To the Editor:
We are extremely disappointed about the inexcusable actions of our employees who violated our policies and environmental law when they bypassed our bilge water treatment system and discharged untreated bilge water into the ocean.
When we became aware of this back in August 2013, our headquarters management cooperated with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and at the same time, we launched our own internal investigation to learn all that we could about what happened.
As a result of our investigation, we discovered practices, on some other ships, where we were operating out of policy and in violation of environmental law. We have reached a plea agreement with the DOJ, which was announced today.
Although we had policies and procedures in place, it became apparent they were not fully effective. We are very sorry that this happened and have taken additional steps to ensure we meet or exceed all environmental requirements.
In fact, over the past three years we have implemented a number of corrective measures to improve our oversight and accountability. For example, we completely restructured our entire fleet operations organization including new leadership. We also increased the scope and frequency of our training, and proactively invested millions of dollars to upgrade our equipment to new ship standards to ensure compliance with all environmental regulations.
The marine environment is incredibly important to us, and we are using this experience to further improve our operations. Princess Cruises stands committed to environmental practices that protect our oceans.
Over the past three years, we have proactively implemented many important fleet-wide changes and enhancements to our environmental processes and procedures, all with the goal to improve our operations, compliance and oversight. They include the following:
We completely restructured our fleet operations department including new leadership who are firmly committed to compliance and oversight of environmental regulations.
We created an environmental awareness training program for officers on all our ships, which stresses the importance of compliance with all environmental regulations and policies, as well as the need to report any potential violations immediately.
We introduced a new bilge-water management training program, developed by outside experts, for all engineer officers and watch-keeping crew.
We developed a new video series for all crew members on our ships that highlights our environmental initiatives and stresses the importance of compliance.
We created new training on oil record book procedures, and all officers were required to complete the program.
We strengthened the role of the onboard environmental officer and removed other duties that had been assigned to them, enabling them to focus 100 percent on environmental compliance.
We introduced a new training program for environmental officers that they must pass before joining the ship, followed by a shipboard training program.
We installed CCTV on all ships to view and record the oily water separators and the white box, which is the last oil content meter before the treated water is discharged.
We upgraded the oily water separators and oil content meters to the highest standard of technology on all ships.
We introduced a new audit program independently developed by a leading global environmental firm.
We have communicated with our crew members to ensure their awareness and understanding of how to report concerns in any area of shipboard or shore-side operations including environmental compliance, either in person to their supervisor, an executive of the company or anonymously.
Santa Clarita, Calif.