The incident occurred three weeks after US
authorities began implementation of the groundbreaking International
Ship and Port Security code, which imposed a new and stiffer set of
security measures on maritime vessels.
Facing a potential five-year jail sentence,
plus a hefty fine proposed by the Coast Guard, on Aug. 25 Tumer, 47,
entered a guilty plea in US District Court in Wilmington, Del.
Calling him “a well-educated family person
who made a foolish mistake,” the judge sentenced him to time served and
“I apologize to the whole American public,” Tumer told the court.
Tumer’s lawyers argued that the captain,
exasperated by the close scrutinythat his inbound vessel was under at
the hands of a US Coast Guard inspection team, had merely been making a
joke. Prosecutors pointed out that someone intent on doing harm could
always pretend that such remarks were made in jest.
While industry observers reacted negatively
to the case, charging that the US government was overreacting, the
incident nonetheless put the commercial shipping world on notice that
the maritime security bar had been raised.