The fine was originally imposed by a district court in Miami. The company was charged with seven felonies after a British engineer came forward in disgust over the company’;s knowing efforts to pollute. The engineer recorded supervisors instructing workers to bypass the ship’s filtration system in an effort to avoid the costs of properly offloading oil-contaminated water.
The Justice Department describes a “magic pipe” intentionally installed to commit the crimes:
The U.S. investigation was initiated after information was provided to the U.S. Coast Guard by the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) indicating that a newly hired engineer on the Caribbean Princess reported that a so-called “magic pipe” had been used on Aug. 23, 2013, to illegally discharge oily waste off the coast of England. The whistleblowing engineer quit his position when the ship reached Southampton, England. The chief engineer and senior first engineer ordered a cover-up, including removal of the magic pipe and directing subordinates to lie. The MCA shared evidence with the U.S. Coast Guard, including before and after photos of the bypass used to make the discharge and showing its disappearance. The U.S. Coast Guard conducted an examination of the Caribbean Princess upon its arrival in New York City, New York, on Sept. 14, 2013, during which certain crew members continued to lie in accordance with orders they had received from Princess employees.
While the Justice Department insisted that “We’re sending a strong message in this case to the entire industry,” it seems a bit of a mixed message. Officials could easily conclude that even knowing criminality and a cover up will not result in individual criminal charges.