International survey gives Coast Guard high marks in US ship inspections

Seafarers working at the sharp end of the industry are a vital source of knowledge for BIMCO in its work to protect and promote the interests of shipping. To create a conduit for this knowledge BIMCO has developed a unique ship reporting system. Feedback on various issues and practical problems comes directly from seafarers serving onboard a group of 220 ships selected from the fleets of some of BIMCO’s board members.

The first survey, focusing on assessing seafarers’ experience with ship inspections in the United States and internationally, has just been successfully completed.

The initiative for the survey was the 28 February 2008 Communication by the US Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen setting forth his expectations for US Coast Guard personnel in their dealings with the maritime industry. Quoting one of the United States’ founding fathers from 1790, Commandant Allen said “Earlier this year I charged the men and women of the Coast Guard to follow the guidance issued by Alexander Hamilton to ‘refrain, with the most guarded circumspection, from whatever has the semblance of haughtiness, rudeness, or insult.”

The survey compared each respondent’s latest US ship inspection with their most recent non-US ship inspection.

The results of the survey were very positive and indicated that although 30% of the respondents had experienced “unprofessional” or “disrespectful” inspections somewhere in the world within the last 24 months, 95% reported that the most recent inspection in the US had indeed been professional and respectful. 77% of the respondents who had visited the US since February 2008 had noted an improvement in the attitude of US Coast Guard personnel. Although some seafarers did not report an improvement the general feeling from those respondents was that they had “Never really had a bad experience with the USCG”.

On 6 October the results of the survey were presented to Commandant Thad Allen during a visit to BIMCO’s headquarters. “I was very pleased to receive this unsolicited feedback from a major representative of the maritime industry we regulate, serve and protect. Hamilton’s Charge, that free men are impatient of everything that bears the least mark of a domineering spirit, is as valid today as it was in 1790, and the results of this survey reflect positively on all of our marine inspectors and boarding team members and their commitment to professionalism.”

The results of the survey will be of great assistance to BIMCO in prioritizing future initiatives. It clearly indicates that while seafarers still experience problems with ship inspections, such problems are now rare in the United States. This information and the feedback from future surveys on a variety of practical issues and problems will help BIMCO to direct its resources more efficiently.

According to BIMCO CEO Torben Skaanild “It is essential for BIMCO to be fully in tune with its members and identify and respond to the challenges faced by ships in their daily activities worldwide. The BIMCO Ship Reporting System will spearhead our interaction with our member’s seafarers and provide us with an invaluable tool with which to better serve our industry and help resolve practical problems “.

BIMCO is the largest of the international shipping associations, with a membership drawn from a broad representation of stakeholders within the shipping industry, notably from the shipowning community, representing 640 million DWT or about 65% of merchant shipping. With a total membership of approximately 2,600 individual members from 123 countries, composed of shipowners, shipbrokers and agents and other entities with an interest in or associated with the Maritime Industries,

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