Against the background of shortage of suitably qualified crew, it is increasingly difficult for ship and crew managers to locate crew who have the necessary certificates to both confirm their competency, and to satisfy flag state requirements.  The recent publicity involving fraudulent certificates allegedly issued by the Panamanian ship registry must cause alarm bells to ring for ship and crew managers. The most spectacular example was the purchase of a First Officer’s Certificate by an official of the International Transport Workers Federation.  The dangers to ship and crew managers if they appoint unqualified crew are obvious, and include the potential prejudice to the shipowner’s right to recover under his insurances.

Fraudulent certificates are not just out and out forgeries, but may be fraudulent because they have been stolen or altered.  Ship and crew managers need to review their verification procedures and ensure that they are as effective as possible.

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