Safety vetting and port state control (PSC) are becoming so crucial that a growing number of owners are taking the extra precaution of putting their ships through independent third-party survey prior to official inspection.
Failing such vetting can prove costly. A recent UK High Court ruling found that bulkers cannot realistically operate in the main trades unless they are approved by vetting agency RightShip. Tankers must go through the Ship Inspection Report Programme (Sire) to do business with the oil majors.
PSC statistics reflect not only the owners but also quality auditors such as classification societies and flag states.
One business that has grown along with the vetting boom is Houston-based consultant Triton Marine. The company’s experts are routinely asked to put tankers through independent safety checks ahead of commercial or regulatory inspections.
In one recent instance, the company says it was instructed to preinspect a ship fresh out of a Chinese shipyard following a double-hull conversion ahead of a scheduled PSC survey by the US Coast Guard (USCG). There were an incredible 165 items that needed attention. However, the ship was able to make improvements and earn its USCG certificate of compliance.
Triton Marine president Captain Richard Flanagan has now issued a list of 10 hot tips to crews, instructing on the best way to cope with ship inspections. Top of the list is attitude. “Assume the proper approach. Success with inspections builds over time and will be more successful if personnel take the approach that it is an opportunity to improve the vessel’s performance and management,” Triton wrote.
On the regulatory side, classification society Lloyd’s Register teamed up with the UK Protection-and-Indemnity (P&I) Club on the recent issue of a handbook to owners advising them how best to prepare for PSC.
The Korea Register of Shipping has also initiated preinspections before PSC surveys in the US in a bid to improve its record.
The Panama Register recently instructed ships over 20 years old to undergo an initial flag inspection before PSC surveys in Europe in an attempt to improve its PSC status in the region.
By Adam Corbett , London