In October of last year, two Liberian oil tankers, the Pacific Glory and the Allegro, were in a collision off Britain's lsle of Wight.
In October of last year, two Liberian oil tankers, the Pacific Glory and the Allegro, were in a collision off Britain's lsle of Wight. The collision resulted in a fire and explosion on the Pacific Glory, which claimed the lives of 14 crew members. In a report published yesterday (20 April), the Liberian Government placed responsibility for the collision with the masters of both vessels. The report stated: "The fault in each case was the lack of a proper lookout." It added that "both vessels failed to use their radar...for the purpose of plotting the course of the other vessel." The master of each ship was reprimanded and fined. Their licences were suspended for one year on two year's probation. In addition the owners of both ships have been fined for those officers who did not hold required Liberian licences. Neither of the third officers on watch at the time of the collision was equipped with a Liberian "Certificate of Confidence", and the third officer on the Allegro held no certificate whatsoever, says the government report.
Liberia, one of the smallest countries in Africa,has the world's largest merchant fleet--on paper. The overall tonnage of the fleet exceeds 28 million gross register tons, made up of more than 1,750 vessels, mostly freighters and tankers. Few of these vessels ever call at a Liberian port, and only two freighters are actually owned by Liberians based in the port of Monrovia. This huge "paper fleet" dates back to a Liberian maritime law in 1948, which allows foreign shipowners to register their vessels in Liberia at low cost and with a minimum of formalities. Most vessels under the Liberian flag are owned by Americans and Greeks, but British, Norwegian, Japanese, West German, and other owners also take advantage of Liberia's favourable terms. The system, however, has also brought criticism from abroad, with critics maintaining that the Liberian "flag of convenience" is a cheap way of evading the stringent safety regulations and union-fixed wages of the United States, Britain, and other major shipping nations. Liberian officials dismiss the criticism as unjustified, saying that no vessel can be registered in liberia unless it has been classified by one of the five leading classification companies.