Effects of COVID-19 and technological vulnerabilities challenge marine inspectors – Homeland Security Today
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the ability of maritime inspectors to verify the safety of the national fleet last year and has increased the Coast Guard’s short-term reliance on remote inspection techniques, according to the monitoring annual flag state. report.
“The past year has presented unprecedented challenges on a global scale. No part of daily life or segment of the industry has been spared the direct impacts of COVID-19, including maritime commerce, ”said the U.S. Coast Guard Deputy Commander for Prevention Policy, the Rear Admiral Richard V. Timme in the report. “From increased consumer demand and supply shortages to reductions in passengers and complications of crew changes, it is more evident than ever that the shipping system is essential to the global economy.”
The U.S.-flagged fleet contained 19,398 vessels inspected last year, with Coast Guard marine inspectors performing 18,414 inspections. The precautions and effects of COVID-19 led to a 14% drop in the number of inspections from the previous year, while the number of deficiencies discovered also fell by 14%.
“To address the unique social distancing requirements and delays in vessel availability, the Coast Guard has used remote inspection techniques to perform certain inspections and audits, ensuring continued compliance with national and international regulations and conventions.” , said Timme. “While this approach has worked well to meet short-term demands, it has illustrated that there is no replacement for boots on deck. The Coast Guard will continue to explore ways to integrate remote inspection and verification techniques to increase the physical presence of highly trained Coast Guard marine inspectors.
Most of the deficiencies were found on tugs, followed by passenger ships, barges and freighters. Cargo ships had a higher deficiency rate given the size of the fleet, followed by passenger ships.
The average tug in the national fleet is 35 years old, freighters are on average 29 years old. Marine inspectors “are still examining steamboats and riveted steel hulls,” the report notes, in addition to “new technology, including ballast water and exhaust treatment systems to reduce the impact. environmental protection systems, computer control systems to improve safety and efficiency, and advanced liquefied natural gas (LNG), fuel cell and battery propulsion systems. marine inspectors, followed by the southeast coast.
“The shipping industry continues to expand its use of cyber technology to increase the efficiency and reliability of the shipping system. However, when cyber technologies create benefits, they also introduce new vulnerabilities and risks, ”said Timme. “The interconnected nature of the maritime transportation system provides vectors for the operation, misuse, disruption or failure of cyber systems that can lead to subsequent injury or death, damage to the marine environment, or disruption of vital trade. . Ship owners and operators should thoroughly review their cybersystems to identify potential threats and weaknesses and take action to strengthen security measures. “
There were 1,644 reportable marine accidents – including one collision, loss of power or loss of life – reported in 2020 involving 1,956 vessels inspected. Cargo ships most commonly reported hardware failure or malfunction, personal injury or death, or loss or reduction in the direction of propulsion of the ship. Barges and tugs most often suffered from collision, alloy or grounding, while passenger ships most often reported material failure or malfunction followed by injury or death and collision, alloy or stranding.
Last year, 63 flag state arrests were made for vessels in severely substandard conditions, including 43 tugs and 13 passenger vessels. In percentage terms, freighters led flag state detentions with 0.88% of their fleet. The conditions that justified the detention included fire safety, structural conditions, propulsion and auxiliary machinery, working and living conditions and emergency systems.
In 2020, flag state control officers attended 25 Document of Compliance (DOC) audits, according to the report, adding that the Coast Guard revoked two DOCs based on recommendations from recognized organizations with the authority to issue international certificates on behalf of the United States or other third parties. -party organizations.
The 2019 annual report of the Paris MOU published on August 6 raised the performance of the US flag fleet from the “gray list” to the “white list”, which represents quality flags with a record of detention still low, notes the report.
There are 75 U.S.-flagged ships in the Maritime Administration’s maritime security program to provide strategic maritime lift capability to the Department of Defense as required. Last year, three ships changed flags in the US fleet as part of the Maritime Safety Program.
Last year, the Coast Guard launched the National Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Communication Plan “to promote a variety of awareness mechanisms and information sharing instruments between the Coast Guard and the fishing industry. fishing, ”including dockside marching, newsletters, social media and official correspondence – recording over 378,000 interactions from 2,492 USCG personnel, including civilians, serving military members active, reservists and auxiliary personnel during the first six months of the program.
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