USCG Detains Chinese-Built Bulk Carrier on Maiden Voyage

Mike Schuler
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May 19, 2014

Photo (c) Eykel

The U.S. Coast Guard last week detained a 39,848 DWT Singapore-flagged bulk carrier in the Port of Portland after inspectors uncovered numerous safety violations aboard the newly-built ship.

The 579-foot MV Strategic Synergy, owned by SBC Synergy PTE. LTD., intended to load grain in Portland as part of its maiden voyage after completing construction on April 23, 2014 at Tianjin Xingang Shipbuilding Heavy Industry Co. in China.

According to a coast guard statement, Port State Control Officers from the Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit in Portland discovered the discrepancies during a routine inspection of the vessel. The discrepancies were related to the Strategic Synergy’s rescue boat, which failed to start after multiple attempts, the statement said. 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 vessel incapable of safely maneuvering.

“The combined risks posed by the safety discrepancies made the vessel substandard with respect to U.S. and international conventions,” said Lt. Ben Russell, chief of the Port State Control Branch at MSU Portland. “Each discrepancy impacts vessel, crew and port safety and collectively indicates that the vessel is unsafe to proceed to sea.”

Coast Guard inspectors were working with the Strategic Synergy’s flag state, crew, owner, and managing company to make repairs to the vessel prior to it loading cargo and departing for Ecuador as originally planned. AIS data from indicates that the vessel has since resumed its journey and is now underway.

“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 U.S. waters,” said Capt. Pat Ropp, commanding officer of MSU Portland. “For foreign vessels calling on U.S. Ports, the Coast Guard’s Port State Control oversight is the primary means of enforcing internationally recognized standards for safety of life at sea.”

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