U.S. flag slips into Paris MOU's "Gray List"

In 2015 - 2017 U.S. flag ships had 203 inspections and 9 detentions. With 8 or less detentions the U.S. would have stayed on the white list.

link is here

With that few inspections going white list / grey list doesn’t have much meaning.

Doesn’t it have practical meaning in that there will be more inspections in future by reason of not making the cut for white?

Oh yes, I just meant the sample was small and going from 8 to 9 and back to 8 doesn’t necessary reflect actual changes in the fleet. One less detention in three years and back on the white list.

More inspections would result in a larger sample size and might even help assuming the current situation is partly a result of bad luck.


Still on the white list for Tokyo MOU area of ops.

So what’s that prove. It’s just a measurement metric.

In order to get any meaningful insight from this you’d have to see what the dententions were actually for.

What would dententions or other 835 actions by USCG in the US have to do with statistics from the Paris MOU?

Port states may share history world wide but it appears these lists are based on regional enforcement activities.

The excess factor is the result of some formula they have meant to equalize the varying amounts of inspections, vessels and detentions.



I have been searching in Norwegian records and media but cannot find anything about detention of a US-flag ship in Norwegian ports this year, or last.

Have you got any details, like ships name, port of detention, or if there where more defects than a radio cert over/near expiry date?


Some of the detention lists are lengthy.

The Paris MOU has a pretty good search function - https://www.parismou.org/inspection-search/inspection-search


OK reason for detention is given as the expired Safety Radio Cert. (Exp.04.06.2018)
There were also three other deficiencies noted, but not amounting to detention.

There is one exemption from the +/- 3mth. rule, which is if the vessel is embarking on a voyage that will cause the extension time to be exceeded.

In this case this MAY mean calling at a US port within that period?
(Or can the annual survey be carried out by authorized surveyors outside USA?)

PS> She is off Norway right now, heading from Gdansk to Grande Anse CA:


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They can be done nearly anywhere.

In that case they probably got the survey done by a local surveyor in Haugesund authorized by the Norwegian Telecoms Authorities and the detention was lifted.

It would help matters if US were to be a little more cooperative in ratifying IMO conventions. USA is usually the last in signing up to any initiative by IMO ( except for ISPS which was a US baby, hence forced everyone else to sign up at double the normal speed). Why is the USA not a party to any MOU? She should be actually joining the Paris as well as the Tokyo MOU. But what we see now is USA increasingly isolating itself from the rest of the world in every trade pact or alliance. No wonder there will be reaction, including your allies.


Well said. Not just limited to Marine stuff either.

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It’s funny but if you look on the Paris MOU site…
Current performance list is HERE
You come to a list that shows…
US is no. 36 on the white list ahead of at least 3 Paris MOU members and same list showing 3 Paris MOU members on the grey list. Also 4 Paris MOU members are not listed on any list, presumably this means only that their ships have not been subjected to any PSC inspections in the Paris MOU area.

So I guess they haven’t gotten around to updating their website since that link goes to the previous rolling period data.

But again what does this prove? I don’t think a single snapshot of inspection performance in a specific geographical are signals the decline and fall of a nations flag fleet - or even a specific companies fleet.

It is one measure of current performance for ships operating in one specific area and even at that assumes inspection criteria is uniformly applied throughout the region.

In light of this some of the comments here are really over the top no?

Why would you ask and say this?
They are not a member of the Paris MOU because they were not a party to the events that led to its formation.

The history of the MOU states they came about following the Amoco Cadiz spill because there was some perception that flag states were not doing a good job of inspecting their ships (shocking) and that there was poor inspection of ships being accomplished in that region. One ship could easily create a mess in multiple nations so no doubt public opinion / political pressure led to the calls for better port state inspection and the MOU. (Why Canada joined I’m not understanding unless its those French islands they got up there).

Here is the mission of the Paris MOU

Mission is to eliminate the operation of sub-standard ships through a harmonized system of port State control.

Do you really think the US is having difficulty in performing its PSC functions? I’m having a hard time discerning exactly what membership gets you. If you are a signatory of a particular IMO protocol/convention etc and you are a port state don’t you agree to enforce the same? Why do you need to join an interposing organization? Another layer of bureaucracy helps how?

How does this involve the US though? It seems to me the need for the MOU was because of the relative weak port state inspections being conducted at the time. The USCG has its limitations but I think they do a fairly good job of tracking a ships history and concentrating the inspections where they need to be. You want them to be tougher? Every time a foreign flag carrier is caught doing something nasty in the US there is a hue and cry from certain quarters of this very forum that the US is so unfair to captains and chiefs that pump oily water over the side.

What if every nation in Europe had a coast guard or other maritime administrative organization that was doing its job back in 1978? More importantly - and here is the real point - what if every flag state was doing its job in in 1978? Or heaven forbid what if ship owners themselves were doing a better job? Would there have been a need for port states to band together?

I will grant you one benefit to the MOU seems to be that they are moving towards more uniform performance of inspections and that they have some kind of training regime in place for PSC officers. But is that reason for US to join this group? Maybe just send a few OCMI’s to their training. They also have published a code of good practices, which is also a positive thing, if their members follow it.

Should the US join with Mexico and Canada and perhaps the Caribbean Islands to form a New World MOU and really crack down? Based on what? My own experience with USCG conducting PSC inspections is that they are right on par with those conducted in Europe and Asia and Australia/New Zealand.

The US has its own system for tracking and its own “target” list HERE.

Paris MOU members Cyprus and Malta are on it. So yet again what does that prove? Malta and Cyprus ships should be banned from US port or all the ports of the New World MOU? Their nations merchant marine is failing? Or does it just mean certain ships owned and operated by certain operators and trading in this certain area of the world don’t have a good track record at this time?

I know it’s the internet but does one have to spin out on overspeed trip at every news release. I would suggest one concentrate ones attention on the real problems.

The US process of accepting or ratifying an IMO convention may appear too slow for you but I would suggest that overall the US fulfills its duties being a member of IMO as well as any other nation. Contributing to development, enforcing etc. Although I haven’t studied it, it does appear formal ratification of a given convention can be subject to a more involved process than really necessary but we are still a nation of laws. Ratifying a treaty can still mean a nations laws must also be amended or new laws passed. Given a certain dysfunction in our legislative branch of government and whatever the heck is going on in the executive branch it is not surprising that the length of time from adoption to entry into force can be longer than desired. But do you have a specific IMO convention in mind where this has created a problem? Keep in mind after entry into force US flag ships trading internationally still end up complying or risk detention or denial of entry into port.

I’m not advocating isolation I just think you may be getting overly worked up over this and possibly disparaging the US just for the sake of it.

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Here is the list of Paris MOU member states:

Counter question to KPChief:
Why is it so important for USA to NOT be member of the Paris and/or Tokyo MOUs?

Your ships will be inspected and the same rules and regulations applied regardless of whether you are a member, or have ratified any and all conventions or not.

Whether a ship fly the flag of a MOU member state or not it has to comply, as has US flag ships if they want to avoid detention.

A member state can be put on the Gray or Black Lists, just like any other flag state, if their ships do not meet the IMO, or ILO’s MLC’06 standard.

You love your logical fallacies don’t you. The statement was made that US “should be joining” The burden of proof rests with the proposer not me. Besides which my post makes it pretty clear why we should not be involved with that particular group.

  1. The original group formed in response to poor performance of certain flag states in self-regulating or enforcing rules on the books at that time. Given the geographic particulars, a single disaster could impact so many nations in a small-ish area it made sense to band together in that area. So back to you what does a nation an ocean away have to gain by joining?

  2. I think being an active member of IMO is enough. Why add another layer of semi-technical bureaucrats? Waste of money and personnel resources for the US - not for the logical grouping of members.

  3. Aside from a periodic check-in by a liaison at the USCG to share enforcement tracking and training ideas whats to be gained by funding another secretariat / executive organization. Put the money into better software and marine inspectors training and pay.

  4. The Paris and Tokyo or any other PSC MOU wants to have a concentrated inspection topic for the coming year? Fine send us a memo we’ll consider it in our enforcement activities. But wouldn’t it be better to see what areas are major causes of problems in our own ports and then tailor any concentrated inspection program for those things not whatever the Paris MOU executive committee thinks is important for their own reasons based on the their experience with the ships they are seeing in their ports?

  5. Presumably all the members have gotten better at PSC since 1978, you might consider disbanding it and replacing it with a phone list of the relevant marine inspection authorities in each country. A quarterly conference call and heck even throw in an annual convention or fishing trip to meet face to face.

Each nation should do its best to live up to its enforcement obligations. If a nation feels the best way to do that is to participate in that group more power to you. Despite what you seem to be maneuvering towards I do not feel there is anything wrong or bad about the Paris MOU I just don’t see how the US fits in. Especially in light of a higher level of organization called IMO. Proud member since 1950.

One of the reasons for the MOUs is to avoid having unnecessary inspections. For example if a ship has a PSC inspection in Antwerp it doesn’t make sense to have another the next day in Rotterdam. It’s a waste of time and effort for both the government and owners not to mention the crew.

Why don’t the Paris and Tokyo MOU combine? Given the geographical separation there are fewer redundant inspection so that argument doesn’t apply.

The same argument does apply to the U.S. however. A ship sailing Jacksonville / Charleston / Baltimore / Newark is not going to be subjected to multiple PSC inspections because those ports are all in the U.S.

The United States is also geographically separate from Paris MOU and Tokyo MOU. What ever logic causes Paris and Tokyo to be separate must apply to the U.S. as well.

Why isn’t there just one color here?


Signatories to the Paris MOU (blue), Tokyo MOU (red), Indian Ocean MOU (green), Mediterranean MOU (dark green), Acuerdo de Vina del Mar (yellow)[1], Caribbean MOU (olive), Abuja MOU (dark red), Black Sea MOU (cyan) and Riyadh MOU (navy).

I knew one of you permanent squatters on this forum will be cut to the quick by my comment.
The purpose of the PSC MOU was to maintain a regional database to target high risk ships and also to avoid repitition of inspection within 6 months.
It is not only the topic of PSC as far as US is concerned. theThe US wants to do its own thing in Ballast water management, oil pollution prevention and any other subject it can get interested in.

In fact every US state wants to have its own procedures.

If you call at any Columbia River port you have to submit a complex set of forms both to the Washington state and Oregon. California has an entirely different set of paperwork.

All of this confuses and complicated issues when the needs to simplify and standardise procedures.

Regarding PSC inspections, those rich countries that don’t have much of their own fleet can afford to act tough on others.

The entire issue stems from US disdain for the UN and her agencies which is surprising because USA was the spearhead in the formation of the organisation.

Brace for abuse!

Uh yeah, well not really feeling that.

I believe my representation in the above posts of the original purpose of the Paris MOU group was accurate but since you bring it up again, this is from their webiste:

A short history of the Paris MoU on PSCThe Paris MoU on PSC is an administrative agreement between twenty-seven Maritime Authorities. In1978 the 'Hague Memorandum’ between a number of maritime authorities in
Western Europe was developed. It dealt mainly with enforcement of
shipboard living and working conditions as required by ILO Convention
no. 147.However just as the memorandum was about to come into
effect in March 1978 a massive oil spill occurred off the coast of
Brittany (France) as a result of the grounding of the VLCC ‘Amoco
Cadiz’.This incident caused a strong political and public outcry
in Europe for far more stringent regulations with regard to the safety
of shipping. This pressure resulted in a more comprehensive memorandum
which covered:safety of life at seaprevention of pollution by ships, andliving and working conditions on board shipsSubsequently
a new Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control was signed in
January 1982 by fourteen European countries at a Ministerial Conference
held in Paris, France. It entered into operation on 1 July 1982.Since
that date, the Paris Memorandum has been amended several times to
accommodate new safety and marine environment requirements stemming from
the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and requirements related
to working and living conditions of seafarers.The organization expanded to twenty-seven member States over the past years.

This sure sounds like an naturally formed and evolving LOCAL/REGIONAL group formed for a specific purpose, one which I can support in theory and practice. Good on ya if that helps avoid redundant inspections. Do you really think I’m arguing for that?

I just don’t follow your statement “US should be joining the Paris MOU”. You don’t give a reason, you don’t explain what problems are coming up because they are not a member and you don’t explain how this would solve the problem.

As I mentioned the US is a member of IMO and I assume an active one. In the world of ship management / operations I don’t see how being an IMO member, serving on committees helping to craft regulations can be construed as being isolated and “going their own way”.

Ah but now we see what you are really up to here.

So now it’s NOT the Paris MOU and PSC, you’re just very upset with the US period. Probably not going to be able to help you much with that

What does this even mean? US is the rich country? They “act tough” towards other flags. What’s “too” tough? Paris MOU PSC inspectors are just the right amount of tough and USCG PSC inspectors are too tough? Where do you come up with this stuff?

And this is your coup de gras? Thanks for that insight into American politics. But just what “entire issue” is stemming from your analysis of US attitude towards the UN? What are you trying to say? The state of the US merchant marine is somehow caused by YOUR perceptions of how ALL Americans feel about the UN?

I’ve re-read my posts and I can’t figure out how you’d classify them as abuse. What because I don’t think the US joining a group is a good idea (in other words I disagree with you) that’s abuse? But you making an assertion that the US disdains the “UN and her agencies” without support is what? Virtuous?

It feels like this discussion has run it’s course as far as actual points and facts go so I’ll just leave you with this thought. Just like all merchant seamen are not 3rd world villagers so too not all Americans have complete disdain for the UN especially the field work undertaken in their name.

Maybe instead of whining and regurgitating simplistic statements riddled with attribution error stop and consider…

It is a principle that shines on the just and unjust that once you have a point of view all history will back you up.
VanWyck Brooks

Too frequent inspections of ships trading between US ports and European ports. If you don’t know why joining would solve that problem then you don’t understand the topic very well.

If avoiding too frequent inspections was an overriding criteria why wouldn’t there just be one world-wide MOU? Why is the Caribbean one MOU and Mexico in another?

There must be some underlying logic to it or it wouldn’t happen. Not knowing the reason doesn’t mean that there isn’t a logical one.