Illegal dumping of oil/bilgewater

It’s not being overlooked, it’s that there’s not enough information in the report to determine why that choice was made.

That said, what @shipengr has posted seems like a plausible possibility. Some ships and companies are highly dysfunctional. A low trust environment could lead to a reluctance to report problems.

Or maybe not, don’t know.

Another point; it’s not known with any accuracy if it is in fact high risk. Could be low risk high consequence.

A post was split to a new topic: Off topic from Illegal dumping

It’s low risk high consequence. It’s mainly a matter of convenience. There are any number of ways to temporarily install a way to bypass an OWS. Any mildly competent Chief can do so and then restore things so no one is the wiser, but it’s work. Some people don’t like work.

A fairly good rule is if in the course of your duties you feel it necessary to break the law don’t make your subordinates do it, or let them see you doing it.


Especially if your subordinates hate you! (From the “not detained” article:

Filings submitted in the case indicate that the accused chief engineer was the object of the “deep hatred” of his former subordinates, who would be willing to return to the US to testify again.


A low risk consequence? Matter of convenience? I beg to differ. This is ILLEGAL. This is in direct contradiction of International Law and Treaty as well as illegal in most coastal flag states.

There are legal solutions in case of an emergency to preserve the safety of the crew and vessel (flooding and etc.) To willfully discharge an oily water mixture above 15 ppm in a non-emergency situation is foolish. Remember, the engineering forensics regarding a discharge can easily pinpoint a pollution source, then there’s also Satellite Imagery and IR- not to mention the age old dime droppers.

Most marine underwriters and other industry stakeholders require the drilling and sealing of the fasteners in way of the piping flanges and fittings to prevent this type of illegal modification. I know, I have installed a few.

Oil filtering and purifying equipment for the processing of bilge water have come a very long way with respect to the finished discharge being way below 15 ppm. Why not keep the OWS (and OCM) in good running condition and discharge legally while underway?

The last two companies I worked for as C/E had a zero discharge rule with respect to bilge water- to discharge the slops and bilge water ashore. If a leak or other problem occurred underway which would exceed the capacity of the holding tanks- we asked for (and always received) permission to run the OWS enroute- and easily rectified the problem; without breaking the law.

Unless there’s an emergency- there’s no excuse. the days of the “midnight phone call” are over- the penalties are harsh and not worth it.

I don’t know who you’re lecturing or why. Does this make you feel important or something?

No shit it’s illegal. The amount of people caught vs the amount of people that discharge is extremely low. That makes it low risk, high consequence.

If you think the drilling and sealing of fasteners is going to prevent the discharge of slops you’re not a very good engineer.

There’s also a big difference between motivation of a US Mariner versus some other mariners as far as consequences. There is absolutely no motivation for me to discharge above 15 PPM. I don’t judge people with pressures I haven’t faced in environments I haven’t experienced.

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It was your comments- Of course, if you sailed aboard deep sea inspected vessels above 500 tons (As opposed to Uninspected Fishing Vessels) you would realize that the drilled and sealed fasteners are for quick checks and verification. These pipes are always removed (as are others suspect of illegal discharges) during investigations.

US Mariners, Foreign Mariners- What difference does that make? All subject to the same rules and will be investigated the same way. Maybe UIFIV Captains get to play with bilge pumps aboard UIFV’s, but I most assuredly will tell you that you wouldn’t do that on large deep sea vessels…

Your comments about my engineering ability are laughable. How many OWS, OCM units have you repaired or even operated?

Based on the frequent news reports and cases I would tell you it most definitely happens on large deep sea vessels. Every OWS I’ve seen (on the 15-plus deep sea vessels I’ve worked in) can be tricked. And I’ve assisted in an investigation of it happening on US Flag vessels, as have many people who worked for MSC in the early 2000’s. You can punch, drill, and seal fittings all you want. They’re better now with additional flow meters and sensors and logs. But on any older models there’s almost always a way.

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Foreign mariners can be subject to greater stresses related to job availability in their home countries and poverty for their families. Go talk to them if you’re curious.

The rest of your high horse babbling just reeks of insecurity and incompetence. I’ve operated, maintained and repaired OWS from every major manufacturer. If you feel compelled to list every license you hold in your bio you’re probably compensating for something.

The reason I choose to sail in the fishing industry 90% of the time has a lot to do with not having to encounter loud mouth low skill individuals like yourself.

Please elaborate…just seeking clarification, not conflict.
I have not heard of any vessel operator with this policy, as it is cost prohibitive.

OWS operation and slops processing is SOP on vessels I know of.

They exist. If you are regularly calling into Northern European ports for example, many have port costs that are compulsory to pay for slops disposal whether you use it or not. Might as well use the service and get rid of everything at once.


Even if it isn’t company policy, many are chiefs scared to operate the OWS.

Some vessels that operate in the Jones act trade moving crude oil from Alaska to the US west coast put engineroom slops and bilge water into the cargo block. This is a convenience which has the benefits of spending less manpower monitoring, operating, repairing OWS and incinerator. It also shifts the environmental impact into a larger land based operation to separate the water. The cargo quality should be be changed minimally as the ‘sludge’ is often mostly MGO based.
World over, OWS operation and sludge burning is probably the most common.

Years a go a tanker crossing to the south of Australia pumped the bilge.
Washed up on pristine penguin colony.
Aussies livid.
Gov trackes all vessel and sample bilge etc to find the culprit.
Finally found a Shell tanker in Singapore.
Hits the head lines, next day the whole of Australia boycotted Shell gas stations, you wouldnt be caught driving into one. ( at the time that was about 40% of retail stations)
Shell payed massive fine and funded the clean up plus funded a Penguin reserve.

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Incompetent? Slanderous and libelous. Do you know me- or have you sailed or worked with me- probably not. I have been called a lot of things in my 46 year career in this industry- never incompetent.

I suggest you retract your slanderous, libelous and capricious statement; post haste.

Thanks for your reply- Many of the US Commercial companies that I have sailed for as C/E (some who had previous legal difficulties in this area dating many years back) hold this rule in their ISM- inclusive of permission paperwork. On a PCC we discharged slops and sludge at Bremerhaven every voyage.

We strived extremely hard to keep water accumulations in bilges to an absolute minimum- by timely maintenance actions- leaks addressed as soon as we could address them. When I first came aboard the Slop discharge ashore usually averaged about 146 m3, we got this down below 100 m3 in most cases. The companies usually didn’t want the headache of ANY sign of breaking the rules.

One case where we were forced to run the OWS enroute for about a week- Dump condenser developed a massive tube leak from the LT jacket water side to the contaminated steam side- underway. We piped up and hosed up a Wilden pump to transfer the leakage from the clean side cascade tank up to the expansion tank and pretty much stopped our water leakage/loss. However- getting to that point put a lot of water in the bilges- hence a quick calculation showed that we would arrive in Bremerhaven with about 60 m3 more than we had safe capacity for- voila we asked for permission and ran the OWS (it was a MARINFLOC unit- it performed flawlessly- and I took actual samples and verified the OCM readings) until we reached a safe level. We later plugged 5 of the tubes- underway in an all nighter…

Most C/E’s that I have known reserve the operation and maintenance of the OWS unit to themselves- monthly onboard testing/operation, annual outside servicing and calibration. There’s nothing like having a PSC Inspector (or USCG for that matter) spend less than five minutes looking at your ORB- accompanied by Slop Discharge Manifests… While I would agree that there’s an added cost associated with shoreside disposal- it makes life one hell of a lot easier…

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you are very correct. the USCG is not smart enough to find the “magic pipe” unless they are informed of its presents which is usually the case. crew member rats out the ship for the money. But as a system to stop pollution i guess it works

I had chatbot tweak your situation to create a different scenario:

Title: Compliance Challenges: Navigating Oil Pollution Laws on a Challenging Ship

Scenario: The Struggling Ship and Sociopathic Captain

Meet Captain Reynolds, the eccentric and somewhat sociopathic master of the vessel “MV Ocean Voyager.” The ship, owned by a company operating on a small budget and facing financial constraints, is far from being in top-notch condition. As the Chief Engineer, it falls on you to ensure compliance with oil pollution laws, even in the face of numerous challenges.

  1. Outdated Equipment and Leaky Systems: The “MV Ocean Voyager” is plagued by outdated and poorly maintained equipment. Leaks are a frequent occurrence, requiring constant attention and maintenance. The vessel’s oily water separator (OWS) is barely functional, and spare parts are scarce due to budget limitations. This makes maintaining water accumulations in bilges a significant challenge.
  2. Limited Capacity and Unplanned Expenses: The vessel lacks adequate storage capacity for oily waste, and any excess accumulation could result in violations of oil pollution regulations. The small budget allocated for unplanned expenses further compounds the problem, leaving little room for shoreside disposal options, which are often costlier.
  3. Sociopathic Captain: Captain Reynolds, known for his vindictive nature, takes pleasure in making the Chief Engineer’s life miserable. He intentionally disregards maintenance schedules and refuses to allocate necessary resources for repairs, creating an atmosphere of constant chaos and uncertainty on board.

In this case the incentives faced by the C/E change.

Wouldn’t that be assumed if it just said “…master of the vessel?”


That’s one potential scenario, but with the availability of Chief jobs in the US the response is easy and simple, you just tell both the company and master to get fucked.

A more common and difficult one I’ve heard about has to do with the fact that many rotating Chief’s are on good terms with their counterpart, even close friends. OWS systems are very susceptible to poor or delayed maintenance. If you come aboard to a bunch of leaks, an inoperable OWS that cannot be made operable with what’s onboard do you throw your buddy under the bus? You’ve had bad hitches yourself. Maybe he has trouble at home. Do you just present the company with a giant discharge bill and take the hit yourself?

It often comes down to confidence in your own competence and the reputation you’ve earned. When I’ve encountered this situation I simply present the bill and order the parts and don’t say anything else. Others would probably spend weeks shrieking about the incompetence of the Chief they relieved. We all have different approaches to the job.

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