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Cash buyer of scrap ships fined in illegal export case

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Attempt to illegally export ship failed after it got into difficulties off Norwegian coast

Singapore headquartered Wirana Shipping Corporation, of the world’s largest cash buyers of vessels for scrap, has accepted and paid a Norwegian penalty of NOK 7 million (about $764,000). The Norwegian Maritime Authority says the fine was imposed for violation of Norway’s Pollution Control Act and the General Civil Penal Code as a consequence of an attempt to illegally export a vessel originally called the Tide Carrier, but renamed Harrier.

The case shines a light into an unpleasant corner of the maritime world where false statements and dubious documentation sometimes appear to be the norm.,

The Tide Carrier case has become notorious among groups concerned about unsafe working conditions and pollution risks at South Asian ship scrapping facilities, including NGO Shipbreaking Platform, which played a role in informing the Norwegian authorities, back in 2017, that the ship had been sold for illegal scrapping.

The Norwegian Maritime Authority says that “in 2017, an attempt was made to illegally export the Harrier, previously named the Tide Carrier, from Høylandsbygd in Norway in order to scrap the ship on a beach in Gadani, Pakistan. The illegal export was revealed when the ship suffered an engine failure and started to drift outside Jæren in Rogaland. Inspectors from the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) detained the ship due to its condition. Moreover, an invalid certificate of nationality from the Comoros was presented along with false class certificates from the Union Marine Class Society.”

“The company deliberately deceived Norwegian authorities by presenting false documentation proving that the vessel complied with all requirements of the international conventions included in the Regulations on Port State Control, says Kjetil Sørensen, Senior Adviser at the NMA. “We take this very seriously and are pleased that the prosecuting authorities have given such a distinct response. The fine also sends a clear message to the industry to take problems related to illegal scrapping seriously.”

FALSE DOCUMENTS

Wirana Shipping Corporation Pte. Ltd. was the commercial manager for the voyage and in charge of the ship’s route, the purpose of the voyage and its execution. The owner of the Harrier was a company registered in Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Wirana Shipping Corporation used a management company to undertake the voyage.

As the Harrier started to drift outside the beaches of Jæren, the Norwegian authorities would not allow the ship to leave Norway without permission. As a result, the chief financial officer at Wirana Shipping Corporation made a fictitious agreement stating that the ship would be put in operational use outside Africa, referring to two statements from third parties supporting the Africa agreement. This was not correct, as the ship was being exported for scrapping.

The fine has been imposed in relation to two cases of false statements to the public authorities, as these documents were presented to the Ministry of Climate and Environment.

Furthermore, the fine includes a violation of the Pollution Control Act based on the risk of pollution caused by the voyage, as maintenance of the engine was performed when the ship was anchored at Feistein outside Klepp with no tugboat on stand-by.

The ship had been laid up for ten years prior to the voyage. According to the Norwegian Coastal Administration, there was an imminent risk of acute pollution as the ship started to drift. As stated in the fine, there were 1500 cubic metres of oily liquids in the tanks of the ship, waste attempted to be exported illegally from Norway. An oil spillage outside the beaches of Jæren would have had an extremely harmful effect on flora and fauna in the area. The associated clean-up costs could have been substantial.

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