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IMO Secretary-General Calls For More Action On Bulk Carrier Safety

A call for urgent action to ensure the safety of the world's fleet of aging bulk carriers was made by William A. O'Neil, secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). IMO is the U.N. agency concerned with ship- ping safety and the prevention of pollution from ships.

He was speaking at the fifth Ministerial Conference on Port State Control, which was held in Copenhagen on September 14. Mr. O'Neil warned, "I think we have to recognize ... that what has been done so far is only the beginning. Unless we do more now maritime safety could deteriorate very rapidly." He referred to a worsening rate of casualties at sea since the beginning of this year and pointed out that the rate of accidents involving bulk carriers seems to be increasing again.

Mr. O'Neil said that during the next few years, many bulk carriers built in the 1980s of high-tensile steel will be reaching an age when corrosion becomes a major threat. However, because plates made of high-tensile steel are thinner than those made of conventional steel, corrosion is an even greater danger. The Secretary-General said that increased port state control offers one way of preventing such accidents. He maintains there is also a need for an improvement in personnel standards. Over the last decade shipping has been transformed, with one of the biggest changes being tl use of seafarers from developii countries, seafarers who are willii to work for less money than thoi from traditional maritime countrie Mr. O'Neil said, "In addition ensuring that the ships they sail c are safe, we also have a duty 1 ensure that the seafarers are pro] erly trained and that the certificate they possess can be relied on."

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