As a Ship Sinks, So Does Some Credibility

The break up and sinking of the tanker Prestige last month off the coast of Spain is sure to create grass root changes in the maritime market that far exceed the economical and ecological damage caused. While it is impossible to determine, exactly, what new measures may be, there is an undeniable feeling that the powers in charge are determined to ensure that this sort of event is never repeated again. The fate of the tanker and the political and procedural situation that preceded it were fodder for the front page of the Wall Street Journal recently, not exactly the publicity the maritime sector seeks. There are many issues that jump to the forefront of the Prestige incident, including, and in no particular order: Procedures regarding ports of safe refuge; Phase-out of single hull tankers; Survey and Inspection; Design, Construction and Maintenance; and Marine Salvage and Recovery.

To the credit of all involved, the flow of information regarding the ship, its history, its status and its prospects was clear and free flowing from all corners, including SMIT, ABS, IMO and INTERTANKO. The availability and use of information could prove critical in assuring catastrophes such as Prestige are not repeated.

The following is excerpted from IMO's release on the matter on November 20: "IMO's main concern now is to establish, as quickly and as thoroughly as possible, exactly what went wrong in this case so that the effectiveness of the regulatory framework that IMO has put in place can be properly assessed and action taken, if need be, to rectify any weaknesses or deficiencies identified. Under the provisions of SOLAS and MARPOL, the Flag State Administration is required to conduct an investigation into serious casualties. The Flag State authorities of the Bahamas are therefore urged to expedite their investigation into the incident and provide IMO with their findings, conclusions and recommendations." — Greg Trauthwein

Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 8,  Dec 2002 Greg Trauthwein

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