More US-flag ships found substandard post-El Faro Fairplay Daily News 7:07 am

If someone (@ombugge?) could do a cut and paste, for me it paywalled.

New investigations of vessels in the USCG’s ACP programme confirm the need for stronger oversight of class societies.

Large commercial US-flag ships continue to be in danger of accidents because of poor conditions and safety lapses more than two years after the sinking of El Faro. …

Large commercial US-flag ships continue to be in danger of accidents due to poor condition and safety lapses more than two years after the sinking of the El Faro.

Appearing before Congress on 30 January, US Coast Guard (USCG) Rear Admiral John Nadeau, Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy, testified that ongoing inspections of ships enrolled in the agency’s Alternative Compliance Program (ACP) are revealing evidence of safety breakdowns.

“I have a team out visiting what I view as the high-risk vessels that are enrolled in ACP, based on their age, their history, and their casualties. The findings indicate that it is not unique to the El Faro, we have other ships out there in substandard condition,” Nadeau told members of the Maritime Transportation subcommittee of the House of Representatives’ Transportation & Infrastructure committee.

“All elements of the safety framework, the owners and operators, the class societies, and the coastguard, must improve.”

Nadeau told Fairplay in January that he was overseeing a sweeping review of third-party organisations used by his agency, in particular the ACP, a streamlined inspection process for US-flagged vessels in which the coastguard delegates authority for certificates of inspection to authorised class societies, such as ABS.

The move to improve its oversight is in response to recommendations following the investigation into the deadly October 2015 El Faro accident in which all 33 crew were killed.

Based on results of an initial ACP oversight exam conducted in 2015 and 2016, “it was clear that multiple US cargo vessels were operating for prolonged periods in a substandard material condition”, the USCG’s Marine Investigation Board (MIB) report stated.

“Although the coastguard’s focused oversight on the ACP targeted vessels corrected the most egregious cases of non-compliance, a seminal change in the overall management and execution of the programme is urgently needed to ensure safe conditions are sustained on the enrolled US commercial vessels,” according to the MIB.

Nadeau testified that the latest information from his investigation team confirm the concerns raised by the MIB.

“We have moved out to reform our oversight program,” Nadeau said. “It starts with governance and having the proper people in place with the proper focus, to call attention and hold others accountable. That also involves having the right policy and procedures in place, the right information management systems to capture the data, collect it, and then engage with our third parties and hold them accountable. It’s an ongoing effort that will take us a little time, but we’re launched and underway.”

Currently there are 429 out of 1,167 eligible vessels enrolled in ACP, or 37%, according to data provided by the USCG. Eligible vessels are defined as US-flag, self-propelled, inspected vessels and include tankers, container ships, ro-ro vessels, general cargo, and dry bulk vessels.

Before the ACP was launched in 1997, ships were inspected for the same criteria twice: once by the USCG and a second time by an authorised classification society. “This was viewed as an inefficient use of time for both the USCG as well as vessel owners,” according to a USCG-sponsored study conducted in 2012 by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). “This programme has caused a progressive shift in inspection responsibilities from the USCG inspectors’ to classification society surveyors, the study noted.

The WPI study found that improvements to the programme’s oversight could be achieved in part by refining the Marine Information for Safety and Law Enforcement (MISLE) database, which is used by the agency to record and generate official documents such as vessel Certificates of Inspection and Certificates of Documentation.

Five years later, the MIB pointed to issues with the MISLE database as well, including its unavailability to classification society surveyors, who are “often unaware of outstanding requirements and special notes on the vessels they are surveying”.

Nadeau acknowledged at the hearing that MISLE “has not been able to capture some of the information we want it to capture, so we’re making changes now to improve that system”.

When asked by US representative Peter DeFazio of Oregon if he had the resources to carry out the task of improving third-party oversight, Nadeau said he could always do more with more funding, but asserted also that it was not simply a manpower issue.

“If you just gave me another thousand marine inspectors it wouldn’t solve this problem,” Nadeau responded. “I need to have a small core of people that are highly trained and efficient and can stay focused on this area until we get it right.”


in other words cease this nonsense of sending kids in blue coveralls with their checklists to inspect US flagged merchant vessels and replace them with experienced industry professions who are paid well because of all the knowledge they bring to the task they perform, I’d do it if the job paid six figures.


Until they scrap the current system and go back to making MI a career path rather than just having guys pass through while waiting for a promotion or a better station nothing will change.

Those just passing through used to be called Thirty Day Wonders. They had all of the training but no practical experience! How many of us have had the CG onboard to inspect something step right over a problem because that’s not what they were there to look at?

Were the days of having CG Inspectors assigned to each SY or at least covering the Yards in a certain port the best way of getting it done, I’m not sure but it sure beats what they have now!


If you and I became USCG inspectors, we’d both be fired after the first ship inspection, because we’d actually do the job. The owners and the admirals would not tolerate real inspections.


It’s to bad nobody can just admit it’s all about money. No worthwhile change is going to come of this until corporate money doesn’t affect regulatory bodies I for one don’t see this happening any time in my life. ACP programs are only as good as the companies administering them they are too easily manipulated by administrators until you can take retribution off the table I can’t see any meaningful changes happening.


Would having a rule that the society who hold Class could not also be doing the Statutory Certification on behalf of Flag State help?
(It is NOT uncommon to have SMS and ISPS done by a different society or entity from Class)

IOW; Let Class look after structural and machinery while another entity is responsible for safety aspects.
That entity does not HAVE to be a Classification Society though, but both the management and individual Inspectors MUST be vetted and approved by the Flag State Authority on a regular basis.

I was just the other day talking with someone that worked in the Office of a Major Foreign Flag Tanker Owner / Operator. The topic of having to add Liferafts and the CEO came up with the idea of just having Life Insurance Policies on the Crew Members as it would be cheaper! Needless to say they decided not to go this route but it shows the mind set and that it’s not just the Evil Americans that think about short cuts when it comes to safety!


Was this Major Foreign Flag Tanker Owner / Operator and it’s CEO foreign as well??
Lots of large Owner/Operators of foreign flag vessels are US companies, owned and managed by American nationals from offices in USA.

What difference does the nationality the Owner / Operator have with regard to proper implementation of SMS / ACP programs? I’m quite certain the same pressures exist across the board it’s not a nationality problem it’s a profit loss culture problem that seeks out the weakest link and that just so happens to be the regulatory side in this instance.

Once again it’s about money it’s not completely the operators fault it’s a culture of profit loss that drives legislation until Classification societies are not influenced by operators interests this problem isn’t going anywhere.

This problem is cross culture it has no national boundaries.

No as a matter of fact, I believe he was European and God Forbid He might have been from Norway!

Tugs, TRUE.
the USCG advancement is similar to Corporate America, " Where do you want to be in three years from now". Advancement is contingent on their movement within the organization. This is, and will be the downfall of all organizations. If I want to succeed, obtain a promotion, and gain recognition amongst your peers. You need to diverse your resume. Becoming proficient within a specific area of expertise is a promotional roadblock.
The USCG is no different.
However, during a SAR mission. I would not want anyone else there to save a life.
To the rank and file of the USCG,

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