Caracas - The club has been made aware of incidents of corruption relating to the practice of mandatory underwater hull inspections in Venezuelan ports. In the recent past drug smuggling has been accomplished (in Venezuela) by attaching packages of drugs to the hulls of unsuspecting vessels. Because of this, Venezuelan local authorities have established a programme of mandatory underwater hull inspections for vessels in Venezuelan ports. These inspections are usually conducted by diving companies appointed by the terminal. A number of incidents have been recorded in which the divers arranged by the terminal have reported, upon completion of their survey that a number of items were missing from the hull, these items include: · Nuts · Bolts · Pin locks After completing their diving operations, the divers request that the Master pay in cash for them to replace all of the missing parts prior to the vessels departure. In instances where a Master has refused to pay, divers have been known to request that the authorities arrest the vessel on the basis that the underwater areas surveyed were readied for the placement of foreign objects. It is suspected that in many cases the divers themselves are the cause of the missing parts. This practice has been reported frequently in Puerto Ordaz and Puerto la Cruz.
(Source: The Standard Club)