The United States Coast Guard awarded Norwegian Cruise Line the Gold 2010 William M. Benkert Marine Environmental Protection Award in the foreign vessel category.  This biennial award was created to recognize outstanding achievements in marine environmental protection that go beyond mere compliance with industrial and regulatory standards.  This is the first time a major cruise line has been awarded the Gold Benkert award. 

Rear Admiral William Benkert is considered by many to be the father of the U.S. Coast Guard’s marine safety and environmental protection mission.  Captain Minas Myrtidis, Norwegian’s vice president of fleet regulatory compliance, accepted the award yesterday at a reception in San Diego, California.

 “We are honored to have the United States Coast Guard bestow on us such a high honor in environmental practices and standards,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian’s chief executive officer.  “Norwegian takes extreme pride in the measures we go to in order to protect the waters on which we sail and the environments of the ports where our ships call.”

For more than four decades, Norwegian has committed to the protection of the oceans and most significantly through sustainable environmental practices, investments in technology and a commitment to exceed regulatory requirements.  Just in the past two years, Norwegian has:

• Reduced solid waste volume by 25 percent;
• Treated black and gray waste water to near drinking water standards, earning local government approval in states with some of the most rigorous discharge laws;
• Taught 150,000 children and youth passengers (2-17) to become better stewards of the environment through the “Officer Snook” education program, offered exclusively on board Norwegian’s ships;
• Delivered 150,000 gallons of cooking oil onshore that has been converted to bio-fuel for use in motor vehicles, reducing petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
• Invested more than $25 million to upgrade its 250-acre private island, Great Stirrup Cay, with the newest wastewater treatment facilities, and disposal and recycling activities.

In addition to these recent initiatives, Norwegian has invested more than $50 million on new environmental protection technology, as well as on a shore-side department devoted to environmental protection.  Each ship sails with a trained Environmental Officer (EO), a three-stripe, non-watch standing officer whose function aboard the ship is the implementation, training, oversight, and verification of shipboard environmental compliance. The EO also provides assistance to Norwegian’s Fleet Regulatory Compliance (FRC) Department shore-side in the development of environmental policies and procedures. 

All on board crew receive training on environmental procedures prior to assuming shipboard duties, as well as specialized environmental training appropriate to their individual job and responsibility.