We have become aware that the US Coast Guard is launching multiple inspections of foreign flag vessels to ascertain whether the Oily Water Separator (OWS) in the engine room is being used improperly or indeed is being bypassed.
In a recent incident Coast Guard officers have insisted that the pipeline leading from the OWS to the ship’s side be removed for closer internal inspection. Requests have also been made to make the overboard sea valve available for examination. The argument that it is below the waterline is apparently not acceptable, owners being required to use divers to secure it so it can be removed.
Although this is the most serious case brought to our attention, the Coast Guard are, as a matter of course, reviewing all Oil Record Books, Log Books and other ship’s documents to establish whether proper documentation has been maintained and whether false entries are being made, especially in the Oil Record Book.
What they are looking for is the following:
1. Discrepancies between the Deck Log and the Oil Record Logs in regard to any discharges noted in the Oil Record Book.
2. Discrepancies between the amount of water pumped overboard after going through the OWS and the amount that the pumps could physically pump overboard during the same period, i.e., whether the amount shown in the Oil Record Book is greater than the pump capacity.
3. Whether discharges from sludge tanks to shoreside facilities or barges exceeds the pumping capacity of the vessel during the period the sludge oil was being discharged.
The Coast Guard has already fined several shipping companies substantial amounts of money and indications are that frequent checks will be carried out.
It is recommended that Members’ ships trading to the USA verify with their crews that correct entries are being made. Attention is further drawn to LP Bulletin No.32 (Issued 1/98) regarding Oil Record Book entries and sludge records.
Source of Information: Ship Inspection Dept