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Precis File
SHIP NAME: Neptune Dorado KEY: NUM. ENTRIES: 3
source san francico chroncile
type A

Paul Martin had no cause for alarm as he and three other Coast Guard inspectors cut a wide circle in their water taxi around the huge oil tanker. The ship didn't look bad, and a check of its records in a computer database as it steamed toward San Francisco Bay had raised no red flags. But once aboard for the routine inspection, Martin got "a sinking feeling." Raw sewage oozed from the Singapore-flagged ship's sanitation system. Leaking oil coated boilers. The main engine was leaking fuel, and blowers designed to vent the volatile fumes didn't work. Though Martin didn't realize it at the time, he was standing on a floating time bomb. The Neptune Dorado's ballast tanks -- contaminated with a volatile mix of crude and oxygen -- held the equivalent of three bombs. A stray spark could have touched off an explosion and unleashed an environmental disaster that would have lingered in the bay for decades.

"This was one of the few ships where I was genuinely scared to be aboard," Martin said of the Neptune Dorado, which was carrying Australian crude to offload at Tosco's Rodeo refinery.

Foreign flagships like the Neptune Dorado are still subject to U.S. laws when they sail into American ports. But their compliance is monitored not by the Coast Guard, but by a network of for-profit companies hired by overseas flag states that have no governmental marine safety agencies. Most Classification Societies are set up as non-profits. Some of those inspection companies, called classification societies, are widely regarded as unreliable, and ships approved by them are automatically boarded by the Coast Guard. But even if a ship boasts a voucher from a reliable inspection company, that's no guarantee it's safe. The Neptune Dorado had been vouched for by two of the highest rated classification societies -- the venerable Lloyd's Register and Det Norske Veritas -- and it still made it as far as the bay.

Frustrated oil industry officials like Chevron Shipping Co. President Tom Moore say media coverage of the Neptune Dorado's nerve-wracking visit unfairly promoted a public perception that all tankers are just "an oil spill waiting to happen." Oil companies have spent billions of dollars to meet the new state and federal standards, he said. Moore said a ship's safety is not automatically compromised by foreign registry if the owner chooses a responsible flag state. Most of the tankers Chevron owns are registered in the Bahamas or other foreign nations, because U. S. flagship requirements are onerous, Moore said. But Chevron avoids certain flag states.

Moore said he sleeps better at night because half of Chevron's transport needs are met with tankers either owned outright by the shipping company or controlled through long-term contracts. Those ships and crews are devoted full- time to the oil trade and to the mission of a single company. But Chevron also charters half its transport vessels on a per-voyage basis. Moore worries that one of those tankers might turn out to be like the Neptune Dorado.

Moore said Chevron would never have chartered the Neptune Dorado. The shipping company uses an elaborate "vetting" system including inspections, referrals and a database called SIRE, created five years ago by a consortium of major oil companies. "That ship would have been a red flag to us," Moore said.

Tosco spokesman Duane Bordvick said the Neptune Dorado got past a Tosco screening process as good or better than any in the industry. "We believe it was severely misrepresented," Bordvick said. He could not say whether Tosco drew on the SIRE database, which provides ship inspection reports for a fee to nonmembers like Tosco.

Coast Guard inspectors say the Neptune Dorado's two classification societies should have detected the tanker's severe flaws, which did not arise overnight.

But Donna Grill of Lloyd's Register in Houston, a subsidiary of the classification society, said the inspection firms cannot be held accountable for tanker incidents that happen at sea. "Our certification does not guarantee safety," Grill said. "Once the boat is in the water, there is a lot the captain and crew can do wrong."

The Coast Guard's initial inspection of the Neptune Dorado found 30 violations of U.S. and international regulations, and a later structural examination found multiple cracks in the bulkheads that had allowed crude oil to seep from the cargo holds into the ballast tanks.

Admitting they concealed the ship's dangers from the Coast Guard, the ship's captain, Kiriakos Daioglou, its operator and owner pleaded guilty to federal felony charges Dec. 19 and agreed to pay a total of $2.5 million in fines and penalties.

source MPA Press Release
type A
volume N
dead 0

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) as administrator of the Singapore Registry of Ships (SRS) has given shipowner Elmhirst Pte Ltd three weeks with effect from 12 Oct 2000 to make good the defects found on Neptune Dorado. The Singapore-flagged Neptune Dorado was detained in San Francisco on 24 Sep 2000 by the US Coast Guard (USCG) after port State inspections revealed safety deficiencies.

An investigation into the detention of the oil tanker (84,711 dwt) is underway. This commenced immediately after MPA as flag State administration received an official report from the USCG on 6 Oct 2000. The report had cited four deficiencies which led to the vessels' detention. They were two inoperative main fire pumps, a leaking starboard boiler oil settling tank, inoperative main vent blowers for the engine room, and leaking fuel oil lines to the main diesel engine. MPA and the USCG have since been in contact on the matter.

Mr Lee Seng Kong, Director (Shipping), MPA, said, "This incident raises concerns on the certifying authorities responsible for ensuring the seaworthiness of the ship. As part of our probe, we have met the classification societies Lloyd's Register (LR) and Det Norske Veritas (DNV) and asked for their survey and audit reports. These reports would assist us further in our investigation. We have also met the shipmanager Hellenic Overseas Maritime Enterprises Pte Ltd and urged the shipowner Elmhirst to take immediate steps to put the ship back in a seaworthy condition."

The MPA's preliminary investigation revealed that the vessel was surveyed by LR for ship safety, the last survey being carried out in February 2000. Aside from the four major defects cited earlier, another 26 minor deficiencies were also recorded by the USCG. These included, among others, an inoperative water pump for a generator, leaky pipes and valves, and missing ship manuals. The defects uncovered point to some lapses in maintenance and house keeping of the vessel. The MPA has asked LR to investigate into its own survey processes, in particular, at how such defects could have gone unnoticed at the Feb 2000 survey, and for LR to attend to rectification of all outstanding deficiencies for Neptune Dorado.

The Safety Management Certificate under the ISM Code was issued by DNV on 14 Jun 1998, making the status of the SMC within the expected 'window period' for an Intermediate Audit, which is due between mid-2000 and 2001. An additional audit was carried out by DNV after the vessel's detention. It revealed two major non-conformities and six minor deficiencies. The two major non-conformities were:

a) Failure to conduct regular internal safety audits to verify if the safety and pollution prevention activities in compliance with the safety management system (SMS), reviewing the SMS, and reporting its deficiencies, if any, to the shore-based management

b) The vessel had been detained for statutory deficiencies

Likewise, the MPA has requested DNV to conduct an intermediate audit immediately to clear all non-conformities.

Both classification societies and the shipmanager have been instructed to submit the outcome of their survey and audit, and a weekly progress report to MPA, respectively.

The incident has also brought into question the level of competency of the shipboard personnel. As it is important for any ship personnel to be trained to competently perform their professional technical tasks, and also in implementing the safety management systems, MPA would also be investigating this aspect.

Said Mr Lee, "The MPA remains committed to ensuring that its shipping register is of quality and one that is of international repute. In this end, we have adopted all international conventions, codes and other instruments which cover ship construction and equipment, the quality of seafarers and management standards, protection of the marine environment, among other things. However, the development of a safety culture is a continuous process which must permeate the whole shipping industry. Such a culture requires ongoing maintenance and evaluation of existing systems, and commitment in carrying out respective obligations. We have to make sure that the system of inspections and surveys on which the effectiveness of our legislation depends works."

If the shipowners fail to make good the defects within three weeks, MPA may de-register Neptune Dorado. Also, if our findings show deficiencies on the part of the classification societies involved, the MPA will take appropriate action against them and inform the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) accordingly.

source CTX
type D
volume N
dead 0

Still dont have real UCSG report of this mess, but reading between the lines a bit, it seems that what happened is ship shows up for TVE in San Francisco Bay on 2000-09-22. Coast Guard finds lots of deficiencies in the engine room: oil leaks, leaks from the sanitation system, fire pumps inoperable, etc. USCG orders ship out; but, in a sort of catch 22, the ships management system (ISM) paper work is screwed up, so ship can't legally go anywhere. This was definitely a blessing. Somewhere in the ensuing process, USCG discovers 500 tons of cargo in the ballast tanks.

One source says three ballast tanks had cargo in them, with 500 tons in 7P.

USCG were able to show that the Captain knew about this. He had complained to owners during trip from Australia being understandably worried about the critical safety hazard. She ended up being unloaded after a nitrogen blanket was applied to the ballast tanks.

The owner is Polembros, one of the worst of the worst. Owner ended up getting a $2.5MM fine and 3 yrs probation. Captains involved were finded $25,000 and $5,000 respectively and banned from operating in the US for a year. The Polemis brothers must have got a big kick out of this wrist slap. They reflagged and renamed the ship Golden Gate, under which name she was involved in a big spill in Karachi in 2002.

Class was Lloyds but ISM stuff was approved by Det Norske Veritas. The Singapore MPA press release is typical flag state posturing. The flag states, which compete for owners, delegate almost all their responsibilities to the Classification Societies and then act surprised when it surfaces that the the Classification Societies in thier competition for owners have turned a blind eye to all sorts of major defects. Blaming the crew and poor paperwork instead of the owner is also typical, misplaced nonsense.

Ships is Marpol, 84 built.

Need official report.