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US Navy detentions of ships

A short note following the latest summary news reports.

The Greek operated vessel "Man" was detained by the US Navy at the UN
inspection point  outside the entrance to the channel up to the port of Umm
Qasr for 13 days. It was carrying 13,500 MT bagged EEC sugar loaded from
Spain. It was carrying the usual copy of the UN 661 committee approvals.
The MIF insisted that the ship had insufficient channels built into the
stowage to enable their inspectors to verify that the ship was carrying
nothing else. In normal practice, it is undesirable to create such
inspection channels. Bagged sugar should be stowed as a single block stow
for safety and stability reasons.

Partly as a consequence of the delay in the high heat and temperatures of
the Arab Gulf, much of the sugar has  suffered from a cycle of condensation
and caking. Only 3,500 MT has been discharged. The Iraqi State Trading
Company for Foodstuff is contemplating rejection of the remaining 10,000 MT
left on board. The continuing delays and extra costs of finding an
alternative place to discharge and sell the sugar will cause the shipowners
considerable loss.

Amongst  ships detained accused of smuggling was the "Georgios D". This
ship has been held by the US Navy since 12th July on its departure from Umm
Qasr after discharging cargo. Its crime? To take a delivery of 425 MT fuel
oil (17 days supply for normal running) ordered by the Jordanian controlled
charterers of the ship without realising that the Jordanians had not sought
or obtained UN approval for the supply. The "Georgios D" was delayed for
weeks before being permitted discharge on account of other disputes between
the Jordanians and the Iraqis.

Numerous approaches to the MIF Commander in Bahrain, the US State
Department, the Greek and UK Foreign Offices have produced a bizarre
picture of the US Navy making up the rules as it goes along, without
thought or application of either general international legal criteria or
stated US principles of the pursuit of a foreign policy actively seeking
the application of human rights and democratic principles.

Enquiry at the UN itself reveals that there is a measure of disagreement
over whether it reasonable to permit the Iraqis to supply fuel to ships
carrying their cargoes to Umm Qasr. The UK Foreign Office has so far failed
to state whether they hold a view on this issue, and if so, what it is.

Greetings to all,

Mark Galloway

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