THE United States has named 15 countries whose ships will be targeted for increased safety inspections when in US waters. The list was developed at the direction of Congress. The countries are Paraguay, Dominican Republic, Belize, Peru, St Vincent and Grenadines, Ecuador, Venezuela, Honduras, Argentina, United Arab Emirates, Malta, Vanuatu, Cyprus, India and the Bahamas. The action, part of a US initiative which formally began on May 1, is designed to eliminate sub-standard foreign-flag ships from US waters. The initiative grew out of concern over the threat posed to US ports and the environment by sub-standard foreign-flag shipping. The initiative sets boarding priorities based on the performance records of shipowners, classification societies and flag states. The countries listed were found to have higher than average rates of sub-standard ships. The increased attention direct at sub-standard ships has resulted in more foreign flag ships being detained in the US under the authority of various international conventions. In the first six months of fiscal 1994, the US exceeded the number of interventions carried out in all of fiscal year 1993. The initiative is expected to encourage those responsible for sub-standard ships to either cease operations in US waters or adopt management practices that ensure compliance with accepted standards.