Ship owners face charge over displacement of Eden Rock coral

Cargo ship’s owner and manager named as defendants in Eden Rock coral damage case

Two companies involved in the ownership of the cargo vessel Saga were named as defendants in Summary Court Tuesday in a charge relating to displacement of coral without authority at Eden Rock.

Oleksandr Marchenco, Novus Shipping OU, and Risley Limited are charged that on Nov. 25, 2016, within Cayman waters in the George Town harbor, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, they “directly or indirectly cut, carved, injured, displaced or broke underwater coral, plant growth or formation.”

No one stood in the dock, but attorney James Austin-Smith appeared for the defendants. He indicated to Magistrate Valdis Foldats that he had been in discussion with the Crown about the matter. He asked for the matter to be brought back on Thursday, Oct. 19.

No details of the charge were discussed in court and the charge does not name any vessel.

However, Cayman Compass archives show a report that on the morning of Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, the cargo ship Saga damaged a coral reef in the harbor when it was leaving the dock after depositing its goods.

On Dec. 4, 2016, the Compass carried a story that identified Risley Ltd. as the owner of the 328-foot vessel, and Novus Shipping as the company that managed it.

That report quoted Scott Slaybaugh, deputy director of the Department of Environment, as saying that the ship’s owners had hired Polaris Applied Science to survey the damage.

This was the same company that did the restoration work after Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen’s yacht damaged a different reef in 2015.

Mr. Slaybaugh said the ship owner and operators “have been very cooperative. They have been instructed to give us every consideration, and they have.”

Both stories referred to the damage as being in the area of the Eden Rock dive sites.

In March, Risley Ltd. filed a writ in Grand Court seeking damages for liabilities incurred in restoring the reef.

The writ claimed that the Port Authority failed in its duty to properly manage the harbor and suggested it should bear some of the costs stemming from the incident.

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