The vessel which trades as part of the Oslo listed Eitzen Chemical fleet is said to have discharged oil waste through a ‘magic pipe’ that bypassed the oily water separator.
Shipowner, Consultores de Navegacion of Madrid, along with manager, Iceport Shipping of Cyprus, face fines of up to $2.5m each or twice the gross gain from the alleged offences.
The US justice department announced two weeks ago that the chief engineer of the vessel, Carmelo Oria (52) was to be prosecuted. He faces up to five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy to pollute the seas.
The indictment accuses the two companies of acting through Oria, other senior engineers and the engine room crew of the vessel to bypass the oily water separator between June 2007 and March 2008.
US prosecutors say the defendants falsely stated to the US Coast Guard that Oria had not ordered that oil contaminated waste be pumped overboard and knowingly maintained a false oil record book.
It is also claimed that a previous Ukranian chief engineer of the Nautilus discharged oily waste overboard.
The two companies face five charges including conspiracy with the maximum penalty $500,000 on each count.