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Panama acts after slipping 10 places in Paris MoU flag list

Paris MoU A pair of crossed white flags with the number 39 below them, grey flags with the number 18 below them and black flags with the number 9 below them.
The Panama Ship Registry is taking action after falling 10 places in Paris MoU’s list of flag states, dropping into the group’s grey list.

Paris MoU is a group of European nations plus Canada which maintain data on vessel inspections and rank flag states based on the ratio of detentions to inspections. The data underpinning the rankings is on a three- year rolling basis, with the latest list covering inspections and detentions from 2020-2022. The new list comes into force in July 2023.

Inclusion in the grey list denotes flags with an “acceptable levels of compliance with a low level of detention”, blow the white list of high compliance flags and above the black list of fleets with high levels of detention.

Panama vessels had 5,472 inspections over the three-year period with 366 detentions, placing it 46th on the overall list and firmly in the grey list which covers places 40-57. For the number of inspections, Panama would have needed 351 detentions to make the white list and 415 to drop to the black list. Panama is by far the largest flag state in the grey list.

Last year, Panama made the white list and was in 36th place overall.

The Panama Ship Registry said it has taken steps to improve its compliance and offered some explanation for its ranking drop. The legacy fleet operating within the Paris MoU region is a factor, it said, with 104 of its detained vessels over 30 years old.

“These vessels are being subjected to a special inspection regime, and if they do not improve, they will be removed from the register,” said Panama Ship Registry.

“A trend was detected of ships certified by Recognized Organizations with a high number of detentions or reported deficiencies and having valid technical certification on board, without prior notification to the Directorate General of Merchant Marine (Ship Registry). These companies have been audited, some suspended and revocation of their delegation of authority is not ruled out,” said the registry.

It also said that the pandemic lead to increased bankruptcies and vessel abandonments, and pointed the finger back at flag state inspectors, who in some cases carried out remote inspections “acting independently and without the authorization of the AMP’s Directorate General of Merchant Marine.”

The registry said it has taken action to boost its compliance standards, including rejecting vessels over 30 years of age, sanctioning and cancelling non-compliant vessels, sanctioning and cancelling flag state inspectors, and purging the register.