RINA, the Italian shipping standards body, which has taken enormous heat for passing as seaworthy the tanker Erika which broke up off France
, has struck 22 ships off its books. "RINA has withdrawn class on 22 ships, totaling 394,100 gross tons (gt), during this year to the end of March," the ship classification society said. The purge was the result of internal checks set up after the loss last December of the 25-year-old tanker Erika which heavily polluted hundreds of French beaches
. Ships were barred from classification where owners were unwilling or unable to reach high enough standards, RINA spokesman Gianfranco Damilano said
. The disclassed ships included six oil tankers and two bulk carriers all over 25 years old, he said. The largest were a 62,380 gt tanker and a 75,000 gt bulk carrier. The purge was the first step in a program to improve standards, Damilano added.