Skip to main content

PICK A FLAG

Ms. Rose George
 This week NAUTICAL LOG was directed by a post in OLD SALT BLOG one of our favourite and 'read-daily' maritime blogs to a 'The New York Times' opinion by a writer Rose George from Leeds, England.  Now 'The New York Times' has a reputation in recent times of first forming an opinion, usually well to the left of centre, and then having a writer put together an 'opinion' from what could be biased and or least quite selective research.  This may be why this British writer was chosen for this particular article.  One should perhaps note that Ms. George has written and had published a book on the subject of sewage - "The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why it Matters"  - a truly Victorian style  title.  With this as background she is now apparently writing one about the Maritime Shipping Industry and one hopes that her research considerably improves in both quality and accuracy.  From the 'opinion' piece published by 'The New York Times' while not all poor research it really needs that improvement.  She has many grievances about our Industry and largely blames all these on so called 'Flags of Convenience' (FOC).  Many of the problems she quotes are those that have been associated with seafarers since the first traders around the Mediterranean and other parts of the world.  They can be found in vessels under national registry and FOC registry just as easily.


Here NAUTICAL LOG draws on the experience of 50 years of professional seafaring from 1953 to 2003 of which some 30 years were spent sailing in FOC vessels, namely Panama, Liberia, Bahamas, Cayman Islands and Netherlands Antilles.  The vessels included both general cargo ships, bulk carriers, tankers, container ships and passenger vessels.  While no seafarer is ever really content with everything on board a ship one can honestly say that there was no real difference between the national and flags of convenience flag state vessels.   However there were three vessels that NAUTICAL LOG refused to join when we saw their condition and a couple more which we left at the first port available - this is always an option.  Seafarers are second-rate citizens, one has to look after oneself and cover ones 'asterisk' - that's just the way it is.


As to considering that National Registers are superior to FOC Registers the International Registers of European Nations spring immediately to mind namely Norway NIS, Germany GIS, and Denmark DIS which are really FOC Registers hiding under their National flag.  Perhaps this is the most disreputable method of all with lower pay, non-national crews and absolute minimum safety and maintenance conditions yet looking like the national flag state vessels.  For further research NAUTICAL LOG would direct you to 'Wikipedia' for articles of how and why these came into being in the 1980's.  There is also the practice of transferring the Flag State without inspections between the European Union nations. This is used to hid inspection failures and delay a Port State detaining a vessel all too often with unpaid multi-national crewmembers from who-knows-where-country.  Refer to the International Transport Workers Federation website which does more than just talk like the International Maritime Organization (IMO).  The IMO elects a new fearless leader for it's paper empire later this year so one hopes for an effective IMO in the future but we are not holding our breath on that issue.


There are some 30 to 35 Ship Registers that are considered FOC Registers of these there are 13 that as of 2009 were listed as having Non-ratification of International Conventions Status they are:


Antigua/Barbuda
Bahamas  x MARPOL
Bolivia  x SOLAS
Cambodia
North Korea
Georgia
Honduras x SOLAS
Jamaica
Lebanon x SOLAS
Malta
Mongolia
St. Vincent/Grenadines
Sri Lanka x ALL CONVENTIONS


NAUTICAL LOG would like to point out that The Commonwealth of the Bahamas has numerous passenger cruise ships registered yet apparently has not ratified MARPOL a requirement for passenger vessels to sail in and out of U.S. Ports.  Bahamas registered vessels call at United States Ports regularly and yet the Port State Control which is a mission of the USCG does not detain these vessels - why not?  Political economics once again at work.


Good Watch.

Please remember the seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia - let us work with India and others to free them.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

HOW TO WEAR A LIFEJACKET

A popular U.S.-based cruise ship style
A popular European ferry style

Several times during the year NAUTICAL LOG has had visitors searching for lifejacket instructions. With two just over Christmas we decided to publish something for everybody to see and read.
Choose a Coast Guard approved life-jacket and make sure it is undamaged. Make sure life-jackets are readily accessible, never locked away. Check the fit, there are adult, child and infant sizes, the correct one MUST be used. Choose bright colour life-jackets so as to be seen easily by Search and Rescue (SAR).Put your life-jacket ON BEFORE you leave the berth. Make sure you have a light and whistle attached AND they BOTH WORK.
Good Watch

ISM CODE - AUDITING

Ships now operate under the International Management Code for Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention (ISM Code).  Since this is a Post on Auditing NAUTICAL LOG, who is a Trained Auditor, will not go through the requirements as these can be found on the Internet and in your local nautical bookshop - you do have a bookshop hopefully as they are a dying breed.  There are two types of Audit an External Audit and an Internal Audit.


The External Audit consists of the Flag State or an outside Auditing Firm coming into the Company and going through all the Protocols, Procedures and associated Manuals.  They may also hold a drill simulating a situation in one of the Company's vessels and observe the results of the Shore Staff dealing with it.  NAUTICAL LOG has been through this experience with two very different Companies and believe me it is a long, difficult, trying day not made any easier by the subsequent debrief.  The External Auditor then prepares a Report which causes a…

AN tSEIRBHIS CHABHLAIGH

This month saw the commissioning into the Irish Naval Service of a new Class of Irish Naval vessel more of the Frigate size than the previously Corvette size.  However they are all classed as Patrol vessels, the new vessel is LÉ Samuel Beckett P61.NAUTICAL LOG wishes her well and a successful service.


The older vessels saw unbelievable service and value for money the first being commissioned in 1979 and continued through the '80's and 90's into the 21st. Century.  During those years in addition to patrolling the stormy seas around the rugged Irish coast they made passages across the Western Ocean to the United States and Canada, south to South America as far as Argentina, and east to Asia as far as Korea.  Such passages are really remarkable for such small vessels and show the competence of Irish seafarers who as Naval Officers and Merchant Marine Officers train together.

Good Watch.