The Federal Maritime Commission yesterday voted to prevent all Russian transport ships from docking in Altlantic and Gulf Coast ports because of allegations that the Soviet fleet has violated commission rules covering rate-setting and shipping practices.
The action came against The Baltic Shipping Co., an umbrella group comering all four Russian shipping companies that own some 30 ships that use the Atlantic and Gulf ports.
Commission Chairman Richard Daschbach said the move was in response to Baltic's failure to provide certain documents to the commission in connection with an FMC investigation of the line's North Atlantic operation.
The trade ban could go into effect within 75 days, after a public comment period if Baltic persists in not supplying the information requested by the FMC.
The shipping industry has long acused the Russian fleet of illegally undercutting prices in an attempt to secure more business in the requlated industry.
Many American and other foreign flag carriers have, for example, questioned the economic justification the Russians have filed for their tariff requests. Tariffs are the rates charged for shipping, as filed with the FMC.
In other words, the shipping claim the Russians are estting their rates unfairly low.
But FMC investigators also were probing the possibility that Baltic was cutting its charges even more than the shippers realized.
Baltic was also charged with "entering into an unknown number of unfiled agreements with other carriers," Daschbach said. FMC law requires that any time two carriers enter into any agreements, such agreements must be filed with, and approved by, the FMC.