European maritime administrations signed an agreement to set up a central shipping safety database aimed at eradicating dangerous vessels. The Equasis system will bring together safety-related information on the world merchant fleet in one Internet site for the first time, the European Commission Maritime Safety Unit said
. The database will be launched from May 2000.
Equasis is part of a quality shipping campaign set up in 1997 to engage all elements in the shipping chain, including shipowners, cargo owners, insurers, brokers, classification societies, agents, ports and terminals - in efforts to improve safety.
In its first phase it will include information from public authorities, such as port state inspections and detention information from Europe, the Far East
and U.S., and industry details such as classification, insurance and participation in inspection schemes.
The maritime administrations of France, Britain, Spain, Singapore and the European Commission signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to set up the Equasis system on Jan. 28. The U.S. Coast Guard and the maritime administration of Japan have also expressed their intention to join but have not yet finalized procedures to do so.