Port State Control (PSC): PSC inspection is the inspection of foreign ships in a port to verify that the condition of the ship and its equipment comply with the requirements of international regulations and that the ship is manned and operated in compliance with these rules. Justification of the concept of port state control principles can be seen from the following:
- Authority to inspect a foreign ship comes from a basic principle of UNCLOS 82 that one can enforce protection of sovereignty and environment.
- PSC has powers to board & inspect a foreign ship vide almost all major Conventions, to ensure that they meet IMO requirements.
- Port State Control can be seen as a weapon of safety to eliminate substandard ships from the seas.
- These inspections were originally intended to be a back up to Flag State implementation, intercepting ships which do not come to home country. The experience however, has shown that these measures can be extremely effective.
- The Organization adopted resolution A.682(17) on Regional co-operation in the control of ships and discharges promoting the conclusion of regional agreements. A ship going to a port in one country will normally visit other countries in the region and it can, therefore, be more efficient if inspections can be closely coordinated in order to focus on substandard ships and to avoid multiple inspections.
- The Flag State may have a favouring or fatherly attitude towards own ships. The Port State on the other hand provides policing attitude towards such ships.
Worldwide, there are currently ten safety regimes in place to cover most of the coastal States. Those regimes are as follows:
- Europe and North Atlantic (Paris MoU)
- Asia and the Pacific (Tokyo MoU)
- Latin America (Acuerdo de Viña del Mar)
- Caribbean (Caribbean MoU)
- West and Central Africa (Abuja MoU)
- Black Sea (Black Sea MoU)
- Mediterranean (Mediterranean MoU)
- Indian Ocean (Indian Ocean MoU)
- Arab States of the Gulf (Riyadh MoU)
- US (US Coast Guard)
Q. What IMO resolution relates to Port State Control?
Resolution A.1052 (27) adopted on 30 November 2011 viz. ‘Procedures for Port State Control, 2011’, revokes IMO Resolution A.787 (19) adopted on 23 November 1995 procedures for Port State Control and Resolution A.882 (21) adopted on 25 November 1999 amendments to the procedures for Port State Control.
Q. What is the purpose of IMO Resolution 1052 (27)?
This is to provide basic guidance on the conduct of Port State Control inspections and afford consistency in the conduct of these inspections, the recognition of deficiencies of a ship, its equipment, or its crew, and the application of control procedures.
Q. To which ships does it apply?
These Procedures apply to ships falling under the provisions of:
- SOLAS, 1974, as amended;
- SOLAS Protocol 1988;
- Load Lines, 1966;
- Load Lines Protocol 1988;
- MARPOL 73/78;
- STCW 1978, as amended;
- Tonnage Convention, 1969; and
- AFS Convention.
Ships of non-Parties or below Convention size should be given no more favorable treatment.
Q. How do the various Conventions provide for the provision of Port State Control?
Regulation 19 of chapter I, regulation 6.2 of chapter IX, regulation 4 of chapter XI-1 and regulation 9 of chapter XI-2 of SOLAS, as modified by the SOLAS Protocol 1988; article 21 of Load Lines, as modified by the Load Lines Protocol 1988; articles 5 and 6, regulation 11 of
Annex I, regulation 16.9 of Annex II, regulation 8 of Annex III, regulation 13 of Annex IV, regulation 8 of Annex V and regulation 10 of Annex VI of MARPOL; article X of STCW; article 12 of Tonnage and article 11 of AFS provide for control procedures to be followed by a Party to a relevant Convention with regard to foreign ships visiting their ports.
Q. How are the ships of non-parties dealt with?
Articles of the SOLAS Protocol 1988, MARPOL, STCW and AFS provide that no more favorable treatment is to be given to the ships of countries which are not party to the relevant Convention. All Parties should, as a matter of principle, apply these procedures to ships of non-parties in order to ensure that equivalent surveys and inspections are conducted and an equivalent level of safety and protection of the marine environment is ensured. As ships of non-Parties are not provided with SOLAS, Load Lines or MARPOL certificates, as applicable, or the crew members may not hold STCW certificates, the Port State Control Officer (PSCO), taking into account the principles established in these procedures, should be satisfied that the ship and crew do not present a danger to those on board or an unreasonable threat of harm to the marine environment. If the ship or crew has some form of certification other than that required by a Convention, the PSCO may take the form and content of this documentation into account in the evaluation of that ship. The conditions of such a ship, her safety level and her equipment and the certification of the crew the manning should suffice the requirement of the provisions of the Conventions; otherwise, the ship should be subject to such restrictions as are necessary.
Q. How are the ships below Convention size dealt with?
The PSCOs should be guided by any certificates and other documents issued by or on behalf of the Flag State Administration. The PSCOs should limit the scope of inspection to the verification of compliance with those certificates and documents. While a relevant instrument is not applicable to a ship below Convention size, the PSCO’s task should be to assess whether the ship is of an acceptable standard in regard to safety and the environment.
Q. What is ‘Clear grounds’ used in respect of procedures for Port State Control? In which situations a more detailed inspection is undertaken?
Clear Grounds implies the presence of evidence that:
- the ship, its equipment, or its crew does not correspond substantially with the requirements of the relevant Conventions; or
- the Master or crew members are not familiar with essential shipboard procedures relating to the safety of ships or the prevention of pollution.
“Clear grounds” to conduct a more detailed inspection include:
- the absence of principal equipment or arrangements required by the applicable Conventions;
- evidence from a review of the ship’s certificates that a certificate or certificates are clearly invalid;
- evidence that documentation required by the applicable Conventions and listed in appendix 12 is not on board, incomplete, not maintained or falsely maintained;
- evidence from the PSCO’s general impressions and observations that serious hull or structural deterioration or deficiencies exist that may place at risk the structural, watertight or weather tight integrity of the ship;
- evidence from the PSCO’s general impressions or observations that serious deficiencies exist in the safety, pollution prevention or navigational equipment;
- information or evidence that the Master or crew is not familiar with essential shipboard operations relating to the safety of ships or the prevention of pollution, or that such operations have not been carried out;
- indications that key crew members may not be able to communicate with each other or with other persons on board;
- the emission of false distress alerts not followed by proper cancellation procedures; and
- receipt of a report or complaint containing information that a ship appears to be substandard.
Q. How is a ship identified as a substandard ship?
A ship is regarded as substandard if the hull, machinery, equipment or operational safety, is substantially below the standards required by the applicable Conventions or if the crew is not in conformance with the safe manning document. The fact being apparent from:
- the absence of principal equipment;
- non-compliance of equipment;
- substantial deterioration of the ship or its equipment;
- insufficiency of operational proficiency, or unfamiliarity with procedures; and
- insufficiency of manning.
The ship therefore may appear unseaworthy to endanger ship or environment. The PSCO should also take into account the guidelines in appendix 2, which is ‘Guidelines for the detention of ships’.
Q. What is detention by PSC?
When it is established that:
1. the condition of the ship or its crew does not correspond substantially with the applicable Conventions; and
2. sailing out would present a danger to ship / persons and harm to environment.
PSCO ensures that the ship does not sail until her proceeding to sea does not present a danger to the ship or persons, or threat of harm to the marine environment, whether or not such action will affect the normal schedule of the departure of the ship.
Q. Who can be a Port State Control Officer?
A PSCO is a person:
- duly authorized by the competent authority of a Party to a relevant Convention to carry out Port State Control inspections; and
- responsible exclusively to that Party.
Q. What is ‘Stoppage of an operation’?
It is the formal prohibition against a ship to continue an operation due to an identified deficiency (ies) which, singly or together, render the continuation of such operation hazardous.
Q. What professional qualifications are required of a PSCO?
Qualification and training requirements of PSCOs are as follows:
- The PSCO should be an experienced officer qualified as Flag State surveyor.
- The PSCO should be able to communicate in English with the key crew.
- Training should be provided for PSCOs to give the necessary knowledge of the provisions of the applicable Conventions which are relevant to the conduct of Port State Control, taking into account the latest IMO Model Courses for Port State Control.
- In specifying the qualifications and training requirements for PSCOs, the Administration should take into account, as appropriate, which of the internationally agreed instruments is relevant for the control by the Port State and the variety of types of ships which may enter its ports.
- PSCOs carrying out inspections of operational requirements should be qualified as a Master or chief engineer and have appropriate seagoing experience, or have qualifications from an institution recognized by the Administration in a maritime related field and have specialized training to ensure adequate competence and skill, or be a qualified officer of the Administration with an equivalent level of experience and training, for performing inspections of the relevant operational requirements.
- Periodic seminars for PSCOs should be held in order to update their knowledge with respect to instruments related to Port State Control.
When the required professional expertise cannot be provided by the PSCO, the PSCO may be assisted by any person with the required expertise, as acceptable to the Port State. The PSCOs and the persons assisting them should have no commercial interest, either in the port of inspection, or in the ships inspected, nor should PSCOs be employed by, or undertake work on behalf of, recognized organizations. A PSCO should carry a personal document in the form of an identity card issued by the Port State and indicating that the PSCO is authorized to carry out the control.
Q. On what accounts can a PSC inspection be initiated?
Inspection by PSC can be triggered on following accounts:
- In accordance with the provisions of the applicable Conventions, Parties may conduct inspections by PSCOs of foreign ships in their ports as authorized by several Conventions.
- Such inspections may be undertaken on the basis of the initiative of the Party.
- Inspection can also be initiated on the request of, or on the basis of, information regarding a ship provided by another Party.
- Inspection can also be undertaken after information regarding a ship provided by a member of the crew, a professional body, an association, a trade union or any other individual with an interest in the safety of the ship, its crew and passengers, or the protection of the marine environment.
Q. How should a PSCO go about, during an initial inspection? When would he go for detailed inspection?
In an initial inspection, a PSCO may proceed to the ship and, before boarding, gain from its appearance in the water, an impression of its standard of maintenance from such items as the condition of its paintwork, corrosion or pitting or unrepaired damage. Soon, the PSCO should ascertain the type of ship, year of build and size of the ship for the purpose of determining which provisions of the Conventions are applicable. On boarding and introduction to the Master or the responsible ship’s officer, the PSCO should examine the ship’s relevant certificates and documents. If the certificates are valid and the PSCO’s general impression and visual observations on board confirm a good standard of maintenance, the PSCO should generally confine the inspection to reported or observed deficiencies, if any.
In conducting an initial inspection, the PSCO should check both the validity of the relevant certificates and other documents and the overall condition of the ship, including its equipment, navigational bridge, decks including forecastle, cargo holds/areas, engine-room and pilot transfer arrangements. In pursuance of control procedures the PSCO should utilize the relevant guidelines. If, however, the PSCO from general impression or observations on board has clear grounds for believing that the ship, its equipment or its crew do not substantially meet the requirements, the PSCO should proceed to a more detailed inspection.
Q. What is ‘Code of Good Practice’ for Port State Control Officers?
The PSCO should observe the Code of Good Practice for Port State Control Officers, as shown in appendix 1. He should use professional judgement in carrying out all duties and consider consulting others as deemed appropriate. The PSCOs should use their professional judgement in carrying out their duties. The guiding principles are as follows:
A PSCO should:
- remember that a ship is a home as well as a workplace for the ship’s personnel and should not unduly disturb their rest or privacy;
- comply with any ship housekeeping rules such as removing dirty shoes or work clothes;
- not be prejudiced by the race, gender, religion or nationality of the crew when making decisions and treat all personnel on board with respect;
- respect the authority of the Master or his deputy;
- be polite but professional and firm as required;
- never become threatening, abrasive or dictatorial or use language that may cause offence;
- expect to be treated with courtesy and respect.
Conduct of inspections
A PSCO should:
- comply with all health and safety requirements of the ship and their administration, e.g. wearing of personal protective clothing, and not take any action or cause any action to be taken which could compromise the safety of the PSCO or the ship’s crew;
- comply with all security requirements of the ship and wait to be escorted around the ship by a responsible person;
- present their identity cards to the Master or the representative of the owner at the start of the inspection;
- explain the reason for the inspections. However, where the inspection is triggered by a port or complaint they must not reveal the identity of the person making the complaint;
- apply the procedures of PSC and the Convention requirements in a consistent and professional way and interpret them pragmatically when necessary;
- not try to mislead the crew, for example by asking them to do things that are contrary to the Conventions;
- request the crew to demonstrate the functioning of equipment and operational activities, such as drills and not make tests themselves;
- seek advice when they are unsure of a requirement or of their findings (for example by consulting colleagues, publications, the Flag Administration, the recognized organization) rather than making an uninformed decision,;
- where it is safe to do so accommodate the operational needs of the port and the ship;
- explain clearly to the Master the findings of the inspection and the corrective action required and ensure that the report of inspection is clearly understood;
- issue to the Master a legible and comprehensible report of inspection before leaving the ship;
The PSCO should:
- deal with any disagreement over the conduct or findings of the inspection calmly and patiently;
- advise the Master of the complaints procedure in place if the disagreement cannot be resolved within a reasonable time;
- advise the Master of the right of appeal and relevant procedures in the case of detention;
- be independent and not have any commercial interest in their ports and the ships they inspect or companies providing services in their ports. For example, the PSCOs should not be employed from time to time by companies which operate ships in their ports or the PSCOs should not have an interest in the repair companies in their ports;
- be free to make decisions based on the findings of their inspections and not on any commercial considerations of the port;
- always follow the rules of their administrations regarding the acceptance of gifts and favours, e.g. meals on board;
- firmly refuse any attempts of bribery and report any blatant cases to the maritime authority;
- not misuse their authority for benefit, financial or otherwise; and
A PSCO should update their technical knowledge regularly.
Q. What are the detainable deficiencies under SOLAS?
Following is a list of deficiencies, which are considered to be of such a serious nature that they may warrant the detention of the ship involved. This list is not considered exhaustive, but is intended to give examples of relevant items.
Areas under the SOLAS Convention
- Failure of proper operation of propulsion and other essential machinery, as well as electrical installations.
- Insufficient cleanliness of engine-room, excess amount of oily-water mixture in bilges, insulation of piping including exhaust pipes in engine-room contaminated by oil, and improper operation of bilge pumping arrangements.
- Failure of the proper operation of emergency generator, lighting, batteries and switches.
- Failure of proper operation of the main and auxiliary steering gear.
- Absence, insufficient capacity or serious deterioration of personal life-saving appliances, survival craft and launching and recovery arrangements.
- Absence, non-compliance or substantial deterioration to the extent that it cannot comply with its intended use of fire detection system, fire alarms, fire-fighting equipment, fixed fire-extinguishing installation, ventilation valves, fire dampers, and quick-closing devices.
- Absence, substantial deterioration or failure of proper operation of the cargo deck area fire protection system on tankers.
- Absence, non-compliance or serious deterioration of lights, shapes or sound signals.
- Absence or failure of the proper operation of the radio equipment for distress and safety communication.
- Absence or failure of the proper operation of navigation equipment, taking the relevant provisions of SOLAS regulation V/16.2 into account.
- Absence of corrected navigational charts, and/or all other relevant nautical publications necessary for the intended voyage, taking into account that electronic charts may be used as a substitute for the charts.
- Absence of non-sparking exhausts ventilation for cargo pump-rooms. Serious deficiency in the operational requirements listed in appendix 7(control of operational requirements).
- Number, composition or certification of crew not corresponding with safe manning document.
- Non-implementation or failure to carry out the Enhanced Survey Programme.
- Absence or failure of a voyage data recorder (VDR), when its use is compulsory.
Q. What are the detainable deficiencies under Loadlines and MARPOL 73/78?
Areas under the Load Lines Convention
- Significant areas of damage or corrosion, or pitting of plating and associated stiffening in decks and hull affecting seaworthiness or strength to take local loads, unless properly authorized temporary repairs for a voyage to a port for permanent repairs have been carried out.
- A recognized case of insufficient stability.
- The absence of sufficient and reliable information, in an approved form, which by rapid and simple means, enables the Master to arrange for the loading and ballasting of the ship in such a way that a safe margin of stability is maintained at all stages and at varying conditions of the voyage, and that the creation of any unacceptable stresses in the ship’s structure are avoided.
- Absence, substantial deterioration or defective closing devices of hatch closing arrangements and watertight/weathertight doors.
- Absence of, or impossibility to read, draught marks and/or Load Line marks.
Areas under the MARPOL Convention, Annex I
- Absence, serious deterioration or failure of proper operation of the oily-water filtering equipment, the oil discharge monitoring and control system or the 15 ppm alarm arrangements.
- Remaining capacity of slop and/or sludge tank insufficient for the intended voyage.
- Oil Record Book not available.
- Unauthorized discharge bypass fitted.
- Failure to meet the requirements of regulation 20.4 or alternative requirements specified in regulation 20.7.
Areas under the MARPOL Convention, Annex II
- Absence of P and A Manual.
- Cargo is not categorized.
- No Cargo Record Book available.
- Unauthorized discharge bypass fitted.
Areas under the MARPOL Convention, Annex IV
To be developed.
Areas under the MARPOL Convention, Annex V
- Absence of the garbage management plan.
- No garbage record book available.
- Ship’s personnel not familiar with disposal/discharge requirements of garbage management plan.
Areas under the MARPOL Convention, Annex VI
- Absence of valid IAPP Certificate and where relevant EIAPP Certificates and Technical Files.
- A marine diesel engine, with a power output of more than 130 kW, which is installed on board a ship constructed on or after 1 January 2000, or a marine diesel engine having undergone a major conversion on or after 1 January 2000, which does not comply with the NOx Technical Code 2008.
- The sulphur content of any fuel oil used on board ships exceeds the following limits:
4.5% m/m prior to 1 January 2012;
3.5% m/m on and after 1 January 2012; and
0.5% m/m on and after 1 January 2020*.
- The sulphur content of any fuel used on board exceeds the following limits while operating within a SOx emission control area:
1.0% m/m on and after 1 July 2010; and
0.1% m/m on and after 1 January 2015, respectively, as per the amendments adopted by resolution MEPC.176(58).
- An incinerator installed on board the ship on or after 1 January 2000 does not comply with requirements contained in appendix IV to the Annex, or the standard specifications for shipboard incinerators developed by the Organization (resolutions MEPC.76(40) and MEPC.93(45)).
- The Master or crew is not familiar with essential procedures regarding the operation of air pollution prevention equipment.
Q. What are the detainable deficiencies under STCW 78 as amended?
Areas under the STCW Convention
- Failure of seafarers to hold a certificate, to have an appropriate certificate, to have a valid dispensation or to provide documentary proof that an application for an endorsement has been submitted to the Administration.
- Failure to comply with the applicable safe manning requirements of the Administration.
- Failure of navigational or engineering watch arrangements to conform to the requirements specified for the ship by the Administration.
- Absence in a watch of a person qualified to operate equipment essential to safe navigation, safety radio-communications or the prevention of marine pollution.
- Inability to provide for the first watch at the commencement of a voyage and for subsequent relieving watches persons who are sufficiently rested and otherwise fit for duty.
- Failure to provide proof of professional proficiency for the duties assigned to seafarers for the safety of the ship and the prevention of pollution.
Q. What is Port State action in response to the information received about a substandard ship?
On receipt of information about an alleged substandard ship or alleged pollution risk, the authorities should immediately investigate the matter and take the action required by the circumstances in accordance with the preceding sections. If there is a probability of detention, authorities should forthwith notify any maritime, consular and/or diplomatic representatives of the Flag State in the area of the ship and request them to initiate or cooperate with investigations. Likewise, the Recognized Organization which has issued the relevant certificates on behalf of the Flag State should be notified. These provisions will not, however, relieve the authorities of the Port State, being a Party to a relevant Convention, from the responsibility for taking appropriate action in accordance with its powers under the relevant Conventions. If the Port State receiving information is unable to take action because there is insufficient time or no PSCOs can be made available before the ship sails, the information should be passed to the authorities of the country of the next appropriate port of call, to the Flag State and also to the Recognized Organization in that port.
Q. What is suspension of inspection in a PSC inspection?
In exceptional circumstances where, as a result of a more detailed inspection, the overall condition of a ship and its equipment, also taking into account the crew conditions, are found to be obviously substandard, the PSCO may suspend an inspection. Prior to suspending an inspection, the PSCO should have recorded detainable deficiencies. In cases where the ship is detained and an inspection is suspended, the Port State Authority should notify the responsible parties without delay. The notification should include information about the detention, and State that the inspection is suspended until that authority has been informed that the ship complies with all relevant requirements.
Q. What happens when the deficiencies are rectified fully/ partially?
The PSCO should endeavor to secure the rectification of all deficiencies detected. In the case of deficiencies which are clearly hazardous to safety or the environment, the PSCO should, ensure that the hazard is removed before the ship is allowed to proceed to sea. For this purpose, appropriate action should be taken, which may include detention or a formal prohibition of a ship to continue an operation due to established deficiencies which, individually or together, would render the continued operation hazardous.
Where deficiencies which caused a detention, cannot be remedied in the port of inspection, the Port State Authority may allow the ship concerned to proceed to the nearest appropriate repair yard available. provided that the conditions agreed between the Port State Authority and the Flag State are complied with. Such conditions will ensure that the ship should not sail until it can proceed without risk to the safety of the passengers or crew, or risk to other ships, or without presenting an unreasonable threat of harm to the marine environment. Such conditions may include confirmation from the Flag State that remedial action has been taken on the ship in question. In such circumstances the Port State Authority should notify the authority of the ship’s next port of call, the relevant parties as appropriate. On the condition that all possible efforts have been made to rectify all other deficiencies, except the serious ones, the ship may be allowed to proceed to a port where any such deficiencies can be rectified. If a ship referred to above, proceeds to sea without complying with the conditions agreed to by the Authority of the port of inspection that Port State Authority should immediately alert the next port, if known, the Flag State and all relevant authorities.
Q. What reporting / correspondences are to be done by PSC authorities?
To Master of ship: Port State authorities should ensure that, at the conclusion of an inspection, the Master of the ship is provided with a document showing the results of the inspection, details of any action taken by the PSCO, and a list of any corrective action to be initiated by the Master and/or company. Such reports should be made in accordance with the format in the appendix.
To Master of ship and Flag State: Where, a foreign ship is denied, entry to the ports or offshore terminals under its jurisdiction, whether or not as a result of information about a substandard ship, it should forthwith provide the Master and Flag State with reasons for the denial of entry.
To Flag State and Recognized Organisation (which have issued the relevant certificates on behalf of the Flag State): In the case of a detention, at least an initial notification should be made to the Flag State Administration as soon as practicable. If such notification is made verbally, it should be subsequently confirmed in writing. As a minimum, the notification should include details of the ship’s name, the IMO number, copies of Forms A and B as set out in the appendix, time of detention and copies of any detention order.
They should also be notified in writing of the release of detention. As a minimum, this information should include the ship’s name, the IMO number, the date and time of release and a copy of Form B as set out in the appendix.
To authorities of the country of the next appropriate port of call, Flag State and Recognized Organization (which have issued the relevant certificates on behalf of the Flag State): If the ship has been allowed to sail with known deficiencies, the authorities of the Port State should communicate all the facts to the authorities stated above.
To IMO: PSC giving rise to detention, should submit to the Organization reports in accordance with SOLAS regulation I/19, article 11 of MARPOL, article 21 of Load Lines, or article X(3) of STCW. Such deficiency reports should be made in accordance with the form given in appropriate appendix or may be submitted electronically by the Port State or a regional PSC regime.
To IMO, Flag State and Recognized Organization (which have issued the relevant certificates on behalf of the Flag State): Copies of such deficiency reports should sent to above authorities.
Q. Where all must the Flag State report after receiving a report on detention?
On receiving a report on detention, the Flag State and, where appropriate, the Recognized Organization through the Flag State Administration, should, as soon as possible, inform the IMO of remedial action taken in respect of the detention which may be submitted electronically by the Flag State to GISIS or in a format shown in the appendix.
Q. What are the various reports listed in the appendices of resolution on PSC?
The various reports and the relevant formats in respect of the Port State Control inspection are as follows:
Appendix 13 Report of inspection in accordance with IMO Port State Control procedures (Form A and B)
Appendix 14 Report of deficiencies not fully rectified or only provisionally repaired.
Appendix 15 Report of action taken to the notifying authority.
Appendix 16 Format for the Report of contravention of MARPOL (article 6).
Appendix 17 Comments by Flag State on detention report.
Q. Can the company appeal against a detention?
As per section 2.3.11 of Chapter 2 IMO resolution 1052(27), the company or its representative have a right of appeal against a detention taken by the Authority of a Port State. The appeal should not cause the detention to be suspended. The PSCO should properly inform the Master of the right of appeal.
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