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July 9, 2002

Port states pledge strict STCW enforcement
The Paris and Tokyo MOU committees have confirmed that, when the IMO's period of grace ends on August 1, the provisions of the new STCW95 Convention will be strictly enforced by port states in their regions.

Ships issued with Letters of Warning since the Convention came into force in February 2002 will be given priority for inspection, but all ships inspected will be expected to comply.

Port State Control Officers will verify that all seafarers required to be certificated do hold a valid certificate or dispensation. In addition officers will be required to have an appropriate certificate from the administration and endorsement from the flag state, or have documentary proof that an application for endorsement has been made. This proof could be a written confirmation from the flag state that an application has been received from an individual. Alternatively, a copy of the seafarer's written application to the administration, clearly showing name, certificate number, date of issue and validity would be accepted.

If all other documentation is in order, taking into account the above factors, the absence of a flag state endorsement or documentary proof of application to flag state will be recorded as a deficiency which must be rectified at the next port. Failure to do so will result in the detention of the ship.

Ships with seafarers not properly certificated will face detention if the deficiencies represent an unreasonable danger to persons, property or the environment, taking into account the length and nature of the voyage, the level of non-compliance and other factors.

Such detainable deficiencies include

  • No Safe Manning Document or the manning is not in accordance with the Safe Manning Document;
  • Certificates of Competency are not available or not in accordance with the requirements of the Safe Manning Document;
  • No mandatory specialized training document or endorsement available, where required;
  • No radio operator certificates available;
  • No documentation for personnel with designated safety or pollution prevention duties available;
  • No flag State endorsement or documentary proof of application available (noting that a seafarer may only serve on board for a period not exceeding 3 months on the basis of an application and that the application should be made before serving in that capacity).

Deficiencies in the manning documentation will be considered as clear grounds for a more detailed inspection which could include operational drills and an examination of the ship's safety management system, if appropriate.

The Paris MOU: Regional Port State Control was initiated in 1982 when fourteen European countries agreed to co-ordinate their port State inspection effort under a voluntary agreement know as the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Paris MOU). Current membership includes 13 EU countries plus Canada, Croatia, Iceland, Poland, Norway and the Russian Federation. The European Commission, although not a signatory to the Paris MOU, is also a member of the Committee. Under the agreement each country undertakes to inspect 25% of individual foreign flagged ships visiting their ports, to pool inspection information and harmonise procedures. The co-ordinated effort results in inspection coverage of 90% to 100% of individual ships visiting the region. Inspection reports are recorded on a central database SIRENAC located in St Malo - France, available for search and daily updating by MOU member countries. The Secretariat of the MOU is provided by the Netherlands Ministry of Transport, Public works and Water Management. The Paris MOU has been a blueprint for the introduction of regional regimes of port State control in the Asia Pacific Rim (Tokyo MOU), Latin America (Viña del Mar), the Mediterranean, Caribbean and other emerging regional port State control regimes. Canada and Russia are members of both the Paris MOU and the Tokyo MOU.

Paris MOU publishes "black, white and gray" list
Proponents of the U.S.-flag fleet have long pointed at the quality problems associated with "flags of convenience." But in the latest "Black, White and Gray List" published by the MOU, the U.S. flag merchant marine actually fairs slightly worse than some open registry countries.

U.S flag ships had 141 inspections by Paris MOU member countries in the 1991-2001 period, resulting in 5 detentions. That was just one detention too many to make it onto the Paris MOU's White List, making the U.S. the "least worst" flag on the gray list.

In contrast, the Bahamas, the Marshall Islands and Liberia all made it onto the white list.

The flag with the best performance was the U.K. with 644 inspections resulting in only 6 detentions. The worst performance was by Albania. Of 85 inspections, 44 resulted in detentions putting Alabania at the top of a black list that also included two countries whose governments have now reportedly pulled out of the open registry business: Cambodia and Tonga.

You can download the entire list at

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