American Flag Turns Gray – New Paris MOU Rankings Target US Ships

Gray American Flag

In an official statement the Paris MOU writes:

At its 42nd meeting last month, the Paris MoU Committee approved the 2008 inspection results and adopted new performance lists for flag States and Recognized Organizations. These lists will take effect from 1 July 2009.

The “Black List” for 2009 contains 21 flags States, two more than last year. The 2008 “White List” includes 41 flag States, three more than last year.

A “hard core” of flag States remain on the “Black List”. Most of the flags that were considered “very high risk” in 2007 have retained this ranking. The poorest performing flags are still Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Bolivia and Albania. New on the “Black List” are Libya, Moldova and Dominica.

The following is a visualization showing each flag state. The bubbles are sized by total number of port state detentions between the years 2006 and 2008 but do not take into account the total number of ships registered by each flag:

Paris MOU Targeting Lists FAQ

What is the Paris MOU?

It is clearly understood that the responsibility for ensuring that ships comply with the provisions of the relevant instruments rests upon the owners, masters and the flag States. Unfortunately, certain flag States, for various reasons, fail to fulfil their commitments contained in agreed international legal instruments and subsequently some ships are sailing the world’s seas in an unsafe condition, threatening the lives of all those on board as well as the marine environment. The Paris MOU on Port State control is a system of harmonized inspection procedures designed to target sub-standards ships with the main objective being their eventual elimination.

What does the Paris MOU do?

The Paris MOU on Port State Control is the official document in which the 27 participating Maritime Authorities agree to implement a harmonized system of Port State Control.

The MOU consists of a the main body in which the Authorities agree on

  • their commitments and the relevant international conventions
  • the inspection procedures and the investigation of operational procedures
  • the exchange of information
  • the structure of the organization and amendment procedures

Are any US ships currently being detained?

Yes, according to the Current Detention Database the US Flagged tugboat GALE FORCE, owned by EJ VENTURES, is being held in The Netherlands.

What do the different list colors mean?

Flags with an average performance are shown on the “Grey List”. Their appearance on this list may act as an incentive to improve and move to the “White List”. At the same time flags at the lower end of the “Grey List” should be careful not to neglect control over their ships and risk ending up on the “Black List” next year.¬†Lithuania, Turkey and Japan moved up from “Grey” to “White”. Iran and the United States moved down from “White” to “Grey”.

The “White List” represents quality flags with a consistently low detention record. Bermuda (UK), France, and the United Kingdom are placed highest in terms of performance.

What are the implications?

A flag’s ranking is taken into account when targeting ships for inspection and ships flying flags listed on the “Black list” are liable for banning from the region after multiple detentions.¬†A good ranking on the Paris MoU list is regarded as an industry standard and is used as an indicator of the quality of a state flag.