The following is text from a statement by Rear Adm. Paul Thomas, assistant commandant for prevention policy for the U.S. Coast Guard:
(WASHINGTON) — This annual report on Port State Control marks the 18th issue and details the statistics related to enforcement of the regulations under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), and the International Ship & Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code on foreign-flagged vessels trading in U.S. ports.
For 2016, our PSC activity increased by 125 safety exams over our 2015 totals. Though our exam totals increased, I am pleased to report that we saw our detention total decrease significantly from 202 to 103, our lowest total in five years. Our three-year rolling average detention ratio that was on the rise over the last two years has made a slight drop from 1.67 percent to 1.63 percent. Though the drop in detentions is encouraging overall and may be a sign that owners and operators are putting greater emphasis on ship maintenance, we are seeing a rise in the percentage of detentions related to firefighting and fire protection systems for the third straight year. As in 2015, there were a high number of detentions issued due to Port State Control officers (PSCOs) identifying quick-closing fuel shutoff valves on fuel oil tanks blocked in the open position. Additionally, there were detentions issued for inoperable main fire pumps and instances where manual valves on hyper-mist systems located in unattended machinery spaces were discovered in the closed position, rendering the system inoperative.
I am also pleased to report that our MARPOL Annex I deficiencies have been on the decline over the past several years, and I hope that vessel owners and operators remain committed to meeting environmental compliance standards. However, despite the numerous detentions, civil penalties, and even criminal prosecution actions in the most egregious cases, we continue to find instances where ships' crews flagrantly disregard MARPOL Annex I requirements. When an OWS is discovered to be intentionally bypassed or when PSCOs are presented with a false record book or given a false statement during a PSC examination, the United States will continue to enforce our laws and treaty obligations, as well as pursue available domestic enforcement options, whether civil or criminal.
For those exemplary vessels that have consistently adhered to environmental compliance while also demonstrating an immense commitment to environmental stewardship, the Coast Guard is expanding upon our QUALSHIP 21 (QS21) program to recognize them. The expanded program, called QUALSHIP 21 E-Zero, is based on strict environmental compliance criteria and provides additional benefits to those ships that are able to qualify.
Click here to view the report.