–Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS)

Reading SOPEPIn the U.S., the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS)2 enacts some of the MARPOL regulations by establishing requirements for the following:

  • Oil abatement equipment, such as oil-water separators and monitoring equipment
  • Oil discharges allowed at sea
  • Construction of ballast tanks, crude oil washing systems and inert gas systems
  • Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plans (SOPEPs).

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) may board U.S. ships and foreign vessels in U.S. waters (in port or at offshore terminals) to verify whether the ship complies with MARPOL. If its flag state has ratified MARPOL Annex I, a foreign ship entering U.S. waters must have an International Oil Pollution Prevention (IOPP) certificate. If the flag state has not ratified the Convention, the ship must carry evidence of compliance with MARPOL.

A USCG examination may include checking the vessel’s certificates (e.g., IOPP certificate), records (e.g., oil record book), documents (e.g., SOPEP) and oil transfer procedures. The examination may also include verification that the vessel is properly equipped with oily water separators.


The master, or other person in charge of a ship, must report:

  1. Any discharge that is prohibited by MARPOL
  2. A permitted discharge if it is permitted because:
    1. it is for purposes of securing the safety of the ship or saving life at sea, or
    2. it results from damage to the ship or its equipment;
  3. The probability of any discharge referred to in (1) and (2).

2 33 U.S.C. §1901–1915