Friday, May 16, 2014

New Build Dry Bulk Freight Vessel Detained By US Coast Guard After Defects Found at Troubled Port

Maiden Voyage Suspended After Safety Concerns
Shipping News Feature

US – In a strong showing that it’s not just older vessels that get arrested for safety violations, the 3 week old 39,700 dwt bulk freight carrier Strategic Synergy was detained earlier this week by the US Coast Guard in Portland, Oregon, on her maiden voyage, after discrepancies were discovered during a routine inspection of the newly constructed Singapore-flagged vessel. The ship is to remain in Portland until the numerous safety violations are corrected by the ship’s crew.

The Strategic Synergy is owned by SBC Synergy and operated by MTM Ship Management. The vessel intended to load grain in Portland, before departing for Ecuador. This voyage to the United States was her first sailing after construction was completed in China on April 23, 2014. Ironically the Portland grain terminals are already the site for a long running dispute with longshoreman’s representatives which has caused delays and Coast Guard intervention in the past.

Several safety discrepancies related to the Strategic Synergy’s rescue boats, which failed to start after multiple attempts. The vessel’s crew also hadn’t completed any required scheduled inspections or maintenance on the rescue boat since the vessel’s departure from China. The vessel’s steering pump lost power and became inoperable during the Port State Control Officer’s operational test of its steering system, rendering the ship incapable of safely manoeuvring. Lt. Ben Russell, chief of the Port State Control Branch at MSU Portland said:

“The combined risks posed by the safety discrepancies made the vessel substandard with respect to US and international conventions. Each discrepancy impacts vessel, crew and port safety and collectively indicates that the vessel is unsafe to proceed to sea.”

The new ship was constructed by the Tianjin Xingang Shipbuilding Heavy Industry Co., which is scheduled to construct six more sister ships for SBC Synergy in the next ten months following the recent delivery of the first such vessel, the Strategic Alliance, and received her class specific certification from offshore classification specialists the Houston headquartered American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), and Coast Guard vessel inspectors are working with the Strategic Synergy’s flag state, vessel crew, owner, and managing company to make repairs to the vessel prior to it loading cargo and departing the port. It will remain at berth in Portland until the violations have been corrected. Capt. Pat Ropp, commanding officer of MSU Portland said:

“The purpose of the Coast Guard’s Port State Control program is to mitigate and remove safety and environmental hazards posed by foreign vessels from US waters. For foreign vessels calling on US Ports, the Coast Guard’s Port State Control oversight is the primary means of enforcing internationally recognised standards for safety of life at sea."

Photo: Portland US Coast Guard units in action. Courtesy of US Coast Guard.