Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Ship safe: report released into the inquiry into the Australian Maritime Safety Authority Annual Report 1996-97



Download WordDownload Word

image

 

The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia

House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications, Transport and Microeconomic Reform

 

Media Release

 

26 August 1998

 

Ship safe

 

Report released into the inquiry into the Australian Maritime S afety Authority Annual Report 1996-97.

 

Today Mr Paul Neville MP, committee Chair, announced the committee’s findings and 14 recommendations on ship safety.

 

Mr Neville said:

Shipping provides a commercial lifeline between Australia and its trading partners. It is vital that this mode of transport be operated safely. Otherwise, human lives, the marine environment and cargo will be endangered.

 

In listening to people with a range of perspectives on the shipping industry, the committee was struck by the challenge of developing and maintaining a culture of safety, rather than prescribing more rules that may be evaded by a few unscrupulous players. It is clear that Australia has played an important role, thus far, in developing such a culture of safety but there is still a major task ahead.

 

Many flag states, port states, classification societies, operators, charterers and other parties insist on high standards and act in a responsible manner. Others appear to adopt an approach which seeks to maximise short term returns, even at the expense of lives, cargoes, the marine environment and their own reputations.

 

This inquiry built on the findings of the earlier reports on Ships of Shame . Improvements appear to have been made primarily in the first four focus areas of the inquiry— quality of ships, operational issues, port state control, and crew training and competency. The committee is concerned that the fifth focus area, crew welfare, may have declined.

 

Members of the committee are appalled by the callous treatment of some seafarers. We heard reports of physical, mental and sexual abuse, as well as financial exploitation and inadequate accommodation. There should be no tolerance of such a culture of fear and intimidation.

 

The abuse and neglect of seafarers constitute both a violation of human rights and a serious risk factor for ship safety. While these are partly commercially driven, they ultimately derive from a fundamental lack of respect for human life, and are facilitated by a legal framework that can allow perpetrators to hide behind corporate veils or slip through jurisdictional cracks.

 

Further, Mr Neville said:

Attention should be paid to a ship as a social system as well as a means of transport and a workplace. Without this, the prospect of a global culture of safe shipping is remote. To this end, the committee recommends that the tragic incident involving the MV Glory Cape be further explored, that Australia ratify International Labor Organization Convention 147 and that the Commonwealth provide interim assistance for seafarers’ welfare organisations.

 

Other findings include the following issues.

 

Flag states remain a potentially weak link in the chain of maritime responsibility. The committee supports the efforts of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in seeking to make flag states more accountable for the ships they register.

 

In view of the substantial commercial benefit to be gained by some from operating substandard ships, the committee recommends that AMSA should investigate the effectiveness of a port state control scheme that would provide a commercial incentive for ships to be operated responsibly.

 

The committee was shocked at the hours of duty required of some seafarers and regards the impact of fatigue as a serious safety risk. For example, the committee was told that a person who has been awake for between 18 and 24 hours has a similar level of performance to a person with a blood alcohol level of 0.05. The committee was also told of seafarers using amphetamines in order to stay awake. The committee recommends that fatigue levels be monitored and addressed by both AMSA and IMO and that the Commonwealth consider ratifying International Labor Organization Convention 180.

 

The committee notes the commitment to safer shipping demonstrated by many industry participants and urges these responsible players to maintain the pressure on substandard operators. Australia can be justly proud of AMSA’s conscientious port state control program as well as its active involvement at IMO.

 

Under the terms of reference the committee inquired into, and reported on, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority Annual Report 1996—97 . In conducting its inquiry, the committee’s emphasis was on ship safety under five focus areas—quality of ships, operational issues, port state control, crew training and competency and crew welfare.

 

The committee received 33 submissions and supplementary submissions. It held a public forum in Sydney on 14 July 1998 in which 23 participants joined Members of the committee to examine ship safety issues. The committee thanks all those who so generously assisted the committee in its inquiry.

 

Copies of the report are available from Government Info Shop and at

 

http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/ctmr/index.htm

 

Copies have been sent to each organisation which made a submission and to each witness who participated in the public forum.

 

Attached are the committee’s 14 recommendations and preface .

 

For further information

Media comment: Paul Neville MP, Committee Chair, 07 4152 0744

Background: Meg Crooks, committee secretary, 02 6277 4601

 

Correspondence and inquiries: Committee secretary House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications, Transport and Microeconomic Reform Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600 Tel (02) 6277 4601; Fax (02) 6277 2067

E-mail CTMR.Reps@aph.gov.au

 

 

Recommendations

 

Chapter 2 Quality of ships

 

Recommendation 1

 

The committee recommends that the Commonwealth seeks to have the International Maritime Organization (IMO) give priority to the development of:

 

* effective means of ensuring that flag states meet their responsibilities under safety and pollution prevention conventions

 

* mechanisms for

 

- flag states to demonstrate compliance

 

- IMO to audit and publish regular lists of compliant states. (paragraph 2.52)

 

Recommendation 2

 

The committee recommends that the Commonwealth expeditiously introduce legislation requiring ships visiting Australian ports to have protection and indemnity insurance.

 

Further, the committee recommends that this legislation also require that ships' crews are insured for occupational illness, injury, disability and death. (paragraph 2.58)

 

Chapter 3 Operational issues

 

Recommendation 3

 

The committee recommends that:

 

* all trading vessels operating in Australian waters, regardless of the nature of the voyage, come under Commonwealth jurisdiction

 

* the Commonwealth

 

- review the legislation relating to floating production storage and offloading platforms operating within the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone, for the purposes of clarifying jurisdictional responsibilities

 

- communicate its findings to relevant players in the Australian and international shipping industry

 

- ensure that adequate inspections are unde rtaken. (paragraph 3.20)

 

Recommendation 4

 

The committee recommends that marine pilots be required to report all serious safety deficiencies to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. (paragraph 3.25)

 

Recommendation 5

 

The committee recommends that the Commonwealth, in consultation with the States/Territories and appropriate parties, establish a national training and selection framework for port pilots. (paragraph 3.30)

 

Chapter 4 Port state control

 

Recommendation 6

 

The committee recommends that the Commonwealth support action at the International Maritime Organization requiring ships to be fitted with automatic identification systems. (paragraph 4.21)

 

Recommendation 7

 

The committee recommends that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority continues to initiate action through the Asia Pacific Memorandum of Understanding to achieve a consistently high standard in port state control inspections in the region. (paragraph 4.24)

 

Recommendation 8

 

The committee recommends that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) monitor more closely ships visiting out ports.

 

Further, the committee recommends that AMSA develop and implement a strategy to maximise the likelihood that harbour masters at out ports will report defective ships. (paragraph 4.28)

 

Recommendation 9

 

The committee recommends that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) continues to maintain its high standard in its port state control program.

 

Further, the committee recommends that AMSA, in its implementation of port state control, investigate initiatives to substantially offset any commercial advantage accrued by the operation of substandard ships, and report the results of its investigation to Parliament by June 1999. (paragraph 4.38)

 

Chapter 5 Crew training and competency

 

Recommendation 10

 

The committee recommends that:

 

* the Australian Ma ritime Safety Authority promote international monitoring of seafarers' excessive hours of work in the interests of ameliorating and alleviating fatigue

 

* the Commonwealth investigate and report to Parliament on ratifying International Labor Organization C onvention 180 (Seafarers' Hours of Work and the Manning of Ships Convention, 1996). (paragraph 5.33)

 

Chapter 6 Crew welfare

 

Recommendation 11

 

The committee recommends that the Commonwealth evaluate and, where appropriate, address deficiencies in the existing regulatory framework and related processes with particular reference to the MV Glory Cape incident. (paragraph 6.21)

 

Recommendation 12

 

The committee recommends that the failure of the flag state (Panama) to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of the radio operator of MV Glory Cape off Port Hedland on 1 November 1995 be referred by the Commonwealth to the International Maritime Organization's Flag State Implementation subcommittee for information and investigation. (paragraph 6.22)

 

Recommendation 13

 

The committee reaffirms the recommendation in Review Inquiry into ship standards and safety-Progress Report (1994) and Ships of Shame-A Sequel: Inquiry into ship safety (1995) that Australia ratify International Labor Organization Convention 147. (paragraph 6.26)

 

Recommendation 14

 

The committee recommends that the Commonwealth:

 

* provide interim financial assistance on an annual basis for approved seafarers' welfare organisations, and

 

* investigate the establishment and annual funding of a National Seafarers' Welfare Network, and report the findings to Parliament by June 1999. (paragraph 6.46)

 

Preface

 

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications, Transport and Microeconomic Reform is pleased to present this report on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) Annual Report 1996-97. The report builds on the work of three previous parliamentary reports, in Ships qf Shame: inquiry into Ship Safety (1992) , Review Inquiry into Standards and Safety: Progress Report (1994) , and Ships of Shame-A Sequel: Inquiry into Ship Safety (1995) .

 

The committee was struck by the challenge of developing and maintaining a culture of safety, rather than prescribing more rules that may be evaded by a few unscrupulous players.

 

Improvements appear to have been made primarily in the first four focus areas-quality of ships, operational issues, port state control, and crew training and competency. The committee is concerned that the fifth focus area, crew welfare, appears to have declined.

 

Significant developments in ship safety have occurred since the previous parliamentary inquiries. Major international initiatives intended to enhance ship safety include the following:

 

* industry codes of practice and guidelines

* the International Safety Management Code (ISM Code)

* regional port state control arrangements

* the revision of the Convention on Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW95)

* International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions

* the updating of international conventions which aim to protect the environment.

 

Despite these important initiatives, the shipping industry has an uneven, and often inadequate, culture of safety. Many flag states, port states, classification societies, operators, charterers and other parties insist on high standards and act in a responsible manner. Others appear to adopt an approach which seeks to maximise short term returns, even at the expense of lives, cargoes, the marine environment and their own reputations.

 

In order to maximise their effectiveness, the recommendations outlined in this report are based on the following principles.

 

* Where possible, initiatives should build on existing strengths, such as Australia's highly regarded port state control program and Australia's respected role at the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

 

Where there are adequate regulations the focus should be on implementation rather than new regulation.

 

* Where possible, market signals should be utilised to guide the beh aviour of industry players.

 

The committee commends the efforts of the industry and its regulators to enhance the safety of shipping. Nevertheless, the committee is deeply concerned that a minority continues to gain a commercial advantage by flouting inter national conventions.

 

Quality of ships

 

The committee notes the significant developments in vessel quality in Australian waters, particularly for bulk carriers. This improvement is due to the efforts of AMSA as well as a range of industry participants. However, the committee is concerned that some flag states are still failing to undertake their international obligations, and supports AMSA's work in the IMO Flag State Implementation subcommittee. The committee also recommends that protection and indemnity cover be required of ships visiting Australia.

 

Operational issues

 

There have been some important developments in relation to the safe operation of ships. For example, the International Safety Management Code constitutes a global attempt to establish a culture of safety in shipping. The committee has isolated three operational issues to be the subject of recommendations. These are the need for streamlining and clarifying the jurisdictional coverage for commercial vessels, a requirement for marine pilots to report serious safety deficiencies, and the need for a national training and selection framework for Australian port pilots.

 

Port state control

 

The committee notes the high regard in which AMSA's port state control program is held. It also notes that AMSA is sharing its expertise with other countries in the Asia Pacific region. The committee has made several recommendations in the sector of port state control. In view of the substantial commercial benefit to be gained by some from operating substandard ships, the committee recommends that AMSA should investigate and, if appropriate, implement a strategy to offset this benefit. The committee also recommends that the IMO require vessels to be fitted with automatic identification systems, that AMSA focus more attention on out ports, and that achieving a consistently high standard of inspections in the Asia Pacific region continue to be a priority for AMSA.

 

Crew training and competency

 

The major development in the area of crew training and competency has been the revision of the International Convention on Standards for Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (to be fully implemented by 1 February 2002). The committee is particularly concerned at the impact of fatigue and recommends that this issue be monitored and addressed by both AMSA and the IMO.

 

Crew welfare

 

Members of the committee are disturbed by the extent and severity of breaches of crew welfare. There should be no tolerance of such a culture of fear and intimidation. The abuse and neglect of seafarers constitute both a violation of human rights and a serious risk factor for ship safety. While violations of crew welfare are partly commercially driven, they ultimately derive from a fundamental lack of respect for human life. Such violations are facilitated by a legal framework that can allow perpetrators to hide behind corporate veils or slip through jurisdictional cracks.

 

Attention should be paid to a ship as a social system as well as a means of transport and a workplace. Without this, the prospect of a global culture of safe shipping is remote. To this end, the committee recommends that the tragic incident involving the MV Glory Cape be further explored, that Australia ratify International Labor Organization Convention 147 and that the Commonwealth provide assistance for seafarers' welfare organisations.

 

On behalf of the committee, I wish to express the Members' thanks to the individuals and organisations that participated in the inquiry. The committee appreciates the promptness and quality of the submissions received. Members of the committee found it ve ry useful to discuss relevant issues with participants in the shipping industry who attended the public forum held on 14 July 1998.

 

The committee notes the commitment to safer shipping demonstrated by many industry participants and urges these responsible players to maintain the pressure on substandard operators. I would particularly like to take this opportunity to commend AMSA for its demonstrated commitment to safer shipping. Australia can be justly proud of AMSA's conscientious port state control program as well as its active involvement at IMO.

 

For committee deputy Chair, Hon Peter Morris MHR, this is the culmination of four inquiries into ship safety in which he has taken a leadership role, both at the national and international level-the committee members salute his contribution to this important endeavour.

 

I would also like to thank the committee secretariat for their enthusiasm and dedication. Rose Verspaandonk, Meg Crooks, Kate Tremble and Rachel Carew worked strenuously to meet the inquiry's demanding schedule.

 

Paul Neville MP

Chair

 

August 1998

 

 

rd