Wednesday, 13 May 2009

International Maritime Industry Asks: Are Korean Ports Safe?

In response to the injustice metered out to the Hebei Two, and their continued detention in Korea, the international maritime industry is focusing on the possibility of launching a worldwide campaign to publicise Korean ports being considered unsafe for tanker crews using international standard best practices and safety training procedures

The international maritime community argues, and rightly so, that the Hebei Two followed world’s best maritime safety practice, as outlined in the international standard manuals for tanker operations, to the letter. The Korean maritime authorities, however, have punished them for doing so.

The fact that they received criminal convictions from a Korean Court for their actions would indicate that Korea is opposed to these internationally accepted and adopted maritime safety practices for tankers at sea.

Does Korea have its own rules and regulations regarding safe operating procedures for tankers, acting independently from the rest of the world?

The Hebei Two case would suggest that this might be the case. This being so, the international maritime community is therefore asking the very obvious question of whether Korean ports are safe for international tankers and their crews?

A further question should be: “What safety regulations and standards for international tankers apply in Korean ports, if not those which the rest of the world use?”

While the campaign may never eventuate, the fact it is being considered is enough to highlight the serious and long-term damage which has been done to Korea’s reputation and that of its maritime authority, most notably the KMTS, its judicial system and one of its largest corporate citizens, Samsung.


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