PANAMA CITY, Panama (AP) – Panama’s shipping registry is tightening oversight of the companies that inspect its ships after an Egyptian ferry sank last week killing 1,000 people, authorities said Thursday.
Panama’s Maritime Authority commissions private companies to perform inspections of ships bearing Panamanian registry, like the ‘Al-Salaam Boccaccio 98’ ferry that sank Feb. 3.
“This is an oversight procedure to find out whether these (inspection) companies are properly certifying ships,” said Fernando Solorzano, the authority’s director.
The authority had reviewed the work of four companies last year and has decided to extend the program, which Solorzano hopes will “strengthen and improve the reputation of our registry.”
Last week, a fire broke out on an aging Egyptian ferry before it sank in the Red Sea. Investigators were still working to determine the fire’s connection to the sinking.
Panama has one of the largest ship registries in the world, and is widely considered a “flag of convenience” because of the country’s low registration costs and requirements.