By Mayuresh Jayade, Sr. Superintendent / DPA, Group Marine-Safety
All vessels, irrespective of type, are subject to regular inspections.
A number of these inspections are statutory in nature which are intended to verify that a vessel is compliant to rules and regulations e.g. Port State Control or Flag State Control inspections, whereas other inspections may be required to keep the vessel commercially acceptable for trade such as OCIMF SIRE, CDI, Right Ship Inspections.
For a vessel to be tradeable , it is essential that both, the statutory as well as the commercial inspections are given equal importance in terms of preparations.
Inspection questionnaires typically include a wide spectrum of verification checks such as the certification of the vessel, structural assessment, emergency preparedness, operational readiness of emergency critical equipment and crew competency, to ensure required proficiency in shipboard tasks.
Statutory inspections may last anywhere between a few minutes to a full day, depending on whether it is a basic, concentrated or expanded inspection.
The commercial inspections follow standards adopted by a governing body such as OCIMF and typically last between 10 to 12 hours.
Inspections can be very strenuous on a ship’s crew as they are conducted concurrently with cargo operations and must be attended within available resources. That is why it is always prudent to ensure proactive preparations, whether or not an inspection is scheduled at a port of call.
The Compliance to Safety Management System (SMS) is the single largest successful method to ensure a vessel remains ready in all aspects for these different types of inspection.
Thome’s SMS (TMS) contains detailed guidance on how to perform various operational tasks onboard. Forms and checklists are available to record the actions taken and serve as objective evidence during any inspection. Familiarization with the TMS is therefore an indispensable task for every seafarer on Thome managed vessels.
The Master has overall responsibility to ensure effective implementation of the TMS onboard vessels.
This is further supplemented by shipboard periodic inspections by crew and also by vessel managers, MHSSEQ Superintendents, during their vessel visits. Checklists are developed to cover all identified processes and scope of the inspection.
The condition and general appearance of the hull, weather deck, machinery and accommodation spaces, the operational status of life saving and fire-fighting appliances, safety during cargo and navigation operations, are to be verified during internal preparatory checks and any defects must be rectified promptly or brought to the attention of the office for further action immediately.
Proficiency of the officer and crew in delivering their duties is also a prerequisite for a successful outcome of any inspection. Giving a good first impression is always vital for a successful inspection
Preparation for an inspection is a team effort and requires the full attention and cooperation of all onboard.