Vistamar detained at Tilbury

18th May 2006, 10:02
It would appear that the MCA are taking no chances after the Calyso debacle..!

Press release -


Maritime & Coastguard Agency surveyors today detained the Maltese flagged `Vistamar passenger ship at Tilbury Docks in London after numerous faults were identified on board including unusable port and starboard tenders; a dirty engine room and various oily hazards.

The vessel, with her passengers on board was allowed to move to a different mooring by the Tower of London before all the passengers will be disembarked tomorrow. The vessel has 178 passengers booked on board.

The 1989 built, Bureau Veritas classed, 117 metre length 7478 GT ship with is not allowed to travel further before any deficiencies are corrected and MCA surveyors have re-inspected the vessel.

Bryan Hopkins, Surveyor in Charge from the MCAs Orpington office said:

The owners of the vessel in Almeria, Andalucia in Spain have been informed of our decision to detain this vessel. Our concerns were raised when items such as fire dampers were clearly inoperative; both lifeboats were damaged; escape signs were missing and various means of escape were not marked clearly.

Other issues raised during our inspection included out of date publications on board; life saving signals were out of date and charts remain uncorrected.

The MCA take passenger safety extremely seriously, and we will not allow vessels to traverse our waters where clearly international standards of safety are being breached. We apologise to any passenger who may have been inconvenienced by this action, but we hope they understand this detention has been undertaken in their best interest.


18th May 2006, 13:11
Well, that is the way how to do it.
But on the other hand, I am a little confused.
They let out the press release when they are doing something that should be done anyway.
I think they should let us know when they haven't been able to do it right.
But maybe this is the message which makes some of the ship owners think more about safety issues.

18th May 2006, 15:01
Absolutely all to do with the bad press they had with the Calypso I fear.


Keltic Star
19th May 2006, 05:52
Interesting to note that the Vistamar flies the Maltese flag and the Calypso is flagged Cyprus (while her brochures proclaim "European Flag").

Is the proposed Euro flag for merchant shipping a back door to gaining respectability for delapidated, shoestring budget, cruise ships. If so, another good reason that the Red Ensign should not be associated in any Euro concept of ship safety.

Is the MCA bowing to political pressure from the EC? In the past, British safety standards were some of the highest of maritime nations.

While we bemoan the loss of cruise ships to flags of convenience, at least with Carnival and RCCL you have the assurance that they were built to, comply with and are regularly inspected to U.S. Coast Guard regulations. Woe betide any operator who thinks they can pull a fast one with U.S.C.G.

fred henderson
19th May 2006, 10:31
You are absolutely correct about the enforcement of US regulations Keltic Star. This admirable state of affairs was brought on by the Yarmouth Castle dissaster and similar tragedies in the 1960s. At least the crew of the Calypso behaved responsibly and the Captain and officers did not leave by the first lifeboat "to seek help" as happened in the Yarmouth Castle case.
It is because of the US regulations that many of these old timers stay in European waters. I would be reluctant to set foot on some of them in dry dock, but they all seem to be loved by some of our members because of their external appearance. Same thing with the Singapore bar boy/girls!


Ron Stringer
19th May 2006, 14:52
[QUOTE=Keltic Star]Is the MCA bowing to political pressure from the EC? In the past, British safety standards were some of the highest of maritime nations. QUOTE]

Not from the EC (nor from the EU, as it now is) but from British shipowners. They lobbied governments strongly in Maggie Thatcher's day and subsequently, claiming that having to meet higher standards than competitors sailing under other flags put them at a disadvantage. The initial slow response from the UK Government resulted in massive flagging out, with the registry falling to only two hundred plus vessels by the mid 1990s.

As a consequence the Department of Trade (and its subsidiary agencies, the Maritime Safety Agency and H.M. Coastguard - later to be merged to form the current Maritime and Coastguard Agency/MCA) were instructed that UK maritime regulations could demand no more than had been accepted and recommended by IMO. This covered all aspects of ship operation, construction, equipment, manning and safety. Since UK standards had always been higher than those of IMO (which is by definition the lowest common denominator of the standards applied by all flags), then UK standards fell. As a consequence of this and other Government incentives, costs under the Red Duster fell, ships flagged back in and the registry grew.

You pays you money and you makes your choice whether this is a better arrangement than that which existed pre-Maggie.


Keltic Star
20th May 2006, 04:49
Thanks for the insight Ron. Can British shipowners also hire lower paid EU crew rather than Brit's?

Ron Stringer
20th May 2006, 07:27
Thanks for the insight Ron. Can British shipowners also hire lower paid EU crew rather than Brit's?
They can hire any nationality (outside or inside the EU) for any post (officer or rating, including Master) that they want to, as long as the person's paperwork shows his/her qualifications/experience to be appropriate. No limits. That what meant by a "modern and flexible employment law".


20th May 2006, 11:50
Irish ferrries on strike recently when Irish crews replaced by low paid Eastern europeans. Strike resulted in company having to pay Irish minimum wages.Nothing in the media ofcourse despite constant reporting of illegal aliens taking jobs. Stena Holyhead in line for next dispute for exactly same. (Ouch)

20th May 2006, 12:57
I think this shows that it is very wise to check out your cruise ship thoroughly before you book a trip. As we all know you do not get top quality for knock down prices. Seeing some of the vessels that are being advertised it amazes me that there are not more tragedies. We seem to be having a fair few at present. I believe there is a lot a cost cutting and untrained personnel floating (excuse pun) around.
Hawkey01 (egg)

20th May 2006, 13:16
If you travel by the tub ridiculously called "Superferry" from Swansae to Cork, don't expect to find any Welsh or Irish amongst the crew. Settle down for some nice Cypriot and Eastern European hospitality that comes free with every snarl.! I think they've been sent to man the ship as a punishment.