The master and chief officer of the Cosco-owned 26,800-dwt bulker Full City, which spilled about 300 tonnes of fuel oil after grounding off Langesund, Norway on 30 July, 2009, have pleaded not guilty on the opening day of the trial.
A ten-year sentence could await the pair if found guilty of negligence in relation to the incident.
Charges against them include breaches of Norway’s pollution control and ship safety and security Acts.
The prosecution contends that the ship failed to respond to weather warnings and that the officers delayed making contact with emergency services once the danger became apparent.
Lawyers for the charged pair contend, however, that a coincidence of unfortunate circumstances involving weather, technical issues and advice given to the ship on anchorage by the coastal authorities led to the grounding.
The trial is likely to attract additional attention after another Cosco bulker, the Shen Neng 1, grounded on Australia’s Great Reef on April 3 leaking a small amount of fuel oil.