Coast Guard detains Chinese-built bulker on maiden voyage

MAY 15, 2014 — A 40,000 dwt bulk carrier delivered April 24 by Chinese shipbuilder Tianjin Xingang Shipbuilding Heavy Industry Co was detained by the Coast Guard in Portland, OR, Tuesday. The 579 ft vessel is required to remain in Portland until numerous safety violations are corrected.

The vessel, Strategic Synergy, is owned by Singapore based SBC Synergy Pte. LTD and managed by MTM Ship Management. It intends to load grain in Portland and will depart for Ecuador after the safety violations have been met.

Port State Control Officers from the Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit in Portland discovered the discrepancies during a routine inspection of the newly constructed Singapore-flagged vessel. Strategic Synergy's voyage to the United States was its maiden voyage after completing construction.

Several safety discrepancies were related to the Strategic Synergy's rescue boat, which failed to start after multiple attempts. The vessel's crew also had not completed any required scheduled inspections or maintenance on the rescue boat since the vessel's departure from China.

The vessel's steering pump lost power and became inoperable during the Port State Control Officer's operational test of its steering system, rendering the vessel incapable of safely maneuvering.

"The combined risks posed by the safety discrepancies made the vessel substandard with respect to U.S. and international conventions," said Lt. Ben Russell, chief of the Port State Control Branch at MSU Portland. "Each discrepancy impacts vessel, crew and port safety and collectively indicates that the vessel is unsafe to proceed to sea."

Coast Guard vessel inspectors are working with the Strategic Synergy's flag state, vessel crew, owner, and managing company to make repairs to the vessel prior to it loading cargo and departing port. It will remain at berth in Portland until the violations have been corrected.

"The purpose of the Coast Guard's Port State Control program is to mitigate and remove safety and environmental hazards posed by foreign vessels from U.S. waters," said Capt. Pat Ropp, commanding officer of MSU Portland. "For foreign vessels calling on U.S. Ports, the Coast Guard's Port State Control oversight is the primary means of enforcing internationally recognized standards for safety of life at sea."