Coast Guard: Ship detentions up in 2015, but vessel age not a factor


The following is text written by Capt. Kyle P. McAvoy, office chief, Commercial Vessel Compliance, for the U.S. Coast Guard's 2015 Port State Control (PSC) report:

(WASHINGTON) — This annual report 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 2015, our PSC activity increased by 33 exams over our 2014 totals. Despite this very small increase, we saw our detention total rise from 143 to 202, our highest total since 1998. Our three-year rolling average detention ratio that was on a steady decline between 2011 and 2013 has now risen for the second straight year from 1.31 percent to 1.67 percent. There is no one statistic or factor that can account for these increases. For instance, though bulk carriers continue to lead the detention count with almost 40 percent of all detentions, we found no correlation between the number of detentions and the age of the ship. Our data showed that 70 percent of all bulk carrier detentions were issued to vessels 12 years old or newer. Additionally, we were also surprised to find a jump in detentions on chemical tankships over the last year. We attribute these increases, in part, to our efforts in improving our initial port state control officer (PSCO) training programs, which focus on the PSCO’s responsibility to recognize when deficiencies indicate a substandard condition. We’ve also updated our vessel specific job aids, which are used by PSCOs for reference when conducting exams. In addition, we are conducting quarterly activity quality reviews with our units. We review existing databases closely looking at exams where deficiencies were uncovered on the most critical systems, and we are verifying that our PSCOs are properly applying the detention criteria as outlined in IMO’s Procedures for Port State Control. The Coast Guard will continue to study trends and modify our training initiatives accordingly.

This year we’ve seen a rise in detentions related to the intentional manipulation of fire protection systems. For example, several detentions have been issued due to the PSCO observing quick closing fuel shutoff valves on service tanks blocked in the open position, making them incapable of remote closure from outside the space in the event of a fire. Additionally, we continue to find vessels that have issues with their oily water separators (OWS), or where the OWS is bypassed to discharge oily waste directly overboard. While the vast majority of the maritime community is in compliance, I challenge the entire maritime community to make it a goal to eliminate unsafe practices and treat our environment with respect. Moreover, I hope our industry leaders will remain dedicated to nurturing a culture of safety and security on their ships with continued advances in the future.

To read the complete report, click here.

By Professional Mariner Staff