One of the Carnival Corporation's fleet of cruise ships.
By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
IN the wake of yet another report on its illegal ocean activities, Carnival Corporation says its focus is on “full transparency and continuous improvement”.
The company, in response to a recent Tribune article which detailed how one of its bridge officers offered to cover up the prohibited dumping of 66,000 gallons of ballast water in the Bahamas by its Carnival Conquest ship last November, said it “self-reported” the case.
The incident was first reported as a part of the latest court-mandated reports of Carnival’s ocean activities, and subsequently covered by The Tribune last week.
Court appointed monitor Steven Solow, in his review of a Carnival report on the incident, noted a bridge officer “offered to cover up the occurrence and change the time and location of the discharge to indicate it had occurred in a permitted area.”
He said the report also noted Carnival attributed the incident to the failure of the watch-keeping engineer to attend a meeting with the bridge, “to follow the instructions provided by the bridge during the briefing at the start of the watch as well as the chief engineer’s standing orders,” or “to inform the bridge before conducting the discharge operation.”
This report follows a 2017 report which revealed Carnival ships dumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of treated sewage and more than 8,000 gallons of food waste within The Bahamas’ archipelagic baseline.
Responding to this latest situation, Carnival Corporation Senior Vice President & Chief Communications Officer Roger Frizzel said the situation was one of “human error” by a member of its crew.
He said the company “sincerely regrets” the occurrence and issued a formal apology for the “mistake”.
Meanwhile, Carnival Corporation said the ballast water in question was released “far from shoreline in deep water”.
Carnival said the release should have “absolutely” no impact, harm or damage to the Bahamian marine environment.
“Our company’s checks and balances, which includes focused efforts on education and training, and commitment to self-reporting of all incidents — even potential incidents — is designed to identify and prevent lapses in judgment and areas of improvement,” the cruise line said.
“The important thing is that [the bridge officer] realised what he said, he immediately corrected himself, and we self-reported this in our goal of full transparency and continuous improvement,” it added.
The release of untreated ballast water could introduce invasive species into an environment, devastating local ecosystems. It is not clear if the ballast water released in local waters was treated. In December 2016, the Princess Cruise Lines, a subsidiary of a Carnival Corporation, pled guilty to seven felony counts related to vessel pollution and efforts to conceal that pollution, one count of conspiracy, four counts of failure to maintain accurate records and two counts of obstruction of justice.
The cruise line had to pay a $40 million criminal penalty, the largest ever for deliberate vessel pollution. A five-year term of probation was applied that requires all ships from eight Carnival cruise lines to participate in a supervised environmental compliance programme. The company is required to retain an outside independent third-party auditor and to fund a court-appointed monitor.
A US federal judge recently threatened to stop Carnival Corporation from docking its ships in American ports as punishment for its possible probation violation. Court filings show Carnival Corp sought to avoid unfavourable findings by preparing ships ahead of audits and by falsifying records, among other things.
At a scheduled June hearing, US District Judge Patricia Seitz is expected to decide whether to revoke Carnival’s probation and punish the company.
In February, Carnival announced plans to develop the world’s largest cruise port in East Grand Bahama. The facility would be able to accommodate two of their largest ships at the same time.
The company is leasing 329 acres of land in an area known as Sharp Rock in East Grand Bahama, which is known as an eco-sensitive zone.