Cruising might get high marks from vacationers, but environmentalists give most of the companies operating those pleasure ships failing grades.
Friends of the Earth, a global network of environmental groups, recently released its cruise ship report card that gives Carnival Cruise Line — operator of the Port of Charleston-based Carnival Sunshine — its lowest marks.
Carnival has been on criminal probation in the U.S. for the last two years as part of a plea agreement — that also included a $40 million fine — for illegally dumping oily bilge waste into the oceans where it operates.
In June, the world's largest cruise line admitted it violated its probation by dumping wastewater and plastic into the ocean and exceeding federal and state air pollution laws. That led to an additional $20 million fine.
And it earned Carnival's seven subsidiary cruise lines a grade of "F" on the Friends of the Earth report card. It's the first failing grade Carnival has received in the seven years the report has been issued.
Carnival wasn't the only cruise line at the back of the class. Royal Caribbean was assigned a "D" while Celebrity Cruises was only slightly better at "D-plus." The highest grade — an "A-minus" — went to Disney Cruise Line.
The cruise industry has come under fire in Charleston for years, with environmental and historic preservation groups arguing the Union Pier port-of-call creates pollution and traffic tie-ups in the city's Historic District. Plans by the State Ports Authority to build a new passenger terminal at Union Pier are being held up by a pair of lawsuits filed by those groups.
The environmental concerns haven't hurt the industry locally — the authority is projecting a 45% increase in cruise ship passengers over the next 12 months to 306,951 people. Most of that increase is due to Carnival bringing the Sunshine to Charleston, with the ship capable of carrying about 950 more passengers per excursion that its port-based predecessor, the Carnival Ecstasy.
Liberty Hall Capital Partners, a Charleston- and New York-based private-equity firm that invests in businesses serving the global aerospace and defense industries, recently announced an acquisition by one of its companies.
Bromford Industries, which Liberty Hall acquired in 2016, has purchased Accrofab Limited, which makes fabricated and machined engine brackets for companies including Rolls Royce and PattonAir. Accrofab, founded in 1977, operates a facility in Derby in the United Kingdom.
Bromford builds complex, close tolerance engine components, fabrications and assemblies for the aerospace and power generation industries.
Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Financing was provided by Citizens Bank, CIT Bank and Beechbrook Capital.
The State Ports Authority is accepting applications for its annual Community Giving Program, which supports charitable organizations in communities where the port operates.
The maritime agency, which operates the Port of Charleston and inland ports in Greer and Dillon, gave $106,000 in grants to 54 agencies last year.
Applicants must be dedicated to one of the following focus areas: maritime commerce; economic development; environmental awareness; and community outreach. Grants are available in levels ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.
Non-qualifying organizations include churches, individual schools and community sports teams, and items such as ballot measures, direct overhead costs and salaries are ineligible.
The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. July 31. For an application or more details, go to tinyurl.com/y292k4um or call Kelsi Brewer at 843-577-8676.