The Coast Guard report blamed the Marshall Islands
The ITF has welcomed the recent report of the US Coast Guard into the tragedy at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico last year, when 11 oil rig workers died in an explosion which led to the largest-ever accidental offshore oil spillage, polluting a wide area of the Gulf and the Mississippi coast of the USA. Transocean, the company operating the oil rig, had registered Deepwater Horizon in the flag of convenience (FOC) Marshall Islands.
The Coast Guard report blamed the Marshall Islands for not surveying the rig and abdicating its responsibilities by delegating inspections to other organisations.
David Heindel, chair of the ITF seafarers section, said that the Coast Guards report: Reinforces the ITF’s long-held position that so-called flag of convenience or runaway-flag vessels often facilitate and even encourage unsafe business practices.
many FOC operators have no regard for the mariners, their competency and other victims who suffer as a result of the runaway-flag system. Putting swift profits ahead of safety, runaway-flag entities also risk catastrophic environmental damage, like that which occurred last year when the rig exploded.
Applauding the Coast Guard’s focus on the flag states failure to ensure international minimum standards, he added that the ITF and other bodies saw such dangerous examples daily off the coast of Somalia, the Gulf of Oman and in the Indian Ocean: Pirates count on such poor conditions to raid and capture under-crewed, under-prepared vessels and crews, and poorly maintained vessels sailing under runaway flags
David Heindel commented that: The very same FOC system that arguably led to the Deepwater Horizon tragedy also is hampering international efforts to fight back against the modern version of at-sea terrorism.