Asia-Pacific port state control regime detains most vessels, according to data

Port State Control and Tokyo MoU officers have a look inside a ship. Credit: Tokyo MoU

The three countries that detain the most vessels in their ports are signatories of the Tokyo Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), according to data from IHS Markit’s State of Maritime Security report.

The free report shows that between 2015-2019 China leads with 1,169 vessel detentions carried out in its ports by Port State Control inspectors, followed by Russia with 983 detentions, and finally Australia with 843 detentions. All three are part of the Tokyo PSC regime and signatories of the MoU, suggesting that the Tokyo MoU may have a harsher inspection regime than others.

It must be noted that Australia is also a signatory of the Indian Ocean MoU, though all PSC detentions were reported under Tokyo MoU. Russia too is a signatory of Paris and Black Sea MoU and depending on which port carried out the PSC the detainment will be registered under a different regime.

Overall the report shows that Tokyo MoU accounts for 31% of vessel detentions between 2015-2019, followed by Paris MoU at 30% of a total of 8,035 detention, and the US with 487, making up 6% of global detentions.

General cargo vessels make up the majority of vessels detained under the Tokyo MoU at 41%, followed by bulk carriers, making up 31% of the total vessels detained in the five-year period. This is reflected in IHS Markit data global numbers where general cargo make up 41% and bulk carriers 29% of all vessel types detained under all MoUs.

Targeting these vessel types comes as no surprise; IHS Markit data shows that between 2015-2019 general cargo vessels were involved in 1,675 casualty incidents (any incident to a vessel such as foundering, collision, contact, fire or explosion, where the vessel is later repaired and re-enters service), and bulk carriers 1,192, making up 38% of all casualties across vessel sectors in those five years.  For comparison, the tanker sector accounted for 11% of casualties between 2015-2019 and container ships 9%.

Bulk carriers have been involved in several high-profile incidents such as the sinking of the Stellar Daisy in 2017, which claimed the lives of 22 of its 24 crew members due to hull failure, or the grounding of the Stellar Banner off the coast of Brazil.

Considering the high number of incidents that bulk carriers and general cargo are involved with it is no wonder that they are more likely to be subjected to PSC inspections. Tokyo and Paris PSC regimes use ship risk calculators to determine if a vessel is likely to undergo a PSC inspection within a certain period of time; under this system bulkcarriers carry more weighting points, and so are weighted towards being placed in a high or standard ship risk profile to undergo PSC within the next three to eight months.

Moreover, both Tokyo and Paris MoUs followed the same concentrated inspection campaigns (CIC) from 2015-19. Only differing in 2016 where Paris focused its PSC inspections on the Maritime Labour Convention requirements, while Tokyo focused on cargo securing arrangements. The CIC initiative was also launched by Paris and Tokyo, another likely cause for higher number of detentions in their PSC regimes.