The U.S. Senate gave final passage to legislation authored by Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), which restricts international shipping classification societies from providing inspection services of cargo ships belonging to Iran. The Ethical Shipping Inspection Act, included as an amendment to H.R. 2838, the U.S. Coast Guard authorization bill (page 59), makes international classification societies, which perform the inspections, choose between doing business with the United States or countries designated as State Sponsors of Terrorism. The legislation now goes to President Obama for his signature.
"Until now, our laws did not preclude these foreign-based organizations from simultaneouslyrepresenting the U.S. government and the governments of State Sponsors of Terrorism," said Rep. McCaul, the incoming Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. "An organization representing both the United States and Iran clearly runs contradictory to our national security interests."
In anticipation of this measure, last month the Chinese Classification Society (CCS) announced it would discontinue inspections of Iranian vessels in order to avoid financial consequences that would result from U.S. government sanctions and pending Congressional action. CCS became the last of 13 major international classification companies to stop providing such services to Iranian ships.
The U.S. Coast Guard relies on these recognized marine classification societies to serve as agents of our government in conducting more than 3,500 statutory inspections a year on U.S.-flagged merchant vessels. These inspections verify that a vessel is in compliance with both international maritime conventions and domestic legal requirements for safety and the environment. These organizations operate around the globe and establish standards for the design, construction and maintenance of ships, oil platforms, and other marine structures. The American Bureau of Shipping, headquartered in Houston, is the only U.S.-based recognized organization.