The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) as administrator of the
Singapore Registry of Ships (SRS) has given shipowner Elmhirst Pte Ltd
three weeks with effect from 12 Oct 2000 to make good the defects found
on Neptune Dorado. The Singapore-flagged Neptune Dorado
was detained in San Francisco on 24 Sep 2000 by the US Coast Guard
(USCG) after port State inspections revealed safety deficiencies.
An investigation into the detention of the oil tanker (84,711 dwt)
is underway. This commenced immediately after MPA as flag State
administration received an official report from the USCG on 6 Oct 2000.
The report had cited four deficiencies which led to the vessels'
detention. They were two inoperative main fire pumps, a leaking
starboard boiler oil settling tank, inoperative main vent blowers for
the engine room, and leaking fuel oil lines to the main diesel engine.
MPA and the USCG have since been in contact on the matter.
Mr Lee Seng Kong, Director (Shipping), MPA, said, "This incident
raises concerns on the certifying authorities responsible for ensuring
the seaworthiness of the ship. As part of our probe, we have met the
classification societies Lloyd's Register (LR) and Det Norske Veritas
(DNV) and asked for their survey and audit reports. These reports would
assist us further in our investigation. We have also met the
shipmanager Hellenic Overseas Maritime Enterprises Pte Ltd and urged
the shipowner Elmhirst to take immediate steps to put the ship back in
a seaworthy condition."
The MPA's preliminary investigation revealed that the vessel was
surveyed by LR for ship safety, the last survey being carried out in
February 2000. Aside from the four major defects cited earlier, another
26 minor deficiencies were also recorded by the USCG. These included,
among others, an inoperative water pump for a generator, leaky pipes
and valves, and missing ship manuals. The defects uncovered point to
some lapses in maintenance and house keeping of the vessel. The MPA has
asked LR to investigate into its own survey processes, in particular,
at how such defects could have gone unnoticed at the Feb 2000 survey,
and for LR to attend to rectification of all outstanding deficiencies
for Neptune Dorado.
The Safety Management Certificate under the ISM Code was issued by
DNV on 14 Jun 1998, making the status of the SMC within the expected
'window period' for an Intermediate Audit, which is due between
mid-2000 and 2001. An additional audit was carried out by DNV after the
vessel's detention. It revealed two major non-conformities and six
minor deficiencies. The two major non-conformities were:
a) Failure to conduct regular internal safety audits to verify if
the safety and pollution prevention activities in compliance with the
safety management system (SMS), reviewing the SMS, and reporting its
deficiencies, if any, to the shore-based management
b) The vessel had been detained for statutory deficiencies
Likewise, the MPA has requested DNV
to conduct an intermediate audit immediately to clear all non-conformities.
Both classification societies and the shipmanager have been
instructed to submit the outcome of their survey and audit, and a
weekly progress report to MPA, respectively.
The incident has also brought into question the level of competency
of the shipboard personnel. As it is important for any ship personnel
to be trained to competently perform their professional technical
tasks, and also in implementing the safety management systems, MPA
would also be investigating this aspect.
Said Mr Lee, "The MPA remains committed to ensuring that its
shipping register is of quality and one that is of international
repute. In this end, we have adopted all international conventions,
codes and other instruments which cover ship construction and
equipment, the quality of seafarers and management standards,
protection of the marine environment, among other things. However, the
development of a safety culture is a continuous process which must
permeate the whole shipping industry. Such a culture requires ongoing
maintenance and evaluation of existing systems, and commitment in
carrying out respective obligations. We have to make sure that the
system of inspections and surveys on which the effectiveness of our
legislation depends works."
If the shipowners fail to make good the defects within three weeks,
MPA may de-register Neptune Dorado.
Also, if our findings show deficiencies on the part of the
classification societies involved, the MPA will take appropriate action
against them and inform the International Association of Classification
Societies (IACS) accordingly.