Indonesia has been recognised internationally for improvements to the safety of its ships.

Indonesia’s shipping fleet is well placed to ride the waves of a recovery in world trade once the Covid-19 pandemic has passed after international inspectors concluded that the safety of its vessels has improved.

In May the international organisation of port state control authorities in the Asia-Pacific region, known as the Tokyo MOU, removed Indonesia from a “blacklist” of countries whose vessels consistently fail safety inspections in foreign ports.

The organisation is responsible for promoting maritime safety, the marine environment and the welfare of ships’ crews.

The upgrade is expected to instil confidence in the Indonesian ship-inspection regime and encourage the use of Indonesian vessels to transport cargoes.

Ahmad, the head of the Indonesian Sea and Coast Guard, said he hoped Indonesia would soon be promoted to the Tokyo MOU’s “whitelist” of countries whose vessels have the highest safety standards.

A resource-rich archipelago of some 17,000 islands, Indonesia relies for its prosperity on safe maritime transport to move goods between its own ports and to trade with the rest of the world.

A regulation issued by the transport ministry in 2018 required all Indonesian-flagged vessels to undergo safety checks by a flag state control officer before setting sail for foreign ports.

Last year 11 out of 298 Indonesian vessels inspected in foreign ports were detained for falling below international safety standards. That was down from 17 out of 267 vessels in 2018.

Centre of excellence
For many years AMSA has worked closely with the Indonesian authorities to raise safety standards.

The cooperation is part of the Indonesia Transport Safety Assistance Package (ITSAP), a partnership between five Australian and six Indonesian agencies launched after a fatal aircraft crash in the Javanese city of Yogyakarta in 2007.

Recent assistance has seen the establishment of a new institution, known as the Ship Safety Inspection – Centre of Excellence, within the transport ministry’s Directorate General for Sea Transportation to improve the inspection regime.

An Australian firm, AMSAT International, was contracted to found the centre in January 2019.

Australian trainers fly in to deliver dedicated courses and prepare Indonesian staff to deliver future training.

AMSA has provided significant training to Indonesian port and flag state control officers, and all currently qualified Indonesian port state control officers have been trained under ITSAP.

The centre is expected to come under full Indonesian control by June 2022.

International recognition of Indonesia’s improved safety regime means more of its vessels will be able to ship goods overseas as lockdowns intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus are lifted.