The Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA) has issued a report indicating that the Epic Hedron, a Chinese-built, Vanuatu-flagged vessel, has violated the US Jones Act, which requires seaborne cargo shipped between two US points to be carried by US-built, crewed, and owned vessels. According to the report, the derrick barge was transporting pieces of an oil platform called jackets between points off the coast of Louisiana.
OMSA said the ship used its crane to carry the jackets suspended in the air “for miles across the Gulf of Mexico,” a practice it said is unsafe.
The report also describes the vessel’s history through multiple owners of safety and pollution-prevention infractions. The US Coast Guard (USCG) has written reports, cited by OMSA, on the following issues:
• Illegal modifications to equipment on the vessel that could allow the pumping of oily water into the ocean.
• Failure to record the levels of fuel, oils and other similar substances as required by regulations.
• The dumping of untreated garbage, specifically food wastes, into the ocean, a violation of international regulations.
• Failure to report discharges of ballast water as required by law.
“The Epic Hedron has racked up a shocking number of violations and, in each case, it seems they were told ‘just don’t do it again,’” said OMSA president Aaron Smith. “If that were a US-flagged vessel, the US Coast Guard would have prevented it from leaving the dock and the crew might even face criminal penalties. Foreign-flagged vessels should play by the same rules.”
Further, according to OMSA, the Epic Hedron has continuously failed to utilise its automatic identification system, in violation of international safety regulations. The association urges the USCG to change its regulation that allows vessels to turn this system off.