follows the release of statistics showing that of 54 maritime administrations
surveyed, more than 12 000 cases of forged certificates of competency were
reported. The figures were reported to the International Maritime Organisation
by the Seafarers' International Research Centre, Cardiff University in Wales.
figures highlight the gravity of the situation. Around the world, vessels are
being operated by people whose abilities have not been vetted," warned
Captain Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB.
owners and managers need to be aware of the widespread nature of the problem
and take extra care to check for forged certificates when hiring crew. IMB can
provide assistance in this respect."
IMB is a
division of ICC Commercial Crime Services, the crime-fighting arm of the
International Chamber of Commerce.
It is the
responsibility of ship operators to check the validity of their crews' papers.
If they are caught by the routine controls of the port authorities, they risk
hefty charges for negligence.
according to IMB, improved security is really needed at the source of the
frauds - often the issuing authorities themselves are to blame. Many of these
frauds go undetected, but recently the Coast Guard office in Puerto Rico was
reported to have issued nearly 500 suspicious certificates of competency. Cases
like this would be avoided if certificates were re-examined before being
believes that curbing the production of fake documents would reduce the
incidence of maritime crime. Fraudulent maritime documents are sought by
criminal seafarers who do not want to be identified and by those who are
unqualified and looking for work at sea.
Many of the
phantom ships that set off to sea with a cargo and then disappear are sailed by
crewmen with false passports and competency certificates. They usually escape
detection by the port authorities.
In a recent
case of a vessel located and arrested in South-East Asia further to IMB
investigations, it has emerged that all the senior officers had false passports.
The ship's registry documents were also false.
employers who come across suspicious certificates should report them to the
issuing authority or to the IMB who can also carry out large-scale