THE US Coast Guard has urged the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (Intertanko) to take strong steps to promote self-policing in the industry. Rear Admiral A.E. Henn, chief of the Coast Guard's office of marine safety, security and environmental protection, said: ''In the long run, it will pay big dividends in public goodwill, reduced operating costs and pollution clean-up expenses.'' Mr Henn's remarks were conveyed to the Intertanko annual meeting in response to questions by Mr Michael Naess, president of PetroBulk, who asked the Coast Guard to comment on how the industry had responded to the Oil Pollution Act 1990. The US official, did not side-step the question, saying the US would support the International Association of Classification Societies (ICAS) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) efforts to police classifications societies more closely. ''It is simply unconscionable that some classification societies did not take their duties seriously,'' he said. Mr Henn said some of the major oil companies, which had inspected tankers before chartering them to carry oil, such as BP, Shell and Chevron had rejected about 30 per cent of the vessels they inspected. The Institute of London Underwriters also refused to insure 85 per cent of 133 ships it inspected last year, he said, adding that the level of rejection of vessels was far too high. ''It is evident from these rejection rates and from the results of the Coast Guard's own inspections that there are still many sub-standard tank vessels in operation,'' Mr Henn said. The owners were obviously at fault for keeping these vessels in operation despite their unsuitability for use, he added. In spite of the fact that this business practice may be very risky, the ship owner's desire to do so could, at least, be understood. ''After all, they stand to make money as long as there are nations that will accept sub-standard vessels in their ports,'' Mr Henn said. But he admitted that there were also many responsible owners and operators providing high quality vessels. The US Coast Guard had received reports that sub-standard tank vessels were not being retired or replaced, he said.