Del Monte reefer detained

The crew of a reefer controlled by an affiliate of US food giant Del Monte Fresh Produce has been accused of violating regulations that prohibit the disposal of various pollutants at sea.

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The US Coast Guard (USCG) claims the crew of the 428,000-cbf Murcia Carrier (built 1996) dumped between 15 and 20 metal drums of hydraulic oil into the ocean during voyages completed earlier this year.

The accusation follows a recent investigation in which port inspectors from Delaware City, Delaware found what a report describes as “evidence” that the discharges were international.

In the same report officials noted that the port state control officer who detained the ship after uncovering the infraction questioned the authenticity of the vessel’s garbage record book as well since the dumping wasn’t documented.

While the Murcia Carrier was held for seven days as a result of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (Marpol) violations it’s unclear whether US authorities intend to take legal action against the vessel or its crew.

According to the USCG the reefer was on charter to Network Shipping Ltd at the time of the detention. The agency identified the owner as Giralda Shipping Corp and the manager as Norbulk Shipping UK, which is consistent with data from Equasis.

Network, the Coral Gables, Florida-based shipping arm of Del Monte Fresh, made headlines earlier this year when the Murcia Carrier and one of its sisterships landed at the centre of a legal dispute with Alaska Reefer Management.

According to the New York-quoted food producer’s website its maritime division oversees a fleet of 23 refrigerated vessels. Of these, the company claims it currently owns 15 and charters the remainder from various third parties.

Attempts to reach Del Monte Fresh and Network Shipping for comment about the US Coast Guard's allegations against the Murcia Carrier and its crew were not immediately successful at the time of writing Thursday evening.