California fines ship manager $283,500 for sulphur non-compliance

A ship manager implicated in a 2011 case of low-sulphur non-compliance in California has been fined $283,500, according to insurers the International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC).

The unnamed vessel was boarded by a California Air Resources Board (CARB) inspector in July 2011. After questioning the ship’s master, the inspector checked the vessel’s Safety Management System (SMS).

On inspection, it was found that the vessel called at Californian ports 17 times between 2009 and 2011, without switching the main engine or auxiliary boilers to low-sulphur fuel, contravening the revised 2009 California clean air regulations.

Originally, the shipowner was fined $283,500 for failure to switch fuel during the 17 port calls. “The owners, however, did not accept this rejection, maintaining instead that the manager had failed to update the SMS,” said an ITIC statement. “In 2009, a fleet circular had been sent to all vessels by the manager, setting out the change in regulations, and asking that it be displayed in a prominent position. The manager therefore initially rejected the claim on the ground that it had resulted from crew negligence, which was excluded under the BIMCO management agreement.

“As it was considered unlikely that the manager would successfully defend a claim resulting from its failure to update the SMS, the claim was paid in full.”

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