Rainbow Nelson | LLOYD’S LIST
PANAMA, the world’s largest ship register, has ended a two-year stretch in the uncomfortable company of pariahs North Korea, Bolivia and Libya on the Paris MoU black list of flag states.
An unpopular, tough-love inspection regime introduced in July 2008 for ageing Panama-flagged ships calling in European ports has achieved the desired results for the manager of 22% of the world fleet, according to Roberto Linares, administrator of the Panama Maritime Authority.
He said the register had been told ahead of Paris MoU’s publication of its annual report for 2009 that the inspection record for Panamanian flagged ships over the last twelve months was enough to see Panama move from the black to grey list of flag states.
“Panama has received the news from the secretary general of the Paris MoU, Richard Schiferli, that in 2009, of the 2,741 ships inspected we have only had 162 ships detained, which would place us outside the black list,” said Mr Linares.
Mr Schiferli told Lloyd’s List: “Panama has moved to the lower part grey list of the Paris MoU.”
The full results of the Paris MoU inspections and detentions for 2009 will be published on June 21, Mr Schiferli said.
A new Panamanian inspection regime, which required ships over 20-year-old vessels to have “occasional surveys” before sailing to European waters, was introduced in July 2008 and tightened up in October 2009. A threat of “zero tolerance” for repeat offenders detained in Europe has resulted in a sharp reduction in detentions.
This year, Panama’s fleet of 8,835 commercial vessels, with a combined tonnage of 212m gt, has seen its detention rate in the Paris MoU almost cut in half. Only 46 vessels were detained from a total of 1,188 inspections. The detention percentage of 3.9% this year compares favourably with the 5.9% rate in 2009.
It represents an important achievement for Alfonso Castillero, director of the PMA’s merchant marine department, who introduced the tougher requirements under the former administration headed up by Fernando Solorzano.
The zero tolerance policy introduced under the new administration of Mr Linares proved unpopular with lawyers and class societies, who were threatened with the prospect of fines and deletions of vessels and the banning of inspectors that failed to pick up deficiencies later detected in European ports.
The success in removing Panama from a list that results in more rigorous targeting by port state control inspectors will now, however, make the flag more attractive to quality tonnage.
“Panama is committed to guarantee for its clients a flag of excellence with confidence in the safety of its ships and for this we require that they comply with the demands of international regulations in this area,” Mr Castillero said. “For this reason we can celebrate with enthusiasm our exit from the black list of the Paris MoU as it reinforces the credibility of our users in the services that we provide for the maritime industry.”
He said the flag’s aim was to continue to improve the detention rate to force the flag onto Paris MoU’s white list, alongside the likes of open register rivals Barbados, Liberia and the Marshall Islands.