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Saturday, October 20, 2018


A letter from a member expresses the disillusionment of many tanker operators with increasing bureaucracy and control. It’s not that they mind the inspections and the security and the paperwork, for they are all part of providing a safe and effective transport system. But they do mind it when these things are enforced badly and ineffectively, placing over-onerous requirements on the shoulders of the already over-burdened seamen.

Take for example one vessel experiencing nine port state control visits in 16 months across a number of continents. “They can all find different deficiencies every time for the simple reason that they are all minor things and in some case are not deficiencies at all,” says the owner. But the Captain has to spend his valuable in-port time entertaining these visitors, who appear to be looking to find something to justify their salary, he continues, with some even creating unique rules for their port.

Look also at deteriorating working and living conditions for seafarers, he continues. Three of his ships have called recently at one terminal in Venezuela where the shore authorities will not allow any crew member to go ashore. One Captain submitted a written protest, quoting IMO rules, but was told that this could only be dealt with by the port captain if translated into Spanish – at a cost of USD 220. He decided against proceeding because he expected little more than “Mañana” for an answer.

His final blast is as much against checking forms and paperwork as having to fill them in. International Carrier Bond- AMS filing - providing special US guarantors when dozens of global non-US companies could support such guarantees with ease (if they were allowed to). The detail is stupendous, he says, and is made worse by not being in any sort of standard format. But the last straw is the input from charterers, which has to be checked by the owner anyway for even the simplest of errors.

Perhaps he will gain some satisfaction from this week’s news from Spain. Admitting in his letter that he is astounded by the inability of the nations of the so-called united Europe to secure the release of Captain Mangouras, held against his will in Spain for more than 18 months since the Prestige disaster, he might force a wry smile at the news that the new Spanish government has fired Jose Lopez Sors from his post as Director General of the Spanish Merchant Marine Authority. This was the official who made the decision to send the Prestige out to sea instead of ushering her into a place of refuge, leaving him facing the possibility of formal charges for his role in the ensuing ecological disaster.

Contact: Bill Box