SHIPPING | Brussels to ‘name and shame’ substandard operators

Ship operators calling EU ports to be classed and listed on a public register from January 2011

SUBSTANDARD operators calling at European Union ports will be “named and shamed” from next January, the European Commission warned today.

All ship operators with EU calls will be classed according to a formula and listed on a public register.

Operators are defined by the company name on the ship’s International Safety Management certificate. The new register will take into account criteria such as vessel type, deficiencies and detentions within the Paris Memorandum of Understanding area.

Port state control data will be collected by Thetis, the database operated by the European Maritime Safety Agency. The new inspection system, established by the EU port state control directive of 2009, makes data reporting a legal requirement and supersedes existing national port state control systems.

“More transparency in this sector will showcase companies with strong safety records, giving them a competitive advantage,” said EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas.

“The current regime still operates with a national logic, that is, the selection of the 25% of ships for inspection in national ports is determined by different national authorities,” the Commission said in a statement.

“There is some but limited EU-wide co-operation between different national authorities.The results of all the different national inspections are currently not systematically analysed on a pan-European basis or published on an EU-wide basis.”

Operators with a good record will be rewarded with fewer inspections, while the Commission hopes substandard shipping will be forced out of EU waters entirely.

“EU companies are fine with this as they are normally at the top end of the list,” said one Commission source. “I think the biggest changes will involve ships coming from Asia, and ships trading in the Black Sea in particular.”

Despite the ease with which ships can be transferred between flag states, owners and operators, the Brussels executive believes its new system will be waterproof.

“Each ship has an IMO number,” the source said. “It’s very difficult nowadays for operators to hide.”

Seminars led by Emsa have taken place in recent months to prepare industry for the changeover. The Thetis database will take over some functions until now handled by the Paris MoU.

The Brussels directive also establishes criteria for banning ships from EU waters entirely, though certain governments succeeded in watering down the original provisions.

The public register will be updated daily.

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