27th February 2024

Marpol contravention

Initial Report

Several reporters informed CHIRP that their tanker was burning Intermediate Fuel Oil (IFO)  with a sulphur content of 2.4% even though the vessel was not fitted with an exhaust gas cleaning system (scrubber) to reduce the sulphur content to below 0.5%  as required by Marpol VI reg 14. The ship trades worldwide and is not fitted with an exhaust gas cleaning system (scrubber) to reduce the sulphur content below 0.5%. (Marpol VI reg 14). To avoid detection, they knew the vessel switched to burning marine diesel fuel when operating in ports or emission control areas (ECA).

The reporters were highly concerned about reporting this matter because the vessel is part of the ‘dark fleet’ of vessels breaking international sanctions. They were fearful of potential reprisals should their identity become known.

CHIRP Comment

Following extensive communication with the reporters, CHIRP raised these concerns to the Flag State, the designated person ashore (DPA), and the Hull and Machinery Insurers.

This report illustrates the lengths to which some irresponsible vessel owners will go to circumvent regulations designed to protect the environment. This is likely because the cleaner fuel is more expensive, and the company puts profit over safety.

The incident also suggests that Flag and Port State inspections should be reviewed to ensure that such behaviours can be detected. Vessels admitting to carrying fuel exceeding the 0.5% limit should be required to demonstrate how they intend to reduce sulphur levels, either through a scrubber system or another method.

The exhaust gas cleaning system should only be considered a temporary measure, and ultimately, all ships should be converted to using low-sulphur-compliant fuel.

Key Issues relating to this report

Culture- The vessel’s organisation does not appear to be invested in environmental compliance. This is perhaps unsurprising given that the vessel is involved in ‘sanction busting”. The requirement to burn cleaner fuels or have scrubbers fitted has been in force for three years. Is your vessel following the rules?

Pressure- The company uses economic pressure to conceal the vessel’s non-compliance with Marpol, but if caught, the monetary fines will outweigh any short-term savings.

Local Practice- The practice of a company operating ships which are not fitted with an exhaust gas cleaning system must be ended. If you are operating on a vessel with a similar operation, please get in touch with CHIRP.

  • Culture
  • local_practices
  • Pressure

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