Vessel was held over fire safety, says department

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 December, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 December, 1998, 12:00am

The Hong Kong Marine Department has defended its detention of a multi-purpose vessel in July as being valid because the ship had several deficiencies related to fire fighting.

Marine director Tsui Shung-yiu said the vessel, New Hakuba, formerly Dragon Sunrise, was detained by inspectors initially because it possessed International Safety Management (ISM) Code compliance documents for a tanker when it was classified as a tanker and a chemical carrier.

'Our inspectors could not check whether possession of such documentation was correct immediately,' he said.

The inspectors had to verify the matter with the Italian classification society Registro Italiano Navale (Rina).

Although Rina had issued the ISM Code documentation, the Panamanian-flagged vessel was classed by China Classification Society.

The checks by Hong Kong inspectors showed that under the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) interpretation, ships could carry one type of certification if they normally operated as one type of vessel, in this case as a tanker.

'That is why we withdrew the detention,' Mr Tsui said.

'However, we continued to detain the vessel, not because it did not comply with the ISM Code, but because it had several other deficiencies.' Marine Department spokesman P. C. So said the deficiencies were related to the vessel's emergency fire pump, life-saving equipment, fire flaps and fire central plan.

The vessel was released on August 17 after the deficiencies were rectified, Mr So said.

The New Hakuba, operated by Hong Kong-based Wah Shing Shipping, was built in 1977.

The detention of the 2,610 gross tonne ship has raised several issues about both port state control and the implementation of the ISM Code, a Singapore Business Times report says.

Last week, a Rina spokesman said port state control statistics had to be drawn up and results evaluated carefully to avoid inaccurate conclusions being made on the basis of small samples and without an effective validation procedure.

A Lloyd's List report said the Hong Kong Marine Department's move to revoke its original decision about the detention would have an impact on Rina's 'league rating' in the inspection campaign on ISM Code compliance by the Tokyo memorandum of understanding (MOU) secretariat.

With one vessel, the New Habuka, detained out of the 17 inspected, Rina had the worst detention rate of all at 5.9 per cent, higher than Lloyd's Register's 3.8 per cent and Class NK's 2.7 per cent.

Following the cancellation of the ISM-related arrest of the New Habuka, Rina rocketed from the worst to the best registry under the Tokyo MOU. The MOU secretariat is likely to come under pressure from the IACS to address such criticism.

The main concern of shipowners is that a vessel may conform with the ISM Code but could be detained for deficiencies such as 'safety in general'.