Federal judge imposes $40M fine on Princess Cruise Lines

A Princess Cruise ship. Facebook photo.

A federal judge in Miami Wednesday ordered Princess Cruise Lines to pay a $40 million fine, the largest-ever federal penalty imposed for crimes involving deliberate vessel pollution.

The fine penalizes Princess for illegally dumping oil-contaminated waste and falsifying official ship logs to conceal the discharges, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.

U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz also ordered that $1 million be awarded to a British engineer, who blew the whistle on the illegal discharges to British maritime authorities, who provided the evidence to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Judge Seitz also imposed a five-year probation on Princess, a Santa Clarita-based unit of Carnival Corp., headquartered in Miami.

During that period, Princess and all related Carnival-owned cruise lines sailing in U.S. waters and to U.S. ports must implement an environmental compliance plan.

“Princess Cruises is committed to continuing this progress into the next five years of the probation period and beyond,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises, in a statement. “To that end, we began implementing the Environmental Compliance Plan requirements even before all of the terms were finalized with the government.”

Terms of the five-year probation include independent audits by an outside company and oversight by a court-appointed monitor.

As a result of the government’s investigation, Princess has taken various corrective actions, according to the Justice Department statement.

These include upgrading oily water separators and oil content monitors on every ship in its fleet.

The case against Princess included illegal practices which were found to have taken place on five Princess ships – Caribbean Princess, Star Princess, Grand Princess, Coral Princess and Golden Princess.

Carnival Corp. is the world’s largest cruise line operator. It owns 10 cruise lines and 100 ships as the result of a series of acquisitions, including a 2003 merger with P&O Princess.

Carnival has 120,000 employees and its stock is traded on the New York and London stock exchanges.

Its U.S.-based brands include Carnival, Princess, Holland America Line, Seabourn, and Fathom. Overseas, it owns Costa, AIDA, P&O Cruises-U.K., P&O Cruises-Australia, and Cunard, which has its U.S. base in Santa Clarita.

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