NMA Fines Cruise Ship for Violating Fuel Sulphur Limits

The Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) has presented a Greek cruise operator with an almost € 72,000 fine. The vessel was caught violating Norwegian legislation on fuel sulphur limits in the fjords. It is the NMA's first violation fine as a result of new emission rules that came into force on 1 March.

The MS Magellan, owned by Greek cruise operator Global Cruise Lines Ltd, was caught using fuel with a 0.17 per cent sulphur content. In the world heritage fjords (the Nærøyfjord, Aurlandsfjord, Geirangerfjord, Sunnylvsfjord and Tafjord), the maximum allowed sulphur content is 0.10 per cent. This year, the NMA will be extra vigilant in enforcing compliance.

On Board Inspection

On 16 April, the NMA received notes of concern about smoke emissions from the Bahamas-registered cruise ship the Magellan, which was berthed in Flåm. These were followed up by an inspection on board when the ship arrived at Geiranger the next day. Here, NMA surveyors discovered the anomalous sulphur limit of the ship's fuel.

Ship Tracked in Two World Heritage Fjords 

'Our documentation shows that the ship has entered two world heritage fjords with sulphur values far beyond the legal limit values,' says Bjørn Pedersen, Head of Department of Legislation and International Relations in the NMA. 

Tracking of the vessel's AIS signal shows that the vessel made port calls at both Eidfjord and Flåm before arriving at Geiranger. The ship came to Eidfjord from Tilbury in the UK, where it left port on 13 April.

Historically High Fine

The violation fine is at a historically high level, because the NMA took into account that the ship had sailed a considerable distance within the ECA using a fuel with an excessive sulphur content. In addition, the fact that the new rules concerning the world heritage fjords were violated was considered an aggravating factor.

More Inspections to Come 

In 2019, the main focus area for the NMA is the inspection of ships, particularly cruise ships in the world heritage fjords. Even though many cruise ship companies have invested in new, modern ships, the world heritage fjords are still being visited by many older ships. The NMA has a clear expectation that the new legislation will be complied with.

'We will have an increased presence in the world heritage fjords in the months to come, and our focus will be on making sure that the new environmental requirements are met,' says Alf Tore Sørheim, Head of Department of Operative Supervision.

Handheld Devices and Drones with Sulphur Sensors

'The NMA has made efforts to ensure safe and effective controls of sulphur emissions. Our surveyors are equipped with handheld devices that provide an immediate indication of whether the vessel satisfies the requirements or not. Moreover, we have invested in sensors which can be attached to a drone to detect sulphurous exhaust gases,' Sørheim adds.

About the MS Magellan

  • Company: Global Cruise Lines Ltd
  • Length: 222 m
  • Gross tonnage: 46,052
  • Year of construction: 1983/1985
  • Flag State: Bahamas

Picture: The cruiseship MS Magellan on its way to one of the world heritage fjords, Geiranderfjord (picture by Sjøfartsdirektoratet).

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.

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