Vessels registered to the Cook Islands, Palau targeted in shipping crackdown

Photo: Girik Institute of Maritime Studies

Up to 1,000 ships flagged to the Cook Islands, Palau, Sierra Leone, and Togo will be targeted for safety, maintenance and seafarer welfare inspections across the Mediterranean Sea in the coming eight weeks by an army of inspectors from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), seafarers’ unions and port authorities. 

“Substandard shipping in the Mediterranean Sea is driving down seafarers’ wages and conditions, it’s endangering the lives of crew and risking our environment,” said ITF inspectorate coordinator Steve Trowsdale. 

“These flags take money from shipowners to register ships that other countries wouldn’t touch. Many are old vessels and are poorly maintained by their owners. Many of these ships are dangerous and should not be trading,” he said. 

The blitz comes off the back of new analysis showing the four flags of convenience registries together accounted for more than 100 crew abandoned in the last two years, with millions of dollars’ wages not paid to crew by the flags’ shipowners that the ITF then had to recover on seafarers’ behalf. 

The ITF inspectors’ efforts will be bolstered in France by the country’s Port State Control agencies, which are organised regionally.