Malta, which registered the tanker that broke up off France in December, is among five flags responsible for nearly half of all ships detained in the U.K. last year, Britain's Coastguard said
. Ships registered with the flags of Malta, Cyprus, Panama, St Vincent and Grenadines and Russia accounted for 62 of the 129 detentions made by British port inspectors in 1999, the agency said.
Vessels are detained when they are found to have deficiencies ranging from structural problems to faulty equipment or a lack of safety certificates.
Malta says its shipping register did everything within its power to ensure the Erika was properly regulated.
The European Commission has pledged to use talks with prospective members Cyprus and Malta to win guarantees they would tighten standards for ships operating under their flags.