Thursday, September 25, 2014

Maritime Union Blasts Panama Authorities Over Deaths

Withheld Report Shames those Charged with Overseeing the Industry
Shipping News Feature

UK – PANAMA – WORLDWIDE – When the Panamanian flagged livestock carrier Danny F II rolled over and sank in the Mediterranean just eleven miles off the Lebanese coast in December 2009 costing the lives of forty four people and in excess of 28,000 animals whilst she had been en route to Syria from Uruguay, one might have expected a speedy investigation and explanation for the disaster. Certainly that was the attitude of maritime union Nautilus with two of those lost being members of the organisation.

This was a vessel detained in Adelaide just four years earlier because of serious faults and it is now over a year since the union asked, in no uncertain terms, just what had happened to the promised report, as we recorded at the time whilst telling the full story. Now, to the shame of the Panamanian authorities, and although a copy of the report was lodged with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) last year, it is still not possible to read it or download it via the Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS) database.

Nautilus points out that a year on from the successful introduction of the Maritime Labour Convention, as the ‘fourth pillar’ of regulating the shipping industry, it is more important than ever before that unfair competition based on the avoidance of international minimum standards is eradicated, in other words there is no place for flags of convenience which reduce safety standards to unacceptable levels.

Nautilus, which represents over 21,000 maritime professionals, says it strongly supports this year’s International Maritime Organisation World Maritime Day theme, the effective implementation of conventions, and muses that this year’s World Maritime Day presents a perfect opportunity for Panama – as the world’s largest flag state – to live up to its responsibilities by making public the results of its investigation into the loss of the livestock carrier in 2009 saying it continues to be deeply concerned by the Panamanian Maritime Authority’s failure to deliver on its promises to give copies of the report to relatives of the 44 seafarers who died on the ship.

The union says ‘it is shameful that there is such an absence of disclosure and transparency in such an important case. We believe Panama’s actions are not only against the spirit of accident investigation and seeking to learn lessons from losses, but are morally objectionable and in direct contravention of the IMO’s desire to see the effective implementation of its regulatory requirements – not least the SOLAS Convention responsibilities to submit maritime casualty reports to the IMO'.

Nautilus rightly points out that the lessons which might be learned from this horrific disaster matter to the shipping industry as a whole and reinforces the IMO’s own message for World Maritime Day which states that: ‘Debates, discussions and resolutions in committees and sub committees are all very well but it is how we apply what emerges from that process to the ships, ports and seafarers who operate daily at the “sharp end” of shipping that really matters'.