Croatian Ships Placed on Grey List
Croatian shipping,which spent five years on an international black list, is again facing trouble because of poor technical conditions and failure to meet standards.
By Miranda Novak for Southeast European Times in Zagreb - 09/09/04
As a Paris MOU signatory, Croatia has made a commitment to improving maritime safety and preventing substandard ships from operating. [File]
Croatian media recently reported that the country has been placed on a "grey list" by the Paris Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Port State Control, together with 23 other countries, including Tunisia, Brazil, Kuwait, Austria, Spain and Poland. The Paris MOU, established in 1982, and joined by Croatia in 1997, sets the standards for inspection checks conducted at ports along the European coastline and the North Atlantic basin from North America to Europe.
For five years, ending in 2001, Croatia was on the organisation's black list, due to the growing number of Croatian ship owners who ran old and poorly kept ships under the home flag. One ship, for example, was detained at a Spanish port because its owners had failed to make necessary repairs and owed several months' worth of harbor fees. In some cases, ships were banned from leaving port, then put on public auction with their crews remaining unpaid. At worst, seafarers died when malfunctions resulted in explosions or other catastrophes.
Many of the ship owners involved in such incidents have gone out of business. But the average age of the Croatian fleet remains high, and problems continue to surface during inspections. In 2003, six detainments were recorded during 66 inspection checks. In the first quarter of this year alone, four ships were detained. As a result, Croatia is at risk of again being placed on the black list.
In August, a roundtable organised by the Seafarer’s Union of Croatia was held in Rijeka. One of the speakers was Tatjana Krilic, the principal inspector for maritime safety at the Croatian Ministry of Sea, Tourism, Transport and Development. Noting that ship owners are required to maintain equipment in good working condition, she called for co-operation with inspectors and urged that special attention be paid to ship elements that have failed inspections and led to detentions. Of all failures discovered on ships under the Croatian flag, the most common are malfunctions with ventilation devices, airtight doors, and a variety of problems on salvage ships.
Each year, at least one three-month inspection action is conducted under the auspices of the Paris MOU, focusing on a particular area of concern. This year, for example, inspectors are checking living and working conditions. Depending on the results, ships and flag states are put on the white, grey or black list. As a Paris MOU signatory, Croatia has made a commitment to improving maritime safety and preventing the operation of substandard ships. Authorities have pledged that new technical standards will be in place soon, and that Croatia -- which boasts some of the world's most beautiful seas -- will become known for better-quality ships.