PSC of Ukraine: provide safety or money into the pocket? (Mtelegraph/Морская правда)

This year, Port State Control inspectors have detained 57 vessels in Ukraine. This is five times more than it was in 2016. The State Service of Ukraine for Transport Safety explained this dynamics by their recent control, the high quality of work of inspectors and cheap ships. However, the agency companies do not agree: corruption is to blame.

There was detained a bulk carrier I Maria at the Risoil terminal in the Black Sea port. The reason was the branch pipe, where was a small hole, told the The Maritime Telegraph Shota Khadzhishvili, the head of the group of companies RISOIL S.A. “They wrote a note of the act of the form “30”, but there have to be such strong reasons as serious technical malfunctions. That thing amounts to a verbal warning, since the branch pipe is not an operating mechanism, but a pipe with a small slit,” explained Shota Khadzhishvili. According to him, later, the bulk carrier was detained for five days, and the shipowner lost 50 thousand dollars. “Inspectors made a conclusion “30” to a tanker CAMINERO as well under the agency of the company NOVIK for the lack of a certificate for air conditioning. Tariel Khadzhishvili, the director of the transport-forwarding company NOVIK informed The Maritime Telegraph about it. “Demurrage was around $ 5,000,” he said. Another ship under the agency of his company was blocked by PSC for eleven days due to smudges of oils in the engine room. According to him, 55 thousand dollars of real losses incurred by the shipowner.

Real blackmail or speculation of the victims?

Inspectors began to detain vessels for minor reasons, believes Tariel Khadzhishvili, the director of the transport-forwarding company NOVIK. “My company has had only ten vessels detained since 1999. Each case was very significant. For example, the loss of the anchor or the statement of the captain about problems with the main engine propeller. Now there are the mass detentions for far-fetched reasons,” told he to The Maritime Telegraph.

According to him, the active “work” of Port State Control is connected with a new corruption scheme. Since the head of inspectors became the State Service of Ukraine for Transport Safety, an order No. 433 from the Ministry of Infrastructure was issued. It is a good base to make money on shipowners. This is confirmed by Tariel Khadzhishvili: “Earlier, the service of sealing the valves was provided by the service of the captain of the port. And this order shifted the responsibility to the crew. But there is no mention that anyone, except the crew, can hang seals. Some man began to offer to sign a contract for sealing service with Poseidon Engineering.

According to this messenger, the agents who have agreed will be able to negotiate with the PSC.” Tariel Khadzhishvili’s company refused. “Our vessels started to be detained one after another,” he shared with The Maritime Telegraph, “but due to the fact that the amount of the contract with Poseidon Engineering is not large (from $ 150 to $ 350), many other companies decided that it would be more profitable to pay this money from each vessel in order to avoid problems with the inspectors.”

Poseidon Engineering answered The Maritime Telegraph, that nobody is forced to sign a contract; this is only a speculation of the opponents. “We offer. Any kind of business is an offer,” the company said. And Dmitry Petrenko, the deputy head of State Service of Ukraine for Transport Safety told The Maritime Telegraph that their civil service is not relevant to a commercial company, and such information is a provocation for the economy on ships. “If there is confirmed information about extortion, we will help to arrest these people. But we do not have the right to close our eyes to violations on ships. The code “30” is a preventive measure for the safety of the crew itself. But they want a cheap freight and that nobody interfere them”, explained Petrenko. In case of detention, he advised immediately to apply to the repair team, and report the State Service of Ukraine for Transport Safety about doubts in the work of the PSC. Regarding the new sealing order, the deputy head of the State Service of Ukraine for Transport Safety explained that their service did not issue it. Clarifications in the order he called a legal collision.

Also the representative of one of the shipping company shared his opinion: “I am not familiar at all with the process of sealing valves in Ukraine nor have we ever experienced any such issues, however in other countries it can often be delegated to private companies. Again in other countries PSC cannot impose specific companies to perform tasks as this would indicate some kind of collusion. If in doubt of PSC activities the ship owner should refer to their own flag state for advice. Flag state usually has higher level contacts within the local MOU, in this case the Black Sea MOU. If the ship is detained beyond the time she is read for departure then the only choice the owner has is to remedy the alleged defect. Of course some may take the easy way and offer the inspector some kind of incentive. Delays are just part of the technique used to put more pressure on owners, thereby creating a situation where payment is the only viable option. There are many other examples from other countries but usually the demand is more obvious and forthright than in Ukraine. It is up to each owner to refuse or negotiate depending upon their policies and values.” However, a lawyer Boris Babin notes that “the time for trial is also the time for which the shipowner will pay.” In his opinion, this is the main problem. “No one in the port is interested in the fact that the PSC wants a bribe, so they do not let you out. Shipowners think about their expenses. They will not complain to anyone. The PSC inspectors know it very well and make money off it,” told he to The Maritime Telegraph.

Ukraine is West Africa in the center of Europe

“Detention for the detention” is practiced in West Africa, according to Capt. Igor Chumak. “They can easily come and name a specific amount of money. On the scale of shipping – it’s trivia: some 300-400 dollars, so as not to detain the ship. The shipowner usually decides that it is easier to give this money; otherwise the loss will be ten times more. Unfortunately, Ukraine is West Africa in the center of Europe,” explained Igor Chumak to The Maritime Telegraph.

The work of PSC differs from country to country, said Seaman Yegor Kolev to The Maritime Telegraph: “The poor countries they can grab some meat, coffee, beer, whiskey, cigarettes or whatever else they need. They do not check anything and leave. “Although, for example, in the Netherlands, there is another level of checks, but they used to detain ships purposefully too. It was told by Capt. Alexander Bereza: “They were given bonuses for this. It is not practiced today, as shipowners have revolted, that vessels were detained because of silly reasons “. Also Igor Chumak dissatisfied with the work of Chinese inspectors. “They have a setup – something must be found. They write comments for little things that can be eliminated before their eyes. So they show that they work. It reminds the CPCR,” summarized he.

But the inspectors in Brazil, Argentina, France, the captain calls colleagues. “They come in a friendly way.

Everything happens with a smile,” specified Chumak. He liked to cooperate with the Spanish PSC service most of all. “They are very cultured. They come and talk with the captain. Tell us what their program is, what they want to check. Perfectly understand, if, for example, there is a cargo operation, then something cannot be done,otherwise they will stop it,” noted the captain.

International standards and conditions are to solve the problem

In order Ukrainian inspectors work like Spanish or at least, as French, a lawyer Boris Babin assures that there are a few things that need to be changed. First, to create a National Maritime Administration. “In any civilized country there is a body of control over the PSC service.

We also have the Administration of Seaports of Ukraine, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the State Service of Ukraine for Transport Safety, that is responsible for heavy trucks, railway cars, bus stops and so on. There are no specialists there,” explained Boris Babin to The Maritime Telegraph. Secondly, to guide not only by local, but also international documents, to sign the Paris Memorandum of Understanding. “Ukraine is the only country in Europe that is not a member of the Paris Memorandum. It gives the ban to detain vessel for no special reason. There are certain lists: white, gray, black. The PSC service cannot come on board of a ship that is on the white list of the Paris Memorandum. The white list is for those that do not allow violations; they cannot be inspected without serious reasons,” detailed the lawyer. Thirdly, to change the leadership and introduce requirements for the inspectors. “There are standards for PSC all over the world such as the certification procedure, the presence of specialized maritime education, length of service, language skills. Our PSC inspector is a person who can motivate the leadership maximally to be appointed to this position,” concretized Boris Babin. Also, the lawyer added that it isn’t enough for vessels to meet the standards and requirements of maritime law in the Ukrainian ports. “In our conditions, there is only one option, so that the ship is not detained is to pay a bribe. No one is interested in the safety of navigation – everyone is interested in establishing a cash flow,” summed up Boris Babin for The Maritime Telegraph.

The deputy head of The State Service of Ukraine for Transport Safety, Dmitry Petrenko says that the Ukrainian inspectors should have salaries, like the Spanish PSC service has. “The inspectors in Spain earn at least three thousand euros, when we have six or seven thousand hryvnias. This is the main obstacle for good specialists.

No captain or chief engineer will go to work as an inspector,” told Dmitriy Petrenko. According to him, the State Service of Ukraine for Transport Safety controls the activities of the PSC: it tracks warnings to ships in the electronic system of a memorandum, photographs, sends representatives of the port’s capital services to check. In addition, now there is a plan of the corresponding pilot project.

“We have 60 cameras that will constantly shoot as an inspector go on board a ship and communicates with the captain,” shared Petrenko. He is confident that it will reduce corruption risks. He also promised that Ukraine would sign the Paris memorandum. However, he mentioned that the Black Sea memorandum is very important now, since it helps to control maritime relations with Russia.

“Our Ukrainian ships are detained in Russia. They are stricter about our vessels. In the zone of the Black Sea Memorandum, we can take adequate actions, since we have a common list,” detailed the deputy head of the State Service of Ukraine for Transport Safety.

While shipowners lose their money, the country’s economy suffers. Tariel Khadzhishvili, director of the NOVIK company is assured: “When a shipowner sees that the ship is chartered in Ukraine, he tries to raise the freight rate in order to recoup the risks. This forms the level of prices for grains and various goods. This affects the level of exports in our country. People raise the prices for their services, because they are in Ukraine “, Tariel Khadzhishvili summed up for The Maritime Telegraph “. To avoid losses, the deputy head of the State Service of Ukraine for Transport Safety advises the shipowners to check carefully which vessel is chartered, the availability of documents on board. “There are very many cases when a vessel gets register documents for two years. Thus, the register for some reason understands that the ship’s condition is not very good and wants to see it in two years”, explained Dmitry Petrov to The Maritime Telegraph. He also stressed the importance of taking ships from the first register: “That ship that has a third or even a second register may be uncontrolled; its engine may fail or cargo damage. The competence of the crew on such vessels is lower, since the requirements are lower. “In addition, the deputy head of the State Service of Ukraine for Transport Safety advised to stimulate the renewal of the fleet.

Forewarned is forearmed: some advice for shipowners

Based on the collected information, The Maritime Telegraph outlined a number of basic rules, compliance of which will help the shipowner to pass PSC in Ukraine safely:

1) Thoroughly consider which ship is chartered.

2) Check whether the documents of the vessel are valid.

3) To question if the vessel has register documents operating for less than three years.

4) Choose vessels of first class register. Do not “chase” for cheapness.

5) Stimulate fleet renewal.

6) If the ship is detained, call the repair team immediately.

7) If the ship gets a violation of code 30, refer to the register for the output.

8) In case of doubt in the actions of the inspector, refer to the flag State.

9) If the inspector refuses to come back for a second check, contact the representatives of the State Service of Ukraine for Transport Safety.

10) In case of extortion by inspectors, make this fact public through social networks, the media and appeal to law enforcement agencies.

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