Paris Memorandum of Understanding reprt reveals further decline in banned ships

IHS Safety at Sea 09.2016

Vessels banned at ports throughout much of Europe for having sub-standard operations declined further in 2015 in a sign that a risk-based approach to targeting ships for inspection is working.

The Paris Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Port State Control’s annual report, released on 1 July, revealed that the number of vessels refused access at ports within the agreement's 27 member states fell from 20 in 2014 to 11 in 2015, following a decrease from the 60 ships banned in 2013.

According to the report, vessel deficiencies found for safety, environmental, and other reasons also declined from 45,979 in 2014 to 41,436 in 2015, a 9.9% year-on year drop, following a 6.3% decline during 2013­–14.

Vessels on the Paris MoU’s white, grey, and black lists – which rank vessels based on the quality of their operations – showed that overall quality is stabilising. The report noted that while individual flag states have moved among the three lists, the number of flag states on the high-ranking white list remained unchanged in 2014–15 at 43.

Sweden topped the white list in 2015, climbing from the 5th spot in 2014. Of the top 10 highest-ranked flag states on the list in 2014, US-flagged vessels calling at Paris MoU-member ports shifted the most in 2015, dropping 17 spots from 9th to 26th spot. Belgium, ranked 18th on the list in 2014, rose to the 6th spot in 2015.

In 2011, the Paris MoU began a risk-based approach to targeting ships for inspection. The model rewarded quality ships with less frequent inspections. Alternatively, vessels with a “high-risk” safety profile were subjected to more frequent inspections. Penalties for poor quality were strengthened, and vessels from a flag state on the black or grey list with multiple detentions were banned from port.

“The first few years of the [new regime] resulted in a significant increase of ships banned after multiple detentions,” commented Paris MoU secretary-general Richard Schiferli. However, in the last two years “the trend in banning has reversed, and this may indicate that these ships have either disappeared to other areas in the world or have been decommissioned and recycled”.

Schiferli said the risk-based model has inspired other port state control agreements, including the Tokyo MoU and Black Sea MoU, to employ a similar approach. However, he also acknowledged that sub-standard ships are still a problem, with some owners using them to smuggle refugees.

“Equally concerning is that there are still a few flags and recognised organisations around that are willing to provide a ‘legal shelter’ to these ships by providing them with a registry and certificates," Schiferli said. "This practice needs our attention and Paris and Tokyo MoUs have submitted papers to the IMO to expose these poor-performing flags and the [recognised organisations] that serve them.”

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