On 26th November, a Marseille court fined P&O’s ‘Azura’ Master, Capt Evans Hoyt (pictured), $110,000 for allegedly using fuel with a sulfur content of 0.18% above the local limit.
During the morning of 28th March, 2018, while under the command of Capt Hoyt, the ‘Azura’ berthed at Marseille. Inspectors boarded, sampled her tanks and determined that she was using fuel with a sulfur content of 1.68%, which is slightly higher than the EU’s 1.5% limit for ‘passenger ships providing regular services to destinations or from ports of the European Union.’
This definition does not cover all passenger vessels, and it is interpreted differently by EU countries. The French and Spanish governments had previously said that this rule did not apply to cruise ships.
In ‘Azura’s’ case however, French prosecutors argued that the EU’s passenger ship sulfur cap applies to vessels fitting her description. They further alleged that P&O had used slightly higher sulfur fuel illegally in order to save money.
The judge ruled that P&O’s parent, Carnival Corp, should pay $90,000 of Capt Hoyt’s $110,000 fine.
Carnival has appealed the decision, and in a statement it said that the French Government had given clear indication that it will not apply the EU’s passenger ship sulfur cap to cruise ships.
“We were . . . very disappointed to be prosecuted for this offence, which was based on a European law the French environment ministry had explicitly informed the cruise industry would not be applied to cruise ships and which, in any event, has still not been properly implemented,” Carnival said in a statement. “The Master was using the fuel in good faith, as directed by us, based on our understanding of the law. We have lodged an appeal and will consider the full decision of the court once it is available.”
Elsewhere, Maritime New Zealand is seeking $800,000 in compensation for the family of Allan Navales, a Filipino seafarer who was killed when a gas cylinder exploded on board the cruise ship ‘Emerald Princess’ in 2017.
An accident investigation determined that the cylinder was badly corroded and failed due to wastage.
Inert gas cylinders are typically rated to 2,200 PSI or more, and are heavily built to withstand the pressure. Metallurgists contracted by the New Zealand Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) found that an external area of the cylinder wall had wasted away, leaving less than 1/16th of an inch of steel at the location of the rupture – a gauge equivalent to heavy sheet metal.
The cylinder had been subject to a routine check two weeks prior, but had not been flagged, and other cylinders on board were also found to have significant wastage. “The circumstances of this accident raise the question of whether the current inspection requirements for a competent person are adequate for a pressure vessel stored in a harsh marine environment,” TAIC said in the report.
After the accident, Princess Cruises immediately replaced all of the cylinders used in the ship’s lifeboat launch and recovery system, inspected similar cylinders across its fleet and updated its maintenance and training programs.