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June 13, 2005

USCG port state detentions rise

The U.S. Coast Guard has issued its Annual Port State Control Report for 2004, examining the safety and security compliance of foreign-flag vessels visiting the U.S. last year.

Safety compliance declined slightly in 2004 with 2.43 percent of vessels detained because of poor compliance with safety standards, an increase from 1.99 percent in 2003, but still less than the 2.5 percent that were detained in 2002.

But the report notes that foreign-flagged vessel compliance with new international security requirements was better than expected in the first six months of implementation, with only 2.5 percent of vessels arriving in U.S. ports found to be significantly non-compliant with the new security requirements, and denied entry to port, detainedor expelled from port as a result. In all, there were 176 safety related vessel detentions last year, compared with 153 in 2003.

Over the first six months of enforcement, the Coast Guard conducted over 6,000 security inspections but denied entry to, detained or expelled only 92 vessels.

"With the usual dedicated professionalism, the vast majority of maritime stake holders rose to the occasion and exceeded all expectations," said Rear Adm. Thomas Gilmour, the Coast Guard's assistant commandant for marine safety, security and environmental protection. "We all met a tough challenge. Shipping did not come to a standstill and now we have a baseline of security for ships and ports around the world."

By the end of December, the percentage of vessels arriving in U.S. ports with major problems fell to 1.5 percent.

The Coast Guard targets vessels for increased inspections if they are registered in a country whose vessels have below average compliance in either meeting safety or security requirements. Vessels registered in Antigua and Barbuda, Cyprus, Malta, Panama and St. Vincent and the Grenadines had below average compliance in both areas.

The Coast Guard began tracking safety compliance in 1995, when 6.55 percent of vessels were detained for poor compliance. This is the first time the report has included security compliance.

A total of 7,241 individual vessels, registered in 81 different countries, made 72,178 U.S. port calls in 2004, and the Coast Guard conducted over 11,000 safety examinations.

The current Annual Port State Control Report can be downloaded from More information on the Port State Control Program, along with previous reports and explanations of the Coast Guard's port state control program, can be found at


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