New regime for ship inspection, registration on the horizon

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A new regime for ship inspection and registration at all ports in The Bahamas is on the horizon, according to Raymond King, Acting Commander and Port Controller.

King’s comments came on the heels of a tour of Prince George Wharf hosted for U.S. Charge D’Affaires Steffanie Bowers on Wednesday afternoon.

He said the improved regulations will enhance the sector, strengthen its security measures and prevent future mishaps like the tragic incident involving Four C’s Adventures.

The deadly accident which occurred June 30, claimed the life of an American woman.

Almost six months since the incident unfolded, King affirmed that new legislation, inspection and registration routines will soon be introduced.

“The legislative enhancements are forthcoming. We are almost complete with those. We are still in discussion with The Bahamas maritime authority and they seek to include components of the Caribbean Cargo Ship’s code and the Small Commercial Ship’s code,” he said.

“We’re going to move away from using our inspections and the way the inspections are done and begin using nautical surveyors. This includes the vessels being dry-docked at least once every three years.

“You’ll find that the whole level of inspections which will be much higher in terms of ships’ abilities, the safety, emergency and survival equipment; it’s a much higher regime.”

King revealed that port authorities are also seeking to enhance the training opportunities made available to shipmen as well.

“We are looking beyond just certifying the master himself. We are going to also look at the seafarers and the engineers so that they will be qualified to international standards as well,” he said.

“Any new boats coming into service will have to be classified, inspected and improved from the onset. We don’t want to have a situation where vessels are built and then it’s difficult to survey and inspect them afterwards; it has to be done from the beginning.”

King revealed that new legislation will be coupled with a number of infrastructure upgrades which include the introduction of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV),  which will cover the entire Nassau Harbor, the installation of solar systems, re-fencing of the wharf and designated areas for vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

“We’ve undertaken several bold initiatives which include the introduction of CCTV. We are 50 per cent complete with that installation and that does not only cover Prince George Wharf itself, but it covers the entire harbour from east to west,” he shared.

“We also installed a brand-new solar system and that’s about 50 per cent complete. We have also just completed the renovation of our perimeter fencing for security.

“We are also working on designated zones for pedestrians and vehicular traffic. We expect to pave the entire area and there are other aspects in regards to general repairs that we are working on.”

The entire project is expected to be completed by March 2019, King confirmed.

Bowers noted her elation with the port’s efforts to enhance the security of the wharf and its proposed upgrades to regulations throughout the maritime sector.

“We are heartened to know that there are additional measures being taken to ensure a safe and secure experience,” she said.

“Surely, the safety and security of U.S. citizens is by far the priority of the U.S. Embassy so I appreciate the opportunity to discuss what the port does to ensure a safe visitor experience.”