Industry sources have indicated that port state control (PSC) is now being physically implemented within the ports of the UAE. Inspections are already under way and reports of non-compliance are being submitted to interested parties.

This unilateral step within the Gulf is being welcomed by the local maritime industry as a brave move by the UAE, which will set a clear example to all other administrations within the area, who have been slow to even plan the implementation of port state control despite discussions last February on a memorandum of understanding on PSC between several Gulf states.

Capt. Mohammed Alaa Farag, marine affairs consultant to the Ministry of Communications, confirmed that the initial process is underway, but would necessarily take several months to complete.

He said it must be done properly and emphasised the need to ensure that ships entering and leaving UAE waters were fully compliant with international standards of safety and environmental control.

To this end, the UAE government was keeping its pledge, made last February, when it was announced that the UAE would enforce PSC by the end of the year. That announcement followed several marine incidents in UAE waters.

They included the sinking of a 42-year old Honduras-flagged tanker, Al Jaziya 1, off the coast of Abu Dhabi on January 24, which released several hundred tonnes of fuel oil into the sea. Three weeks later, on February 10, a Belize-registered offshore supply vessel, Ghareb, sank in the Umm Dalkh oilfield, killing the chief officer.

The introduction of PSC will certainly help to police “maverick” operators who generally flag their vessels with less than reputable flags of convenience and are often not classed or are affiliated to non-IACS organisations of dubious standards.

PSC is a “safety net” to be utilised as an additional assurance that standards are maintained to protect our seafarers and our environment.



From today (8 September), ballast water management will form part of port state control inspections but samples will not be routinely taken, the secretary general of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Port State Control, Richard Schiferli, told BWTT yesterday.

His organisation has prepared guidelines for inspections, but he does not anticipate that inspectors will focus on equipment or sampling “unless there are clear grounds to do so,” he said. Asked whether the MoU was planning to mount a concentrated inspection campaign (CIC) of the sort it is currently conducting into navigational safety, he said there were no plans for a ballast-treatment CIC in the near future “taking into account the developments at IMO.”

But he added: “After the first six months we should have a better picture of the implementation of the BWM Convention.”

The MoU’s guidelines are “in line with the IMO guidelines,” he said, which were issued as Resolution MEPC.252(67) in 2014. They set out a four-stage inspection process that, in summary, consists of:

  • An initial inspection, focusing on documentation and ensuring that an officer has been nominated for ballast water management on board the ship and to be responsible for the BWMS, and that the officer has been trained and knows how to operate it.
  • A more detailed inspection, when the operation of the BWMS is checked and the PSC officer clarifies whether the BWMS has been operated adequately according to the ballast water management plan.
  • A third stage, during which sampling is envisaged to occur to identify whether the ship is meeting the ballast water management performance standard described in regulation D-2.
  • A fourth stage, if necessary, incorporates detailed analysis to verify compliance with the D-2 standardSource:


This contains the latest information from OCIMF for inspectors and supersedes guidance to inspectors as issued in bulletin #7 on 6 April 2020.

To further support SIRE, BIRE and OVID programme users and other industry stakeholders during the COVID-19 pandemic OCIMF has:

  • Increased the availability of all OCIMF Programme reports from 12 months to 18 months to allow programme recipients a more extensive choice of available screening information.
  • Set up a Task Force to investigate alternative inspection strategies and methods in the short and mid-term to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the inspection programmes and its users, including vessel crew/operators and inspectors.
  • Issued inspection guidance during the global COVID-19 pandemic to vessel operators, inspectors, Member/Submitting Companies, and Programme Recipients.
  • Suspended all training and accreditation activities, including audited and accompanied inspections.
  • Issued a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document for the guidance of inspectors. The health and safety of all those involved in the inspection process is of utmost importance to OCIMF.

Inspectors are central to the process, and therefore, in response to feedback, OCIMF offers the following reminders and direction.

Inspection commissioning

OCIMF does not arrange Inspections or have any involvement in the commissioning activities of Submitting Companies.

The decision to commission a Programme Inspection lies with a Submitting Company in agreement with the vessel operator.

The Submitting Company and Inspector should discuss potential safety, travel and accommodation arrangements, while an inspector is contracted to conduct an inspection.

Where an Inspector feels that they do not have enough safety, travel or inspection guidance, through standing instructions or the inspection booking process, they should engage with the Submitting Company and resolve their concerns before travelling.

Travel, accommodation, and rest

Inspectors should follow the instructions and guidance provided by the Submitting Company and their sub-contracted inspection company, relating to travel and accommodation booking for the period while they are contracted to inspect on behalf of the Submitting Company.

Inspector must comply with all national, regional, and local authority travel restrictions.

It is recommended that when organising travel and accommodation, the following points are considered:

  • Travel restrictions can change rapidly during the current crisis, and an Inspector may be prevented from travelling to undertake an inspection or, prevented from travelling home upon completion of the inspection. Where the latter is a possibility, it is recommended that the Inspector engages with the Submitting Company to develop a contingency plan before travelling to the inspection.
  • Distant travel should not be booked for overnight trips if suitable safe accommodation cannot be booked and confirmed in advance to ensure adequate rest for safe journey management.
  • Driving long distances to and from inspections is undesirable as fuel/food/rest stops will inevitably increase exposure to COVID-19 for inspectors and the potential for passing this on to ship’s staff and the inspectors’ families.
  • An Inspector is responsible for ensuring that they are adequately rested and fit to drive when they drive in connection with a Programme Inspection.
  • Sleeping on board a vessel which is in the process of being inspected or, when an inspection has been completed, is discouraged unless it is impossible to leave the vessel.
  •  An Inspector should leave a vessel as soon as an inspection has been completed. Communication with the vessel and vessel operator.
  • An Inspector should not communicate with the vessel or vessel operator, apart from in the following circumstances:
  • To provide personal details to permit access to the terminal or facility where the inspection is scheduled to take place.
  • To respond to a health questionnaire or declaration related to COVID-19 exposure.
  • To update the vessel on logistical details of arrival onboard. All necessary communications with the vessel or vessel operator after completion of an inspection, including reports of potential exposure to COVID-19, must be directed through the Submitting Company.

Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and social distancing

See the World Health Organisation for guidance: WHO Rational use of personal protective equipment for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Interim guidance 27 February 2020.

Inspectors should:

  • Comply with all applicable law.
  • Take proper and adequate measures to protect themselves from COVID-19 infection while travelling to and from an inspection.
  • Comply with the PPE requirements of the Submitting Company while inspecting on their behalf.
  • Comply with the PPE requirements of the vessel while onboard, providing it is safe to do so.
  • Terminate an inspection if it is not safe to continue while complying with the PPE requirements of the vessel or its operator.
  • Comply with the PPE requirements of a terminal or facility while transiting to or from the vessel, provided it is safe to do so.
  • Terminate an inspection if potential exposure to COVID-19 or any unknown illness onboard exists.
  • Comply with social distancing measures as far as possible.
  • Avoid personal contact as far as possible.
  • Maintain a high standard of personal hygiene at all stages of an inspection.
  • Discard any disposable PPE after leaving a vessel and before continuing travel.
  • Ensure that bags, personal effects, and normal PPE is properly washed and/or sanitized before each inspection.
  • Not wear the same clothing for consecutive inspections or carry previously worn clothing or PPE aboard another vessel to be inspected unless it has been washed and/or sanitized.

It is recommended that inspectors carry:

  • At least one spare set of COVID-19 PPE which includes a disposable suit, face mask and gloves, as a precaution to avoid the possibility that they will not be permitted to transit through a terminal or facility.
  • An alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Reporting of exposure to COVID-19

Inspectors should:

  • Follow all national, regional, and local reporting requirements for COVID-19 exposure or infection.
  • Follow the local and national directives regarding self-isolation, where applicable.
  • Notify the Submitting Company of any COVID-19 exposure or infection in accordance with instructions issued by the Submitting Company for a period from 14 days before an inspection and, COVID-19 infection only, for 14 days after an inspection.
  • Notify OCIMF if they are positively diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days of completing any OCIMF Programme Inspection.
  • Cease all inspection activity upon a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 until such time that they are permitted to return to work by national, regional or local government regulations in force in their home location and the location of any intended future inspections.
  • Cease all inspection activity after contact with a person with suspected COVID-19 until either, 14 days has elapsed since the contact or, a COVID-19 test confirms that infection has not taken place.
  • Notify OCIMF if they are exposed to an individual with suspected COVID-19 symptoms during a programme inspection.
  • Make any notification concerning exposure to, or diagnosis of, a COVID-19 infection to the national, regional, and local authorities where they live and to jurisdictions where they have transited, travelled, or carried out inspections.Source:


On 14 May 2020 the US issued a Global Maritime Advisory (“Guidance”) aimed at a range of industry sectors including marine insurers such as P&I clubs and shipowners and charterers. A copy of the Guidance can be found below.

Guidance to Address Illicit Shipping and Sanctions Evasion Practices

The Guidance updates and expands earlier advisories concerning Syria and North Korea (“the DPRK”). The Guidance provides detail on the level of due diligence and other compliance related activities expected by the US Government of parties whose business activities run a risk of engaging in trades that may breach US sanctions. it applies specifically to the sanctions’ regimes surrounding Iran, Syria and the DPRK and provides information relevant to both US and non-US companies.

The Guidance covers the following sectors of the maritime industry:

  • Marine Insurance
  • Flag Registry Managers
  • Port State Control Authorities
  • Shipping Industry Associations
  • Commodity Traders, Suppliers and Brokers
  • Financial Institutions
  • Shipowners, Operators and Charterers
  • Classification Societies
  • Vessel Captains
  • Crewing Companies

The significance of the document lies in the fact that it represents an attempt by the US Government to set out the standards by which the marine industries will be judged if they are linked to sanctions breaking. In the past the US has been critical of the role played by the maritime industries in providing goods and services to countries that are the subject of sanctions. In several well publicised actions it has acted against companies where it considered that compliance practices have been inadequate or deliberate sanctions breaking was involved. The impact of such measures can have profound implications for a company and in extreme circumstances can prevent it from continuing to do business.

To the extent that the Guidance clarifies US expectations of what it considers to be good compliance practice in the maritime industry it should be welcomed. Equally it is important to recognise that the sectors of the maritime industry targeted by the Guidance are often subject to complex domestic and international regulation that may impose conflicting requirements on a party. The resolution of such conflicts in areas such as competition law, data protection laws and international conventions such as The International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (“SOLAS”) are not addressed by the Guidance. The Guidance may also give rise to difficulties associated with the termination of legally binding commitments based on a suspicion of unlawful activity. By way of example, caution should be exercised before a shipowner or club voluntarily discloses information to third party institutions or organisations, private or public, unless directed to do so by a proper authority in the jurisdiction in which business interests are regulated. For a club based in the UK, for example, the club’s regulator or sanctions enforcement agency may direct it to disclose information that it holds on an entered vessel according to the rules stipulated by the club’s supervisory body, other proper authority or sanctions enforcement agency. A club voluntarily reporting to commercial databases. for example, may lead to a breach of relevant data protection or competition law.

Of particular note is the focus on the use – or misuse – of a vessel’s AIS equipment. All those engaged in the maritime industry can now be in no doubt as to the importance of monitoring such transmissions for abnormal or suspicious activity including switching off the equipment in circumstances not permitted by SOLAS. All clubs in the International Group now monitor the AIS transmissions of all entered vessels in High risk Areas and have recently issued a circular dedicated to AIS and vessel monitoring, see P&I Circular 2658/2020, published 15 May 2020.

The Guidance sets out the US Government’s expectation that shipowners will be well placed to assess and make sense of the AIS history of ships operated or owned by counterparties. It suggests the continuous monitoring of ships, “including ships leased to third parties, and ensure that the AIS is continuously operated consistent with SOLAS and not manipulated. Parties could also consider using LRIT in addition to AIS and receiving LRIT signals every 3 hours”. Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) is a closed system available to and for use by Flag States. Data available from LRIT is generally not available to private parties and for this reason alone compliance with the Guidance will be problematic.

The Guidance further suggests that counterparties should assess the AIS history of all new clients and “refuse to conduct business with vessels that have a history of AIS manipulation not consistent with SOLAS.” Together, these requirements may place Members in an onerous position. Ships’ AIS transmission is often lost in high density areas or where satellites fail to receive positioning data when it is in transit or in port. Members are therefore advised to obtain independent advice and/or consult a reputable AIS monitoring service provider before disengaging from existing contracts or declining new ventures.

The Guidance also places heavy emphasis on the need to perform proper know your customer (KYC) and know your customer’s customer (KYCC) procedures. The way in which many commodities are traded renders this a complex area which will be a concern to many of those involved.

As mentioned above the consequences of not complying with US primary and secondary sanctions legislation can be severe. To the extent that the US has sought to provide guidance to the maritime industries as to the standard against which those industries will be judged, it should be welcomed. However, many will find some of the requirements difficult to comply with for both practical reasons and because in certain circumstances it runs contrary to existing legal obligations.

All International Group Clubs are committed to monitoring vessels in high risk areas and minimising risk for their Members and have issued a similarly worded circular.



Outstanding Port State Control (PSC) performance is the ambition of every ship operator and owner. Faced with travel restrictions and the risk of infection, PSC activities have been reduced in certain ports, but we expect operations to soon return to normal. The key to successfully reducing the number of deficiencies during a PSC inspection, and to avoiding detention, is regular maintenance on board and a more detailed focus on the most frequent detainable deficiencies.

DNV GL has investigated the main detainable deficiencies for 2019, and this webinar puts the focus on these findings, which are also now incorporated in the updated PSC Planner tool.

The webinar agenda covers:

  • Current PSC situation due to COVID-19
  • Outlook CIC
  • Main detainable deficiencies 2019 and how to improve
  • Update on PSC Planner
  • Q&A

Register now for 4 June 2020:

04.00 – 05:00 p.m. CEST (Central European Summer Time)
(Fully booked: 09:00 – 10:00 a.m. CEST)

Sign up now >>

Your presenters are Claudia Ohlmeier, Group Leader Port State Control as well as Jens Plötz, Senior Engineer, both from DNV GL – Maritime.

All registrants will receive the access link to the webinar recording and slide deck afterwards.



The Trump Administration continues to focus upon countries that register merchant vessels where those vessels transport products to/from the Republic of Cuba and Venezuela. The governments of Panama, which has the largest registration of vessels, and Liberia, with the second-largest registration of vessels, have been particular targets. Reportedly, the tenor of some of the conversations initiated by officials of the Trump Administration have been less then courteous.

From Wikipedia: Flag of convenience (FOC) “is a business practice whereby a ship’s owners register a merchant ship in a ship register of a country other than that of the ship’s owners, and the ship flies the civil ensign of that country, called the flag state.  The term is often used pejoratively, and the practice is regarded as contentious.  Each merchant ship is required by international law to be registered in a registry created by a country, and a ship is subject to the laws of that country, which are used also if the ship is involved in a case under admiralty law.  A ship’s owners may elect to register a ship in a foreign country which enables it to avoid the regulations of the owners’ country which may, for example, have stricter safety standards.  They may also select a jurisdiction to reduce operating costs, bypassing laws that protect the wages and working conditions of mariners.  The term “flag of convenience” has been used since the 1950s. A registry which does not have a nationality or residency requirement for ship registration is often described as an open registry.  Panama, for example, offers the advantages of easier registration (often online) and the ability to employ cheaper foreign labour. Furthermore, the foreign owners pay no income taxes.”

London, United Kingdom

Excerpts For Background: “Most merchant ships flying Panama’s flag belong to foreign owners wishing to avoid the stricter marine regulations imposed by their own countries.  Panama operates what is known as an open registry.  Its flag offers the advantages of easier registration (often online) and the ability to employ cheaper foreign labour.  Furthermore the foreign owners pay no income taxes.  Under international law, every merchant ship must be registered with a country, known as its flag state.  That country has jurisdiction over the vessel and is responsible for inspecting that it is safe to sail and to check on the crew’s working conditions.  Open registries, sometimes referred to pejoratively as flags of convenience, have been contentious from the start.  Panama now has the largest registry in the world.  The registry is lucrative for Panama, bringing in [more than] half a billion dollars for the economy in fees, services and taxes.  However, critics of the system point to the ease of hiding the true identity of shipowners and the lax enforcement of rules and regulations.”

The Hague, The Netherlands-based Secretariat Paris Memorandum of Understanding On Port State Control: “The organization consists of 27 participating maritime Administrations and covers the waters of the European coastal States and the North Atlantic basin from North America to Europe.  The current member States of the Paris MoU are: Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Russian Federation, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.  Mission is to eliminate the operation of sub-standard ships through a harmonized system of port State control.  Annually more than 17.000 inspections take place on board foreign ships in the Paris MoU ports, ensuring that these ships meet international safety, security and environmental standards, and that crew members have adequate living and working conditions.  Basic principle is that the prime responsibility for compliance with the requirements laid down in the international maritime conventions lies with the shipowner/operator. Responsibility for ensuring such compliance remains with the flag State.”

Flag Of Convenience (FOC) Countries

“The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is a democratic, affiliate-led federation recognised as the world’s leading transport authority. We fight passionately to improve working lives, connecting trade unions from 150 countries that may otherwise be isolated and helping their members to secure rights, equality and justice. We are the voice for nearly 20 million working men and women across the world.  Our headquarters is located in London with offices in Amman, Brussels, Nairobi, New Delhi, Ouagadougou, Rio de Janeiro, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo.”

“The following countries have been declared FOCs by the ITF’s fair practices committee (a joint committee of ITF seafarers’ and dockers’ unions), which runs the ITF campaign against FOCs: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda (UK), Bolivia, Cambodia, Cayman Islands, Comoros, Cyprus, Equatorial Guinea, Faroe Islands (FAS), French International Ship Register (FIS), German International Ship Register (GIS), Georgia, Gibraltar (UK), Honduras, Jamaica, Lebanon, Liberia, Malta, Madeira, Marshall Islands (USA), Mauritius, Moldova, Mongolia, Myanmar, Netherlands Antilles, North Korea, Panama, Sao Tome and Príncipe, St Vincent, Sri Lanka, Tonga, Vanuatu.”

“The below table shows the Flags of Convenience as declared by ITF along with the recent information (Source: Central Intelligence Agency, as of January 2017) in regards to their profile (i.e. the total number of vessels and foreign vessels) under each registry: Table 1: Flags of Convenience:”

Screenshot_2020-05-29 Which flag of convenience do you prefer (1).png


The Liberian Registry has developed and released a dynamic Detention Prevention Programme (DPP), which is an automated Port State Control (PSC) risk assessment system that focuses on preparedness before Liberian vessels enter into port.  This valuable tool and pl¬¬atform is offered to Liberian-flagged ships free of charge.

Liberia’s unique system is the ONLY Detention Prevention Programme of its kind offered by any Flag State. The system aggregates data from across the industry, including Flag State data, Port State data and Class Society data, for a PSC boarding analysis of its entire fleet in real-time.

The system calculates and assigns a PSC boarding risk category to all 4,500+ Liberian-flagged vessels, which allows Liberia to focus its efforts on vessels that are more likely to have a PSC boarding, detention or deficiency. The score for each vessel adjusts in real time based on the port which the vessel is entering. For instance, a vessel may be categorized as low risk for boarding in Singapore, while the same vessel may be high risk for boarding in Houston. Each PSC MoU, each country and each port have their own specific requirements and their own PSC trends that the system considers when determining a vessel’s risk score.

To help vessels prepare for port arrival, LISCR provides dynamic pre-arrival checklists, and schedules inspections upon arrival as necessary. This allows owners and operators to take early and effective action to ensure their vessels remain in compliance with applicable requirements, which of course leads to saving valuable time and money.

Alfonso Castillero, COO of the Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry (LISCR), the US-based manager of the Liberian Registry, says, “We are proud to be recognised as the most technologically advanced flag, and we continually invest in technologies that help save our shipowners time and money.”

Castillero continues, “In 2019 we saw an increase in PSC activity in the United States, and a particular focus on ISM issues.  This led to an increase in detentions that was frankly unprecedented for us.  And though we still have many of these under appeal—having already won two, we felt we had to act.  We knew we had to invest in an early detection system that was dynamic, smart, and easy to use.  This gave birth to the new DPP. We immediately hired ex-USCG officers to build up our regional compliance manager team which is now represented on every US coast, and key international ports.  Further, with the right boots on the ground, this massive investment and sea-change in the way we proactively pre-vet Liberian vessel arrivals has yielded great results and a 54% drop in detentions in the US. This system will facilitate a fast return to Qualship 21 status, and ensure our continued top positioning on the White Lists of the Tokyo and Paris MOU’s.

“Liberia’s Detention Prevention Programme is automatic, real-time, completely dynamic and free of charge for Liberian-flagged vessels. LISCR’s dedicated IT and Fleet PSC Performance departments have spent countless hours working to perfect our Detention Prevention Programme, and what we have built is truly ground-breaking.

“By bringing together data from multiple key industry sources, we are able to see the complete picture of our vessels, their history and thus, their potential risk factor. Our accurate algorithm has already helped prevent detentions in various circumstances all over the world, and this is just the beginning.”

The Liberian Registry continuously monitors, evaluates and implements ongoing compliance efforts while maintaining its position as the world’s fastest growing open registry.


In May 2020, the US Department of State, US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and US Coast Guard issued a joint Sanctions Advisory for the Maritime Industry. The Advisory builds on and expands several prior sanctions advisories for the maritime community issued in 2018-19.

“These sanctions often target the maritime sectors of the relevant countries, as well as shipments of oil, natural gas and various commodities.”

The Advisory is intended as a guidepost to help participants in the maritime sector achieve the desired level of compliance. Most of the guidance is couched in the language of suggestion (e.g., parties “may wish to consider…”), rather than as a mandate. However, it is clear that the US government wishes parties to follow the guidance in the Advisory as closely as possible. Accordingly, those in the maritime community, including owners, charterers, lenders, insurers and others should carefully review the Advisory, and make appropriate changes to their practices and operations.


While the maritime sector has always been a focal point of trade sanctions, since 2018, the Trump Administration has increasingly focused on the maritime sector in policing its “maximum pressure” campaign to enforce US sanctions. US “secondary” or “extraterritorial” sanctions largely prohibit non-US parties from dealing with North Korea, Iran and other sanctioned parties. These sanctions often target the maritime sectors of the relevant countries, as well as shipments of oil, natural gas and various commodities.

In order for these sanctions to be effective in putting pressure on the target countries, the US government needs the global maritime community to police itself, and for players to ensure that both they and their counterparts are in compliance. In a sense, this is similar to the push in the early years of the last decade to force international financial institutions to implement US sanctions worldwide. However, unlike banks, which are heavily regulated and have substantial compliance obligations outside of sanctions, many players in the maritime sector are small and do not have a sophisticated compliance infrastructure, which may make it more difficult to comply.


The following are some of the more salient points in the Advisory:

AIS Transponders

Ships use Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponders to transmit their location. In most cases, they remain active at all times, so the ship’s progress can be tracked. However, transponders may fail due to weather conditions or other technical problems, and may be turned off for legitimate reasons (e.g., in a location where piracy is a concern). OFAC is concerned that ships may turn off or disguise their transponders in order to engage in surreptitious trade in violation of sanctions. This follows news reports and allegations that various ships turned off their transponders when secretly transporting Iranian crude oil to East Asia.

The Advisory suggests that parties should research a ship’s history to identify previous AIS manipulation before entering into new contracts involving the ship, and monitor AIS manipulation and disablement when cargo is in transit. The Advisory also suggests that relevant contracts include a clause requiring the AIS to broadcast at all times, and permitting termination where the clause is breached.

Ship-to-Ship (STS) Transfers

OFAC is concerned that STS transfers can be used to evade sanctions by disguising the origin or destination of the relevant cargo. While OFAC acknowledges that STS transfers can be conducted for legitimate purposes, OFAC flags such transfers as potential sanctions evasion, especially if conducted “at night or in areas determined to be high risk for sanctions evasion or other illicit activity.” The Advisory includes a map showing areas near the Korea Peninsula, China and Eastern Russia that are thought to be high risk for North Korean sanctions evasion. No similar map is shown for other areas (e.g., the Persian Gulf or offshore Syria).

“Name-and-Shame” Lists

Previous sanctions advisories have included a list of ships and shipowners identified as having traded with Syria, Iran and North Korea, and having engaged in STS transfers of cargo that ended up in these countries. The previous advisories made clear that they were not “sanctions lists” (i.e., that the parties listed were not blocked and generally could be dealt with), and that there was no determination that a sanctions violation had occurred. Nevertheless, the market largely reacted to these “name-and-shame” lists as if they were sanctions lists.

The new Advisory does not revise the “name-and-shame” lists, neither to add new parties to the lists, nor to “remove” existing parties (although given that the lists are not official, it is not clear what removal of a name would entail). The Advisory merely says that there may be further “updates” in the future, but gives no hint as to what such an update would involve.

Maritime Sector Participant Checklists

The Advisory includes an Annex containing “checklist” guidelines for maritime sector participants to follow. The Advisory does not require participants to follow all of the checklist guidelines, but adherence is clearly encouraged.

The Annex includes checklists for the following parties:

  • maritime insurance companies;
  • flag registry managers;
  • port state control authorities;
  • shipping industry associations;
  • regional and global commodity trading, supplier, and brokering companies;
  • financial institutions;
  • shipowners, operators, and charterers;
  • classification societies;
  • vessel captains; and
  • crewing companies.

“The Advisory seems to imply that most trade with Syria, whether or not conducted by US persons, may violate sanctions.”

Sanctions Program Annex

The Advisory includes a second Annex describing the relevant sanctions programs targeting North Korea, Iran and Syria, and including country-specific guidance. The inclusion of North Korea and Iran is consistent with the highly comprehensive US “secondary sanctions” targeting both countries, as well as UN sanctions against North Korea. While Syria’s inclusion is consistent with previous advisories, most trade with private actors in Syria is not subject to “secondary” sanctions (i.e., non-US persons generally can deal with Syria in a manner that does not violate US sanctions, so long as they do not deal with the Syrian government or entities or individuals designated as “terrorists”). Nevertheless, the Advisory seems to imply that most trade with Syria, whether or not conducted by US persons, may violate sanctions. Also of interest is the absence of a separate listing for Venezuela, which has been the target of a significant escalation of US sanctions over the past year and has been the focus of a crackdown on sanctions evasion.



The board members for the ISAC include the Alabama State Port Authority, Greater Lafourche Port Commission (Port Fourchon), Jacksonville Port Authority (Jaxport), Port of New Orleans, Port of San Diego, Port Vancouver USA, and six other maritime critical infrastructure stakeholders.

David Cordell, cio for the Port of New Orleans, offers, “By correlating cybersecurity information across MTS critical stakeholders, the ISAC provides all of us with the early warning needed to protect our individual organizations from incidents. We see value from our participation in the MTS-ISAC that we could not obtain elsewhere.”

Christy Coffey, MTS-ISAC vp of operations, said: “Response to the MTS-ISAC has been phenomenal. Strong leadership from our board and executive team, early adopter sharing of suspicious and malicious activity targeting their organizations, and quality partnerships have led to an extraordinarily successful launch.”

The Department of Homeland Security recognises the Maritime Transportation System (MTS) as one of the seven critical subsectors within the Transportation System Sector. The American Association of Port Authorities believes the MTS is worthy of cybersecurity protection.

The MTS-ISAC serves as a centralised point of coordination between the private and public sector to share timely and actionable cyber threat information between trusted stakeholders. Information sharing and analysis efforts focus on threats to both information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) systems that stakeholders can use to prevent and/or minimize potential cyber incidents.

The MTS-ISAC’s services assist MTS critical infrastructure stakeholders with understanding and addressing cyber risk areas that are outlined in the 2021 IMO requirements and the recently released US Coast Guard Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 01-20, “Guidelines for Addressing Cyber Risks at Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) Regulated Facilities”.



The Tokyo MOU has released its Annual Report on Port State Control in the Asia-Pacific Region noting that the number of detentions was up in 2019 after seven years of decline.

Detention percentage also increased in 2019 after 10 continuous years’ decrease. The number of under-performing ships published and number of individual ships involved also rose in 2019. “These increases are considered as the encouraging outcome of improvement and enhancement on targeting or selecting ships for inspections and, emphasis on inspection of under-performing ships by the member Authorities, based on the observation of continuous increase of inspections of high risk ships and under-performing ships,” states the report.

ISM related detainable deficiencies have remained in the top three detainable deficiency categories for several years. One third of all detentions are on the grounds of a major non-compliance with ISM.

The average number of detainable deficiencies per detention is trending slowly upwards. As a result the Tokyo MOU will refine measures to inspect under-performing ships. These inspections will focus on the safety management system implemented on board ships and familiarization and understanding of operational requirements by the crew. Operational requirements continue to be an area of concern due to the increasing complexity of shipboard systems and the pace of change, and the MOU is looking at mechanisms to address this.

The MOU’s concentrated inspection campaign (CIC) on Emergency Systems and Procedures was conducted from September 1 to November 30, with 7,174 CIC inspections. The most notable deficiencies found during the campaign were related to the muster list details in accordance with the requirements (178 deficiencies, 2.48 percent), emergency source of the electrical power supply to essential equipment (151 deficiencies, 2.10 percent), damage control plan readily available (137 deficiencies, 1.91 percent), steering gear system and its related emergency alarm operation (127 deficiencies, 1.77 percent) and capability of the public address system (112 deficiencies, 1.56 percent). Fifty-five ships were detained as a direct result of the CIC, which represents a percentage of 0.77 percent, lower than the overall detention percentage of 2.62 percent for the same period.

Membership of Tokyo MOU was further expanded in 2019 upon with the acceptance of Panama as the 21st full member of the MOU. With Panama, four of the top five world largest flags (Panama, Marshall Islands, Hong Kong and Singapore) are members of the Tokyo MOU.

The report is available here.