By Capt. Prashant Sankpal, Marine Manager, Tanker Division
When “Vessel Inspection Questionnaires-version 7” (VIQ7) was launched last year, we saw a major shift in the inspection style and found that inspectors can now ask numerous questions directly to officers / engineers on their knowledge and familiarity with various shipboard systems, cargo operations, navigations practices, navigation equipment, engine room practices and safety management.
This was huge shift in the inspection style compared to the previous version (VIQ6). There are at least 98 questions in VIQ7 starting with “Are officers familiar with” and at least 180 places where the question or guidance is worded as “Are crew familiar with”. This presents many opportunities for inspectors to find weak areas and record observations.
In particular, as per guidance notes under the VIQ questions, “4.14 Are masters and deck officer’s familiar with the operation of the ECDIS system fitted on board?” or “4.15 Is the master and deck officers’ familiar with the safety parameter settings for the ECDIS and have the safety settings been correctly applied for the vessels passage?”, we have noticed inspectors asking masters to demonstrate the operation of the ECDIS and show how they carry out route checking, plot manual fixes, set the safety depths and safety contours.
If masters are unable to satisfactorily answer the inspector’s question, then the ship may end up getting a high-risk observation in Chapter 4 (Navigation) of VIQ7 and this will lead to the vessel getting rejected for business by the oil majors.
We have enough guidance material to face the inspectors and will continue to provide support to ship staff to prepare well for SIRE Inspections, however we want ship staff to read the VIQ7 questionnaire and prepare well for questions where their knowledge, skills and familiarity will be checked.
Remember that “A good SIRE report is our ticket to TRADE” and we will only be able to ensure good business and profitability to our owners if we consistently perform well in our SIRE inspections.