Finland criticises Russian monitoring of traffic in Gulf of Finland
Finland to discuss inadequacies at meeting with Russian officials next month
Finland says that Russia’s monitoring centre for maritime traffic could have prevented the accident that caused the tanker Propontis to scrape the sea bottom in February.
Movements of ships in the area can be followed on a screen at centre, and staff are able to contact the bridge of any of the ships.
If a vessel strays into shallow water or away from the right channel the monitors, who have been trained as sea captains, can instruct the ship to change course. The Russians are responsible for safety in the waters near the island of Suursaari, where the accident happened.
For some reason that remains unknown to Finnish officials, the Russian supervisors did not warn the Propontis that it was drifting off course.
Harri Cavén, a high official at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, says that "Russia is not acting with the seriousness that it should".
The problems of maritime traffic control efforts will be taken up at a meeting of Finnish and Russian maritime officials in April.
Helsingin Sanomat has learned that the Russian monitoring centre lacks professional personnel, and that it also suffers from serious organisational problems. Everything goes well if a skilled professional is on duty, but at other times, serious shortcomings can emerge.
International waters in most of the Gulf of Finland are monitored by Finland and Estonia. Estonia is responsible for the southern part, and Finland keeps watch on the northern sector. The Russian territorial waters in the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland are also part of the system.
The arrangement is based on a decision by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). In Finland, the Finnish Maritime Administration is responsible for the supervision.
All vessels whose gross tonnage exceeds 300 tonnes are required to report to the Gulf of Finland Reporting centre (GOFREP).
The movements, direction, and speed of each ship can be seen on the screens of the centre. GOFREP monitors are qualified sea captains, and they are able to communicate with the staff of the ships using the right professional terminology.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Transport of Russian oil through Gulf of Finland could double soon (5.3.2007)
Tanker Propontis to dock in Finnish city of Porvoo (13.2.2007)
Tanker runs aground in Gulf of Finland - major environmental disaster averted (12.2.2007)
New Russian oil terminal opens in Vysotsk, near Vyborg (18.6.2004)