In an exclusive interview to SAFETY4SEA, Kubota Hideo, Tokyo MOU Secretariat, observes that the pandemic has led to an increase in the detention rate and the regional detention rate, while the number of ship inspections has returned to pre-pandemic levels.
e also highlights that even though fire safety is the focus of this year’s Concentrated Inspection Campaign, operators must pay constant attention to this issue, as it is one of the most frequently detainable deficiencies.
SAFETY4SEA: What are the top priorities in your agenda for the next five years?
Kubota Hideo: Maintaining and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the PSC system in the region which includes a pilot project relating to PSC on fishing vessels.
S4S: What would be the biggest shipping challenge(s) in the years to come with respect to Port State Control operators from your perspective?
K.H.: To comply with the series of amendments, inter alia, of MARPOL Annex VI to attain the IMO goal for zero emissions of GHG by 2050.
S4S: Considering the PSC performance in the Tokyo MoU region during the last decade, are there any lessons to be learned and/or any alarming trends?? In your view, what needs to be further addressed from the stakeholders?
K.H.: In 2023, the number of inspections has been recovered to the level of that in 2019 (before the pandemic). An increase of detention rate is observed in 2023.The regional detention rate during January to August in 2023 is 4.62%, which is 1.3 point increase compared with that in 2019. Such trends are considered the after-effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
S4S: Given the improved PSC performance over the last 10-20 years, can we assume that the industry has been successful in implementing safety culture? What may be done further to improve the safety of operations onboard, in ports and in the shipping industry in general?
K.H.: In the Tokyo MOU region, in the past 10-20 years, the detention rate has a tendency to decline. In addition, the number of under-performing ships (a ship which is detained 3 or more times within 12 months in the region) is also on a decline trend. Both are evidence of the effectiveness of PSC inspections in the region (see charts below). Having said that, and taking into account the continuous increase of ISM deficiencies and detentions over the past few years, the industry is expected to take necessary measures to ensure that a proper and effective safety management system is established and maintained onboard their vessels, given that human factors are the leading cause of accidents.
Criteria: Ships detained 3 or more times during previous 12 months
Measures on under‐performing ships:
– List of under‐performing ships is published on the Tokyo MOU web‐site monthly
– Warning letters are issued to the flag State and ISM company of under‐performing ships
– Under‐performing ships would be inspected at each and every port call within the region.
S4S: Are you satisfied with industry stakeholders’ response on the issue of crew welfare until today? How should industry stakeholders work to improve life onboard and foster seafarers’ resilience?
K.H.: During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been several issues relating to crew, including the issue of the repatriations in accordance with the requirements of IMO/ILO instruments; however, recently the percentage of such deficiencies has been decreased.
S4S: How is Tokyo MoU facing the most challenging issues of digitization and decarbonization? Are there any related initiatives/ projects/ actions planned?
K.H.: Recognizing the importance of digitization and decarbonization, we are currently considering to incorporate them into the strategic plan, strategic direction and action plan of Tokyo MOU. Further discussion in the Tokyo MOU, following the progress in IMO, will be necessary to make what we should/can do clearer. Actually, there would be issues to be considered such as that, as a result of addition of newly emerging issues to the existing huge amount of regulations relating to safety, environment and living and working conditions , how PSCOs manage to carry out efficient and effective inspection within the limited time of PSC inspections without sufficient information available onboard.
S4S: If you could change one thing about the shipping industry, what would it be and why?
K.H.: To be well aware of the importance on the compliance with the requirements of IMO/ILO instruments and put the first priority on satisfying them.
S4S: What is your key message to industry stakeholders with respect to forthcoming CIC on Fire Safety?
K.H.: Fire Safety is one of the most frequently detainable deficiencies and it is paramount important for the safety of ships and crew to comply with the relevant requirements, not only for the CIC but also by continuously paying appropriate attention to this matter.
S4S: If you had to pinpoint one defining challenge for the Tokyo MoU over the next 10 years what would it be?
K.H.: Different from other MoUs such as the Paris MoU, the members of the Tokyo MOU consist of Authorities of advanced States and Authorities of developing States; hence our challenge is to harmonize the level of PSC inspections in the region. In this view, the Tokyo MOU puts importance on the technical cooperation activities.
S4S: How can industry stakeholders best collaborate in support of sustainable development?
K.H.: To further keep close communications with the Tokyo MOU and its members.
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.