Thursday, March 23, 2000

Here comes EurOPA
The European Commission has announced a slew of proposals intended to prevent further pollution disasters on European coastlines.

In a communication adopted earlier this week, the Commission calls for
governments of the European Union (EU), the European Parliament and EU industry to accept far-reaching proposals to reduce the chances of accidents and pollution.

The Commission proposals seek to strengthen existing EU legislation on Port State controls and classification societies and to phase out single hull oil tankers in EU waters.

Commission Vice President in charge of Transport and Energy, Mrs Loyola de Palacio, said: "I recognize that the action we are recommending has cost implications for Member States and for industry, but we have to strike a balance. It is only when all the different parties accept their responsibility and our rules are
enforced that we can maintain Europe's standards, minimize the risk of damage to our environment and protect the interests of all the European citizens."

On 12 December 1999, the oil tanker ERIKA, a 25 year old, single-hull vessel under Maltese flag, broke in two 40 miles off the coast of Brittany. More than 10,000 tons of heavy oil were released into the sea, polluting 400 kilometres of coast, gravely damaging flora and fauna, fishing and tourism. This was not the first such disaster but it highlighted the need for an enhanced control of safety on board oil-tankers at European level. The Commission has proposed radical measures to try to ensure that it is the last.

According to the Commission, "the application of the current international legal framework including IMO rules- falls short of providing an adequate response to maritime safety." European Commission proposals following the 1978 Amoco Cadiz disaster resulted in the end simply in a number of formal declarations and resolutions, with the exception of
one directive establishing minimum requirements for certain tankers. Therefore, action to discourage use of old, technologically obsolete and potentially unsafe ships and to enforce and reinforce the present regulatory framework, particularly in terms of control in Community ports, can significantly help. This is the approach which the USA also took only one year after the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989.

STRICTER CONTROLS-AND A BAN: The Commission proposes, first, that control of ships visiting Community ports should be reinforced and ships not meeting the norms should be dealt with severely. Ships over 15 years of age should be banned from all Community ports if they have been detained by Port State Control authorities more than twice in the previous two years. The Commission will publish a 'black list' every six months. Furthermore, for older ships, port controls should systematically include inspection of ballast tanks and ships should be required to report certain data before entering a port so that inspections can be properly prepared. Member States should, mainly through recruitment and training of inspectors, commit themselves to control more ships more thoroughly and to avoid the creation of 'ports of convenience.'

CLASSIFICATION SOCIETIES should be controlled more thoroughly. The Commission may seek to suspend or revoke the authority of societies which are negligent. In addition, more stringent quality criteria must be met by the recognised organizations, including the obligation to follow certain procedures when a ship changes class, such as the transmission of the complete history file of the ship to the new classification society.

SINGLE HULL PHASE OUT: The Commission proposes to ban oil tankers with a single hull from EU waters. The same calendar will apply as has been adopted in the U.S. (2005, 2010, 2015, according to tonnage). It also strongly supports any endeavours aimed at achieving this accelerated calendar at an international level as well. It is recognized by the major shipbuilding associations that for the foreseeable future there is sufficient building capacity to cope with the increased demand for new double hull tankers that will emerge from the Commission's proposal.

These three proposals form a coherent package, not only for oil tankers but also other ships carrying dangerous or polluting cargo. Information gathered during controls at each port or during classification society checks will be disseminated largely through the EQUASIS database, jointly created by the European Commission and France, which will give a detailed description of the ships at any moment and should contribute to establishing the responsibility of each party in the event of anaccident.

In a second stage, later in the year, the Commission envisages complementary proposals on :

Systematic exchange of information between all the actors in the maritime community by further developing the EQUASIS system in particular.

Improved surveillance of maritime navigation, especially in the areas most frequented by oil tankers. Means of controlling the most dangerous ships before they reach European territorial waters should be studied.

The creation of a European structure for Maritime Safety which should have responsibility for overseeing the organization and effectiveness of national controls in order to ensure greater uniformity.

While liability has, up to now, been laid down in international conventions, the Commission intends to work towards a supplementary collective indemnity regime, also including the principle of liability of the carrier and the cargo owner.

The reinforcement of maritime transport safety cannot be seen in isolation. It includes understanding rules which are often very technical and the need to strike the right balance between the Union's environmental protection needs and its industrial and international interests including its ability to renew its fleet.

To avoid any further disasters like the ERIKA, the Commission, without waiting for the proposed legislation to be adopted, is calling on oil companies to enter into a voluntary agreement not to charter tankers more than 15 years of age, unless they are shown to be in satisfactory condition, and to take other measures to improve safety.

Finally, the Commission notes that many measures already adopted have not yet been correctly implemented and comments that legal proceedings have been instigated in a number of cases. It also deplores the widespread use of flags of convenience, which means that, for example, a large part of the fleet controlled by European companies flies the flags of third countries for tax reasons. Finally it considers that it should be a condition to the accession negotiations with Cyprus and Malta that these countries apply the existing Community legislation on Maritime Safety at the time of the accession.


A longer, larger Destiny
Carnival Corporation has signed a letter of intent with Italiy's Fincantieri Cantieri Navali Italiani S.p.A. for the construction of a new 110,000-grt vessel for its Carnival Cruise Lines unit. The 2,974-passenger. 952 ft vessel, a longer and larger version of Carnival's successful "Destiny-class," , will cost approximately $500 million and is expected to enter service in 2004.

Two other "Destiny-class" ships under construction at Fincantieri, the Carnival Conquest and Carnival Glory, set to debut in 2002 and 2003, respectively, are being "stretched" by approximately 60 feet. which will make them the same size as the new 110,000- ton vessel. The "Destiny-class"Carnival Victory, expected to enter service Aug. 31, 2000, is nearing completion and its design will remain unchanged.

The additional space provided by stretching the Destiny design will allow for the creation of a number of new facilities, including an expanded food service area on the Lido deck, an alternative restaurant, a family entertainment center, conference room/business center, an Internet cafe and an expanded sports and recreation area.


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