Italian ship safety inspector RINA, which passed the tanker that sank off France
in December and caused an oil spill that
polluted beaches, said the vessel broke up as a result of cracking of its hull. An internal inquiry into the loss of the 25-year-old Maltese-flag tanker Erika pointed to a small structural failure or leak low in the hull structure, the classification society said.
Classification societies, which oversee ship safety standards, have come under fire since the accident.
RINA said it believed it had acted correctly. However, the society did not gather information on eight sisterships to the Erika that had suffered difficulties that may have pointed to weaknesses in the ship.
All of these ships suffered structural problems, three of them, other than the Erika, were serious.
In order to prevent future accidents, society officials have recommended that the ship inspectors share all their information as vessels changed classification. RINA said it has asked the Maltese and Italian administrations to cancel the International Safety Management (ISM) certification, necessary to operate vessels in European waters, held by the Erika's operator Panship Management