Illegal Bilge Discharge



An alleged MARPOL contravention in the Caribbean Sea area.


What the reporter told us:

I would like to report an illegal discharge of oily water from my previous ship. The engine crew were discharging oily water from the bilge of the main engine, bilge tank and dirty oil tank using rubber hose and an air pump. The hose was connected by a flange to a pipe going to an overboard valve of the freshwater generator.

I queried this with the 2nd Engineer who told me that since he joined the ship, the oily water separator had never been used for discharging oily water, nor the incinerators used for burning sludge, because the vessel discharged sludge and oily water to port facilities or a barge.

Please make this report confidential

Photographs were attached to the report, but they were inconclusive.


Further Correspondence:

CHIRP requested further details whilst confirming that  the confidentiality of the reporter would be respected. Suggestions that CHIRP, or indeed the reporter himself, contact the vessel’s DPA were met with derision as the reporter had no faith in the  DPA.

CHIRP made offers to the reporter to contact the flag state administration and additionally to inform the USCG (in their capacity as Port State Control), since the vessel was trading in the Caribbean Sea area. We highlighted that we could potentially request that the vessel be put on the USCG watchlist. During these exchanges, the reporter belatedly advised CHIRP that he had also been in contact with the ITF and, through them, Port State Control.

Before CHIRP could take further action, we received notice from the reporter supported by an official letter from the authorities that the vessel had been boarded by PSC officials upon her most recent port visit, and that an inspection had been carried out. With respect to the specific allegations, nothing definite had been found. However, the official letter also advised that all appropriate authorities within the Caribbean area had been advised to put the vessel on their watch lists.

Considering the above there was no further action from CHIRP.


CHIRP Comment:

The Maritime Advisory Board members, after discussion, noted the following.


  • This report was dealt with by a Port State Control inspection of the suspect vessel once the authorities had been notified of a potential violation. The Port State Control authorities are to be commended for their rapid response to the information received.
  • CHIRP takes all reports of pollution of our seas and oceans very seriously, there is nothing more reprehensible than acts of deliberate pollution. CHIRP will take whatever action it can and actively support any and all initiatives to stop acts of pollution and prevent further pollution incidents.
  • CHIRP will co-operate with and assist all Port State Control and flag state authorities with all credible reports of pollution which we receive provided the reporter agrees.


Following the reporter’s request for confidentiality, CHIRP would like to reinforce the fact that all reports are treated  in the strictest confidence. The name of the reporter is known only to the CHIRP Maritime Advisor who is dealing with the correspondence, and the reporter’s name is never divulged to any other party, company or otherwise. Equally, upon completion of correspondence, the reporters name is deleted from all of our records.


We also note once again the lack of willingness to approach the DPA. This is disappointing in the extreme, and CHIRP reinforces the fact that the DPA should be a direct conduit between ship and shore, have access to the highest levels of company management, and be seen to be the seafarers’ friend, able to proactively  deal with their concerns.


Report Ends