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Capital Ship, Chief Engineers Face Water Pollution Charges

Capital Ship Management Corporation, Greek cargo ship operator, and two chief engineers of one of its ships have been charged with failing to record the illegal dumping of oily waste into international waters and obstruction of justice.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the company, along with the chief engineer Ioan Luca and chief engineer Ionel Surla of the containership CMA CGM Amazon, were charged with multiple felonies, including conspiracy to fail to maintain an accurate oil record book and to defraud the United States, failure to maintain an accurate oil record book, falsification of records in a matter of federal administration, witness tampering, and obstruction of justice.

Pursuant to international treaties and U.S. law, all large ships, such as the Amazon, are required to use pollution-control technology, including an oily water separator, to remove oil from bilge water that is discharged into the ocean.

The indictment alleges that Luca, who was the ship’s chief engineer from October 2018 to January 2019 , and Surla, the chief engineer of the Amazon from May 2018 to October 2018, ordered crew members to use a portable pump and flexible hoses in the ship’s engine room to transfer oil-contaminated bilge water to a tank designed to hold clean water, then dispose of the water directly overboard into international waters, avoiding use of the oily water separator.

Luca and Surla then failed to record such discharges in the ship’s oil record book. The CMA CGM Amazon’s ports of call include various ports in Asia, Egypt, and Canada, as well as the Port of Los Angeles, according to the indictment. While at the Port of Los Angeles on January 11, the ship presented the false oil record book to U.S. Coast Guard inspectors during an inspection, the indictment alleges.

Capital Ship Management and Luca also have been charged with obstruction of justice and witness tampering for allegedly instructing crew members to lie to the Coast Guard about events that occurred on the ship while at sea.

If convicted of all charges, Luca faces a statutory maximum sentence of 61 years in federal prison while Surla faces a statutory maximum sentence of 11 years in federal prison.

In a related case, Marian Gavriluta-Strat, the CMA CGM Amazon’s second engineer, has agreed to plead guilty to an information charging him with failure and causing the failure to maintain an accurate oil record book. Gavriluta-Strat is scheduled to enter a guilty plea to the charges on June 19. He faces a statutory maximum sentence of six years in federal prison.