Dear Readers,

The coronavirus pandemic has caused widespread disruption to the lives of everyone in Tampa Bay and to so many businesses in our community. Here at the Tampa Bay Times, we continue to provide free, up-to-date information at as a public service. But we need your help. Please consider supporting us by subscribing or donating, and by sharing our work. Thank you.

  1. Business

Princess Cruises ordered to pay $40 million fine for pollution scheme

The Caribbean Princess arrives at Port Everglades to begin its service in the Caribbean in 2004. [Miami Herald file photo]

Princess Cruises, owned by Doral-based parent company Carnival Corp., was sentenced to a $40 million penalty Wednesday for illegally dumping oily water overboard and falsifying official logs to hide the damage.

The fine is the largest ever imposed for crimes involving vessel pollution, according to U.S. Department of Justice. The sentence, rendered in district court in Miami, also called for a $1 million award to the British whistleblower who first reported the pollution scheme to the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

About $10 million of the penalty will be directed to community-service programs that will benefit the maritime environment.

In December, federal prosecutors charged Princess, headquartered in Santa Clarita, California, with seven felonies after a years-long investigation that began with the information from the British engineer in 2013.

In August of that year, an engineer on the ship recorded with his cell phone as supervising engineers on the 3,142-passenger Caribbean Princess instructed workers to bypass the ship's filtration system in an effort to avoid the costs of properly offloading oil-contaminated water. An effort led by the ship's chief engineer and senior first engineer tried to cover up the crime by falsifying records.

Investigators later found the discharge was likely one of several instances where the ship spewed pollution into the Atlantic, including off the shores of U.S. ports from Texas to South Florida and along the Eastern Seaboard in 2012 and 2013.