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Saturday, November 17, 2018


Recognising the important role of Port State Control in the effort to lift shipping standards through the use of rigorous independent inspection regimes, representatives of INTERTANKO and the Paris MoU Secretariat met in Brussels recently.  

All those present stressed the importance of maintaining the highest possible levels of integrity and professionalism in Port State Control procedures and mechanisms in order to sustain the credibility of the system, and of ensuring that such standards are maintained in all port state control regimes worldwide. 

In this respect INTERTANKO noted that the Paris MoU is at the forefront of this drive and is applying standards which set an example for others. The tanker owners’ association particularly emphasised the Paris MoU’s effective and independent appeals procedure and its systems for targeting vessels whose structure, equipment or operation may be substandard.  

Regrettably the operation of Port State Control to such high standards is not always achieved by other Port State Control regimes. INTERTANKO highlighted particular problems such as:

  • “excessively enthusiastic” inspectors, in which situation the owner has  virtually no recourse to complain
  • “selective targeting”, e.g. reciprocal (tit-for-tat) targeting by a coastal state against a ship because the flag administration of that ship has been perceived to be conducting a campaign against ships registered in that coastal state
  • “easy targeting”, where a good owner is picked upon as an “easy” target by a port state inspector who has to ensure that a particular quota of inspections is achieved – thus nullifying and indeed reversing any “reward” or “incentive” for being a responsible owner
  • “malpractice”, which basically takes two forms:
    1. “third party interest”, where the inspector appears to be acting on behalf of third parties (e.g. in pressuring the ship/owner to utilise certain port services); or where the inspector harasses the ship/owner to such extent as to deter it/him from continuing in that trade (presumably driven by the interest of a competitor)
    2. “self interest”, where the inspector (either singly or collectively on behalf other inspectors) makes financial demands, ranging from cash payments to “requiring” the ship/owner to make unwarranted repairs or replacements (using a nominated supplier), to avoid either a deficiency report or a detention.  

Lately – particularly with the increased emphasis on grey and black lists, and/or where the commercial consequences are significantly heightened – the “value” of avoiding a detention, or even a deficiency notice, has escalated considerably. It is also clear that, because of the relatively low numbers of ships involved, one additional detention can have a significant influence on the port state control statistics of the owner, flag or class involved – a point apparently well-recognised in some ports.

In response Paris MoU welcomed the opportunity to meet with INTERTANKO and be given a clarification of the press report on the reported comments made at the Mare Forum in November.  The Paris MoU is as concerned as the Industry on any matter which reflects on the integrity and effectiveness of Port State Control throughout the world.  While being aware of some of the matters raised by INTERTANKO it was of value to have a discussion on all these matters.    

Both parties acknowledged that any evidence of the abuse of the Port State Control inspection regime should be highlighted and brought out into the open. 

At the conclusion of the meeting both parties agreed to encourage equitable, uniform, transparent and trusted Port State Control processes and procedures on a worldwide basis. This includes their support for:

  • regular and open communication between responsible shipowners and Port State Control officials
  • extending on a worldwide basis the Paris MoU’s independent appeals procedures for owners who are supported, by their flag or class, in their belief that they have a genuine grievance about a specific detention
  • exploration of suitable mechanisms for owners to provide confidential feedback where they have encountered particular problems
  • if necessary, the presenting of any abuse of the Port State Control powers to the IMO.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr. Alan Cubbin, Chairman of the Paris MoU said:  

“The Paris MoU is always open to discussions with all sides of the industry and is determined to protect the integrity and effectiveness of the Port State Control regime.  We will continue to work with the industry to ensure that ships are operated to the agreed International standards and to take action against the operators of sub-standard ships.  It is also important that any abuse of the Port State Control system is brought out into the open and action taken to stamp out any such abuse.”  

Peter Swift, Managing Director of INTERTANKO, commented:

“I very much appreciate the opportunity to discuss these matters directly and openly with the Paris MoU, which is held in the highest regard by the Association and its members. INTERTANKO looks forward to continuing contact and to working with both the Paris MoU and other Port State Control regimes to ensure uniform, first class procedures and processes worldwide.”

Notes for Editor:

Paris MoU, (“Memorandum of Understanding”) on Port State Control:

Port State Control is a check on visiting foreign ships to see that they comply with international rules on safety, pollution prevention and seafarers living and working conditions.  It  is a means of enforcing compliance where the owner and flag State have failed in their responsibility to implement or ensure compliance. The Port State can require defects to be put right, and detain the ship for this purpose if necessary. It is therefore also a Port State’s defence against visiting substandard shipping.  

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. 

INTERTANKO, (The International Association of Independent Tanker Owners):

INTERTANKO has been the voice of independent tanker owners since 1970, advocating safe, responsible and competitive shipping of the oil, products and chemicals that keep the world economy turning. Membership is open to independent owners and operators of oil and chemical tankers who fulfill the Association's membership criteria.

Independent owners operate some 80% of the world’s tanker fleet and the vast majority are members of INTERTANKO. The organisation has over 240 members, whose combined fleet comprises more than 2,160 tankers totaling over 160 million dwt. INTERTANKO's associate membership stands at over 270 companies with an interest in safe tanker shipping.

INTERTANKO is a forum where the industry meets and a valuable source of first-hand information, opinions and guidance. INTERTANKO represents a professional, efficient and respected industry dedicated to delivering a reliable service that is essential to our everyday lives.


Paris MOU:

Richard Schiferli: e-mail:   

Tel: +31 70 351 1509, Fax:+31 70 351 1599.


Bill Box: e-mail:

Tel: +44 20 7977 7010, Fax:+44 20 7977 7011