German shipping company, MST Mineralien Schiffahrt Spedition und Transport GmbH (MST), was sentenced and ordered to pay a USD 3.2 million criminal fine due to hiding oil pollution.
According to the US Department of Justice, the company pleaded guilty and was sentenced in Portland, Maine, for obstruction of justice and maintaining false official records to conceal deliberate pollution from its ship the M/V Marguerita.
Namely, the company used falsified log books to hide intentional discharges of oily bilge waste occurring over a nine-month period during which the ship regularly made port calls in Portland, Maine.
According to documents filed in court, MST discharged oily bilge waste from the Marguerita through the use of a so-called “magic pipe” that bypasses required pollution prevention equipment.
Pursuant to a plea agreement, the company was ordered to pay a USD 3.2 million fine and serve a four-year term of probation during which vessels operated by the company will be required to implement an environmental compliance plan, including inspections by an independent auditor.
MST, a vessel operator based in Bavaria, Germany, was convicted of similar environmental crimes in the District of Minnesota in 2016. That federal case involved the falsification of the oil record book for the M/V Cornelia, which concealed deliberate discharges of oil-contaminated bilge waste, including discharges into the Great Lakes. MST was on probation in the District of Minnesota when it committed the crimes charged in Maine.
Captain of the Russian oil tanker Tecoil Polaris was fined over GBP 25,700 (USD 34,300) for breaching the International Safety Management (ISM) Code.
Vitaliy Trofimov, Captain of the 85-meter-long tanker, pleaded guilty to serious non-compliance of safety requirements which placed the vessel – to be loaded with 1,665 tonnes of lubrication oil – at risk.
In a prosecution brought by the UK’s Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), on June 14, 2018, the Captain was fined GBP 1,400 and ordered to pay GBP 24,361 in costs.
The 2,821 dwt vessel arrived at Humber Port on the evening of June 5, 2018 having come from Hamina, Finland. Humber Port Authority reported concerns about the master and crew’s competency as the vessel approached and berthed at Immingham Docks, Humber.
MCA Inspectors inspected the vessel on June 6 and found a catalogue of deficiencies in navigation and safety equipment, together with significant non-compliance with the ISM Code.
These included not having correct navigation charts or voyage plan, incorrect stability calculations, navigation equipment not working and defects with lifesaving equipment. The vessel was subsequently detained and its safety certificate cancelled, according to the MCA.
Upon investigation and questioning by the MCA’s Investigation & Enforcement Unit, Captain Trofimov admitted the failures and deficiencies.
“This was an extremely serious breach of the ISM Code. In this case, the Captain showed complete disregard for the safety of his vessel and crew operating the vessel. The intention was for this vessel to carry 1,665 tons of oil to Finland, which could have had disastrous human and environmental consequences,” Mark Flavell, MCA’s Lead Investigator, said.
The vessel will not be released until the fines and costs have been paid, MCA concluded.
Ship fuel oil reporting requirements and amendments to the regulation for the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships have entered into force, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) informed.
Entered into force on March 1, ship fuel oil consumption data reporting requirements are aimed at enhancing the energy efficiency of international shipping. The data collection will begin on January 1, 2019, with data reported to IMO at the end of each calendar year.
As explained, the data collection system is intended to equip IMO with concrete data on fuel oil consumption, which should assist member states in making decisions about any further measures needed to enhance energy efficiency and address greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping.
The mandatory requirements were adopted by IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) in 2016, through amendments to chapter 4 of annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).
Under the new Regulation 22A on Collection and reporting of ship fuel oil consumption data, ships of 5,000 gross tonnage and above are required to collect consumption data for each type of fuel oil they use, as well as other, additional, specified data including proxies for transport work. These ships account for approximately 85% of CO2 emissions from international shipping.
In addition, on or before December 31, 2018, in the case of a ship of 5,000 gross tonnage and above, the mandatory Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) is to include a description of the methodology for collecting the data and the processes that will be used to report the data to the ship’s flag state.
Amendments to MARPOL Annex V on Prevention of pollution by garbage from ships also entered into force on March 1, 2018. They relate to cargo residues of products which are hazardous to the marine environment (HME) and a new Garbage Record Book format.
In particular, the amendments require the shipper to declare whether or not they are classed as harmful to the marine environment. A new appendix provides criteria for the classification of solid bulk cargoes.
Additionally, the new form of Garbage Record Book is divided into two parts, the one applicable to all ships and another required for ships that carry solid bulk cargoes.
Furthermore, a new category of e-waste has been included into the GRB.
Amendments to update Form B of the Supplement to the International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate, in relation to segregated ballast tanks, also entered into force on March 1, 2018
Uruguayan Navy has detained four stowaways that threatened the crew aboard the bulk carrier Friederike.
The four men reportedly boarded the 57,400 dwt bulker while it was in the Nigerian port of Lagos.
In the morning hours of October 21 the authorities received a distress call from the ship’s captain saying that the stowaways mutinied and threatened the crew members during the voyage.
According to AIS data provided by Marine Traffic, the ship was on its way to the port of Recalada in Argentina when the distress call was sent out.
The navy first directed the bulker to an anchorage some 40 km off the coast of Montenegro, Uruguay, to neutralise the situation and return control of the vessel to its captain. The officials later escorted the bulker to the port of Montenegro where the stowaways were detained.
The Supramax bulker, owned by Greek company Technomar Shipping, was held at the country’s anchorage until October 24, when it continued its journey.
Immigration authorities recently boarded a non-Chinese flag ship in Ningbo and conducted an inspection of the crew’s mobile phones, marine insurer West of England P&I informed.
The crew were told to surrender their phones and content from each of the phones was uploaded to the authorities’ laptop for inspection, which was reportedly undertaken as part of the country’s nationwide anti-terrorist campaign.
The search was said to be for videos, files concerning terrorism or any other criminal related activity.
Additionally, the vessel was also advised that the same searches may continue as a routine inspection in the future.
“Although the authorities claimed that they didn’t download any personal information, the situation is somewhat disturbing,” West of England P&I cited the Hong Kong Shipowners Association (HKSOA).
The flag state of the ship in question is now considering making a formal protest to the Chinese Government.
West of England P&I said that this incident could be related to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which opened on October 18, adding that “time will tell if the searches continue after that event has completed.”
Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) intends to test an autonomous containership in the Pacific Ocean in 2019.
The ship would sail from Japan to North America with a crew on standby, Hideyuki Ando, a senior general manager at Monohakobi Technology Institute, part of NYK, told Bloomberg.
The boxship, the size of which has not been specified yet, would be remotely controlled.
NYK joins a myriad of companies that have been venturing into autonomous technology for ships.
As disclosed in an interview with World Maritime News, Rolls-Royceenvisages a remotely operated vessel in local waters as the first stage and in operation by 2020.
By 2030, remotely operated ships are expected to become a common sight on the ocean.
According to a report published by insurance company Allianz in 2012, between 75 and 96 percent of marine accidents are a result of human error, equivalent to USD 1.6 billion. This is often as a result of fatigue.
Remotely controlled and autonomous ships are expected to reduce the risk of injury and even death amongst ship’s crews and the potential loss or damage of valuable assets.
When staff at CyberKeel investigated email activity at a medium-sized shipping firm, they made a shocking discovery.
“Someone had hacked into the systems of the company and planted a small virus,” explains co-founder Lars Jensen. “They would then monitor all emails to and from people in the finance department.”
Whenever one of the firm’s fuel suppliers would send an email asking for payment, the virus simply changed the text of the message before it was read, adding a different bank account number.
“Several million dollars,” says Mr Jensen, were transferred to the hackers before the company cottoned on.
After the NotPetya cyber-attack in June, major firms including shipping giant Maersk were badly affected.
In fact, Maersk revealed this week that the incident could cost it as much as $300 million (£155 million) in profits.
But Mr Jensen has long believed that that the shipping industry needs to protect itself better against hackers – the fraud case dealt with by CyberKeel was just another example.
The firm was launched more than three years ago after Mr Jensen teamed up with business partner Morten Schenk, a former lieutenant in the Danish military who Jensen describes as “one of those guys who could hack almost anything”.
They wanted to offer penetration testing – investigative tests of security – to shipping companies. The initial response they got, however, was far from rosy.
“I got pretty consistent feedback from people I spoke to and that was, ‘Don’t waste your time, we’re pretty safe, there’s no need’,” he recalls.
Today, that sentiment is becoming rarer.
The consequences of suffering from the NotPetya cyber-attack for Maersk included the shutting down of some port terminals managed by its subsidiary APM.
The industry is now painfully aware that physical shipping operations are vulnerable to digital disruption.
Breaking into a shipping firm’s computer systems can allow attackers to access sensitive information. One of the most serious cases that has been made public concerns a global shipping conglomerate that was hacked by pirates.
They wanted to find out which vessels were transporting the particular cargo they planned to seize.
A report on the case by the cyber-security team at telecoms company Verizon describes the precision of the operation.
“They’d board a vessel, locate by barcode specific sought-after crates containing valuables, steal the contents of that crate – and that crate only – and then depart the vessel without further incident,” it states.
But ships themselves, increasingly computerised, are vulnerable too. And for many, that’s the greatest worry.
Malware, including NotPetya and many other strains, is often designed to spread from computer to computer on a network. That means that connected devices on board ships are also potentially vulnerable.
“We know a cargo container, for example, where the switchboard shut down after ransomware found its way on the vessel,” says Patrick Rossi who works within the ethical hacking group at independent advisory organisation DNV GL.
He explains that the switchboard manages power supply to the propeller and other machinery on board. The ship in question, moored at a port in Asia, was rendered inoperable for some time, adds Mr Rossi.
Seizing the controls
Crucial navigation systems such as the Electronic Chart Display (Ecdis) have also been hit. One such incident is recalled by Brendan Saunders, maritime technical lead at cyber-security firm NCC Group.
This also concerned a ship at an Asian port, but this time it was a large tanker weighing 80,000 tonnes.
One of the crew had brought a USB stick on board with some paperwork that needed to be printed. That was how the malware got into the ship’s computers in the first instance. But it was when a second crew member went to update the ship’s charts before sailing, also via USB, that the navigation systems were infected.
Departure was consequently delayed and an investigation launched.
“Ecdis systems pretty much never have anti-virus,” says Mr Saunders, pointing out the vulnerability. “I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a merchant ship Ecdis unit that had anti-virus on it.”
These incidents are hugely disruptive to maritime businesses, but truly catastrophic scenarios might involve a hacker attempting to sabotage or even destroy a ship itself, through targeted manipulation of its systems.
Could that happen? Could, for example, a determined and well-resourced attacker alter a vessel’s systems to provoke a collision?
“It’s perfectly feasible,” says Mr Saunders. “We’ve demonstrated proof-of-concept that that could happen.”
And the experts are finding new ways into ships’ systems remotely. One independent cyber-security researcher, who goes by the pseudonym of x0rz, recently used an app called Ship Tracker to find open satellite communication systems, VSat, on board vessels.
In x0rz’s case, the VSat on an actual ship in South American waters had default credentials – the username “admin” and password “1234” – and so was easy to access.
It would be possible, x0rz believes, to change the software on the VSat to manipulate it.
A targeted attack could even alter the co-ordinates broadcast by the system, potentially allowing someone to spoof the position of the ship – although shipping industry experts have pointed out in the past that a spoofed location would likely be quickly spotted by maritime observers.
The manufacturer behind the VSat unit in question has blamed the customer in this case for not updating the default security credentials. The unit has since been secured.
Safe at sea
It’s obvious that the shipping industry, like many others, has a lot of work to do on such issues. But awareness is growing.
The Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) have both recently launched guidelines designed to help ship owners protect themselves from hackers.
Patrick Rossi points out that crew with a poor understanding of the risks they take with USB sticks or personal devices should be made aware of how malware can spread between computers.
This is all the more important because the personnel on board vessels can change frequently, as members go on leave or are reassigned.
But there are more than 51,000 commercial ships in the world. Together, they carry the vast majority – 90% – of the world’s trade. Maersk has already experienced significant disruption thanks to a piece of particularly virulent malware.
The question many will be asking in the wake of this and other cases now being made public is: What might happen next?
Egyptian Tanker Company and Singapore-based Thome Ship Management have pleaded guilty in federal court in Beaumont, Texas, to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS).
The owner and operator of the 57,920 gross ton oil tank ship MT ETC MENA also pleaded guilty for obstruction of justice for covering up the illegal dumping of oil-contaminated bilge water and garbage from one of their ships into the sea, according to the US Department of Justice.
The plea agreement includes a USD 1.9 million dollar penalty and requires marine and coastal restoration efforts at three National Wildlife Refuges located on the Gulf of Mexico in East Texas, where the offending vessel transited and made port stops.
US Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Unit in Port Arthur, Texas, launched its investigation on April 26, 2016, when a crew member on the 809-foot long oil tanker provided a written statement, photographs, and video that the ship had illegally dumped bilge waste overboard into the ocean.
In pleading guilty, the companies admitted that its crew members bypassed the ships OWS and discharged bilge water into the ocean in March 2016 without it first passing through this pollution prevention equipment. The government’s investigation also revealed that crew members were instructed to throw plastic garbage bags filled with metal and incinerator ash into the sea in March 2016.
The companies also pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for presenting these false documents to the Coast Guard during the inspection in Port Arthur, Texas.
The shipping firms will be placed on a four-year term of probation that includes a comprehensive environmental compliance plan to ensure that all of ships operated by Thome Ship Management that come to the United States fully comply with all applicable marine environmental protection requirements established by national and international laws.
Norwegian shipping company Rederiet Stenersen AS has selected Corvus Energy’s Orca lithium ion based energy storage system (ESS) for its first hybrid chemical tanker.
The 17,500 dwt IMO class II chemical tanker will be the first vessel of its kind to utilize an ESS for propulsion, which will integrate with WE Tech Solutions’ propulsion system into the vessel.
According to data provided by VesselsValue, the company has four chemical tankers currently under construction at the Chinese Taizhou Kouan Shipbuilding.
Featuring a length of 146 meters abnd a width of 22.5 meters, the new vessels are scheduled for delivery in 2018.
The hybrid chemical newbuildings will join the company’s fleet of 16 purpose built chemical/product carriers ranging from 13-19,000 dwt, all of which are deployed in North West European trade.
“Utilizing the ESS solution for the hybrid power and propulsion systems will allow for running fewer diesel generators for certain operations – improving efficiency, reducing the exhaust emissions and lowering noise levels, making it the most environmentally friendly chemical tanker ship in the Rederiet Stenersen fleet,” Corvus Energy said.
With Finland’s accession of the International Ballast Water Management Convention, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) said that the remaining condition for entry into force has been met and therefore the BWM Convention is scheduled to enter into force on September 8, 2017.
IMO has approved draft amendments to the Convention’s implementation scheme and if adopted in October 2016, then approved ballast water treatment systems meeting the D-2 biological standard will need to be installed on new ships constructed on or after September 8, 2017, as well as on existing ships, not later than the first MARPOL IOPP Renewal Survey carried out on/after September 8, 2017.
Accession by Finland has triggered the entry into force of a key international measure for environmental protection that aims to stop the spread of potentially invasive aquatic species in ships’ ballast water.
BWM Convention’s entery into force will mark a landmark step towards halting the spread of invasive aquatic species, which can disrupt local ecosystems, affect biodiversity and lead to substantial economic loss.
Under the Convention’s terms, ships will be required to manage their ballast water to remove, render harmless, or avoid the uptake or discharge of aquatic organisms and pathogens within ballast water and sediments
“The entry into force of the Ballast Water Management Convention will not only minimize the risk of invasions by alien species via ballast water, it will also provide a global level playing field for international shipping, providing clear and robust standards for the management of ballast water on ships,” said IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim.
Her Excellency Päivi Luostarinen Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Finland to IMO, handed over the country’s instrument of acceptance to the Ballast Water Management Convention to IMO Secretary-General Lim today.
The accession brings the combined tonnage of contracting States to the treaty to 35.1441%, with 52 contracting Parties. The convention stipulates that it will enter into force 12 months after ratification by a minimum of 30 States, representing 35% of world merchant shipping tonnage.
The BWM Convention was adopted in 2004 by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for developing global standards for ship safety and security and for the protection of the marine environment and the atmosphere from any harmful impacts of shipping.