The Hon. Glenys Hanna Martin, M.P., Minister of Transport & Aviation, affirms that The Bahamas, the world’s third largest “Flag State”, enjoys a first class reputation in the industry, with a good safety track record and one of the best track records in Port State Control inspections in the World.

These track records and reputation were emphasized at a press conference called in the wake of the distress and subsequent sinking of the Prestige, a motor tanker registered in The Bahamas. The incident resulted in the discharge of oil and extensive pollution to Galicia on the Coast of Spain. Immediately after the incident, the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) dispatched senior inspectors to Spain, to conduct an investigation. Additionally, it made contact with other relevant agencies, including the Marine Rescue Centre in Madrid, the Secretary Council of the International Marine Organisation, the American Bureau of Shipping, and the Maritime Transport Directorate of the European Commission.

H.E. Basil G. O’Brien, the Bahamas High Commissioner in the U.K., who also serves as the Permanent Representative of The Bahamas to the International Maritime Organisation, has addressed the IMO Council in London on this matter. Mr. O’Brien also expressed the Government’s deep sympathy to the Government of Spain and the people of Galicia on the environmental and social damage occasioned by the incident.

No coastal state was willing to accept the distressed Prestige which was ordered away from the coast, subsequently encountering severe weather before it broke in two and sank. The issue of places of refuge for vessels in distress was discussed at the IMO Council Meeting, and the BMA continues its full investigation of the incident. Minister Hanna Martin said the final report will be made available in the expectation that lessons can be learnt and similar incidents avoided in the future. The Minister also expressed her belief that there is no evidence that The Bahamas fell short of any standard of any regulation. *”Our objective is to maintain the highest standard”*, said Minister Hanna Martin, *”and The Bahamas will comply with all internationally accepted standards as set out by the IMO.”*

Records indicate that the tanker underwent a certification renewal survey in 2001 and a statutory annual survey in 2002. These surveys were conducted on behalf of The Bahamas by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), which has an excellent reputation in the industry as a “classification society”.