Home' Baird Maritime : July 2011 Contents Last year, the Danish coaster 'Faxborg' was re-flagged
to the flag of the African state of Togo with Lomé as port
The re-flagging was done in order to survive in a tough market
for smaller cargo ships and in an attempt to avoid large invoices
from the ship's former classification society.
"I am not proud at all of the new national flag on my coaster
'Faxborg'," said Captain Hans Poulsen.
"I did not really have any choice, as [a well-known European
classification society] was about to cancel my classification on the
ship because of a dispute over the invoice for their recent survey.
In my opinion I really got nothing for the DKK50,000
[US$10,000] on their latest invoice", said Poulsen.
"My present Greek classification society sent an invoice for the
Swedish surveyor who had travel expenses of US$188.86. Two
surveyors [from the aforementioned classification society] travelling
from Fredericia to Marstal had a price tag of US$3,597 in comparison."
"I am not trying to shortcut any rules or regulations, but
barely trying to survive and cut out unnecessary expenses,"
In Australia, where ill informed transport ministers around the
country voted to give the regulatory control to IACS members for
domestic vessels over 35 metres, the financial pain has been the same.
Ferry owner Stephanie Dawson, the only female ex-President of
Interferry, and, incidentally, my spouse, was astonished by the
invoice for, "assessment of a 56-metre ferry Safety Plan (yes just the
safety plan) by a leading classification society for AU$18,400
"This was over 12 times the fee under the local state rules two
years ago, and during these tough times the last thing we need is
usury by IACS members", she said.
IACS is focused mainly on profit not safety
Following this she received an astonishing quote again from the
same society for AU$24,000 to prepare the tonnage certificate for
this small vessel! Not only is this a one-day exercise for a
competent naval architect, it confirms that IACS members are
focused on profits and not safety.
All competent regulators except recent arrivals from another
planet know full well that tonnage certificates have absolutely
nothing to do with the safety, stability, or structural compliance of
any vessel. It is an antiquated form of benchmarking shipping fees
that costs many seafarers their lives, which was clearly highlighted
by the late Professor Ernst Vossnack.
This renowned Dutch naval architect clearly illustrated that
many "paragraph"-sized vessels, (499/999/1499GRT vessels) were
designed with small forecastles and no buoyancy aft to maximise
deadweight while minimising GRT, and many were broaching in
heavy stern seas with a loss of lives. Vessel length is a far more
sensible benchmark than GRT. Even the Panamanians promptly
figured that one out when they wrenched control of the canal
from the Americans.
IACS members, which all must have this knowledge, have stayed
silent on this issue. Perhaps it is for two reasons: The first is that they
make a lot of money preparing tonnage certificates,
and the second is that they actually really do not have a clue
anymore about the realities of going to sea. So many of the newer,
younger IACS field people have very little knowledge about the
subject they are regulating.
I recently had the dubious pleasure of listening to a young
IACS member's naval architect protesting that the Philippines
Flag authority MARINA did not have the skills to issue a tonnage
certificate, and that her classification society should be charged
with this very serious task. Bill and Ben the flowerpot men could
do a tonnage certificate and come up with any number that
wouldn't adversely affect the safety of a ship.
Why would Australia's AMSA, with so called clever ex-seafaring
people at the helm, arrogantly dismiss approaches by industry
groups for lower cost regimes for the survey of domestic vessels,
such as non-IACS groups, which have successfully regulated these
vessels for the last few decades?
The Japanese however, possibly the best coastal shipping
operators in the world, have realised that coastal shipping needs to
be given special preference otherwise all the extra costs would be
directly passed to consumers. As such the Japanese regime for
coastal vessels' plan approval and survey is only a fraction of the
cost of international ship obligations
"IACS makes a unique contribution to maritime safety and
regulation" says the IACS website about their 12 member societies,
implying that no one else provides such a service. What rubbish!
This is followed immediately by self-serving propaganda about
commonality of rules.
Anyone who deals with the building and operating of coastal
vessels will testify to the fact that IACS members constantly
Will an IACS member accept steel or aluminium approved by
another IACS member? NO!
Will an IACS member accept engine type or batch approval by
another IACS member? NO!
These are the basic elements of ship construction,
and that's just the start of where IACS members disagree with
Most IACS members are registered as charities and
do not pay tax
The only place where IACS members agree with each other is
in invoicing and this is blatant price fixing of obscene
proportions, particularly relating to smaller vessels, even though
in most countries price fixing is prohibited. Proof of this was the
dawn raid in January this year on the London-based IACS by the
EU investigating price fixing cartels.
Add to this the bewildering fact that most IACS members are
registered as charities or "not for profit organisations" and hence
do not pay taxes in the countries that they are effectively
robbing. This is an appalling situation. Political leaders of all
maritime nations should certainly be keeping their domestic
vessels away from piracy of any kind.
Wow! If all of the rest of us trying to make a living in the
marine industry could only register ourselves as charities and
charge what we like, life would be wonderful indeed!
If you own or operate a domestic vessel, take this article and
nail it to the desk of your local politician.
Remove IACS from
small ship sector
With STUART BALLANTYNE
THE THOUGHTS OF A
July 2011 BAIRD MARITIME
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