UK Coastguard Gets Master to Pay Fine by Moving to Seize Ship

Tecoil Polaris (file image)

By The Maritime Executive 02-28-2019 01:51:35

After the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency moved to seize his ship, the master of the small product tanker Tecoil Polaris has paid an overdue $34,000 fine for major ISM code violations.  

On June 5, 2018, the Russian-registered Polaris arrived at Humber Port to load lubricating oil. Observers raised concerns about the master and crew’s competency as the vessel approached and berthed at Immingham Docks.

Following up on these reports, MCA officials inspected the Polaris the next morning. They found a long list of deficiencies with her navigation and safety equipment, together with significant non-compliance with the ISM Code. The vessel was detained and her safety certificate was canceled.

"This was an extremely serious breach of the ISM Code," said MCA Lead Investigator Mark Flavell in a statement after the inspection. "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." 

The MCA pursued charges related to the alleged ISM code violations. Vitaliy Trofimov, vessel's master, pleaded guilty, and the court fined him about $1,900 plus an additional $32,400 in costs. 

The court ordered that these fines were to be paid within 56 days, but Trofimov did not meet the deadline. A follow-up hearing about non-payment - including the possibility of seizing the Polaris as collateral - was due to be held on Thursday at Hull Magistrates Court.

However, all fines and costs were paid in full by 1530 hours on February 7, avoiding the possibility that the court would order the Polaris' seizure. 

"This sends out a clear message: if you don’t pay your fines and costs, we will come after you and we will – if we have to – use the law to seize your vessel or other assets to cover it," said Captain Andrew Phillips, enforcement officer with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency.