One in 10 ships breaking rules on safety

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The Independent Online
ONE IN TEN visiting cargo ships inspected by the Marine Safety Agency in July were detained because they did not comply with international safety regulations.

Eighteen ships were detained under the regulations, including 10 which had significant defects in life-saving and firefighting equipment, according to the Government's new 'ships of shame' list. Six had defects in their radios while a further two had manning deficiencies because officers did not have suitable qualifications.

Each month, the agency carries out about 185 inspections, one- third of all ships visiting UK ports. The list is now being published every month as a result of a recommendation in the report from Lord Donaldson in the wake of the Braer pollution incident off Shetland in January 1993. In June, the first time the list was published, 17 ships were detained.

Of the ships detained in July, four were from Malta, and others under 'flags of convenience' included two from Liberia, and one each from Honduras and Panama. There were also two ships from Guinea-Bissau; other flags included Denmark, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. Most were released after about a week once defects had been fixed.

The most serious incident involved a Maltese cargo vessel, the 3,447-tonne United Trust, which was detained at Plymouth after inspectors found serious structural defects with corroded ballast tanks, defects in radio installation, inadequate manning and pipes missing or broken. The vessel was allowed to leave after four days' patching up for Rostock in Germany for permanent repairs

Another ship, the Maltese registered 10,853-tonne Kapitan Luca, which had originally been detained in June, was released after being detained for nine days when an ammonia leak was found in the compression room and the gas detection system proved inoperable.

Other incidents included a hatch not being waterproof, several lifeboats being inoperable, an oily engine room which was a fire risk, faulty steering gear and a faulty fire pump.

Shipping inspectors feel that making the findings public will deter shipowners from using poorly equipped vessels.

Robin Bradley, chief executive of the Marine Safety Agency, said: 'The response from the industry to our June detention list has been encouraging. The publication of a monthly list will strengthen our campaign against unsafe ships and we will work closely with all those who share that aim.'