INTERTANKO Meetings in Washington D.C

Mr. Westye Høegh, of Leif Høegh & Co. ASA, Honorary Member of INTERTANKO and former INTERTANKO Chairman (1998-2000), has recently held meetings with the MARAD Administrator, Capt. William Schubert and the Federal Maritime Commission Chairman, Mr. Steven Blust. He was accompanied by the INTERTANKO Regional Manager for North America, Dragos Rauta.

The US Maritime Administration (MARAD)

Capt. William Schubert, the MARAD Administrator, was keen to hear of the latest developments in the establishment of ports of refuge. He was strongly opposed to the detention of tanker masters on charges that cannot be sustained by the authorities. Security was another item addressed. Security training for mariners is extremely important and MARAD and USCG will jointly certify training courses and accredit schools for security training. There are an increasing number of such courses, and mariners and ship operators will be provided with advice and a list of recognised schools and courses. Currently, MARAD is considering a curriculum on security training presented by the MerchantMaritimeAcademy for submission to IMO as a suggestion for an IMO Security Training Course.

MARAD has recently agreed to speak much more on behalf of foreign flag ships, as they did on maritime security related issues, with particular emphasis on visas for foreign crews. In February 2004 MARAD is expected to present its Report to the House Appropriation Committee in which it will re-define its role in the Department of Transportation subsequent to the USCG move to the Department of Homeland Security.

Finally, it was acknowledged that there was good cooperation between MARAD and INTERTANKO with the prospect of more MARAD involvement in issues beyond those pertaining to US flag ships, as well as a closer dialogue and mutual assistance.

Federal Maritime Commission (FMC)

FMC Chairman Steve Blust has recently returned from a visit to China and Hong Kong. He gave a presentation in Shanghai on the impact of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA) on the international maritime industry since its passage in 1998. (FMC regulates ships involved in US foreign commerce under provisions of the Shipping Act, 1984, as amended by the OSRA 98). The message conveyed was that unilateral efforts by any one sector of the ocean shipping industry, or by any maritime nation or community will not achieve as much as collaboration and cooperation between all the parties involved.

In December 2003, it is expected that the US Secretary of Transportation and the Chinese Minister of Communication will sign a Sino-US Trade Agreement. The FMC maintains contact and consults with the European Commission but so far it is not aware of any plan for a similar Sino-European agreement.

The FMC will play a consultative role on maritime security issues for other US Agencies that have a more direct involvement. It will probably not be involved in issues related to foreign crew visas.

Contact: Dragos Rauta