A web-based global fleet database aimed at shining a searchlight on unsafe shipping has recently been launched by the European Union, with Asian and U.S input. The Equasis site provides a three-year safety history of about 60,000 ships based on information from port authorities, insurers, vessel surveyors, unions and ship-owner organizations. The aim is to present on one platform all the data needed to give a full picture of a ship's quality.
It is reported that the ambitious plan to help shippers identify good from bad vessels still has some shortcomings.A decision on whether to include information on ship accidents has also to be made.
Information on vessel detention is currently supplied by European nations involved in an agreement to police their ports by targeting suspect ships for inspection. The U.S. Coast Guard and Japan will provide similar data for their regions.
The site would have highlight the fact that the Erika, the tanker which broke in two off France last December causing massive pollution, had frequently changed flag registration and classification society - information which could alert a charterer to potential problems with the vessel. But the data would not have indicated that sister ships had suffered structural problems.