Ships under control. PSC inspectors ensure the safety of crews, ships and the environment

By Marek Grzybowski

In accordance with the Paris MOU, the Tokyo MOU and the United States Coast Guard (USCG), a total of four hundred eighty-eight (488) vessels were detained in the first quarter of 2024. Of those detained, only thirty-one (31) ships were ABS certified, the American Bureau of Shipping recently said in a recent report.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced in May that four foreign-flagged vessels had been detained in UK ports in April after failing a Paris MOU Port State Control (PSC) inspection. (MCA). Seven ships flying foreign flags were detained in British ports, four ships in February and two ships in March.
For comparison, in the Pacific and Asia region, 30,887 inspections were carried out on ships registered under 101 flags in 2023. Inspections in this region are carried out in accordance with the principles set out by the Tokyo MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding On Port State Control In The Asia-Pacific Region). Out of a total of 27,544 ships operating in the region in 2023, the inspection rate in the region was approximately 66%, according to the Tokyo MOU secretariat in a report published in 2024.
– A ship is detained when the condition of the ship or its crew does not materially comply with applicable conventions. Such decisive action is intended to ensure that the ship cannot sail until the defects are rectified and it is determined that there is no risk to the ship or persons on board and/or the ship does not present an unreasonable risk of causing damage. in the marine environment – the Tokyo MOU report emphasizes.

30 years of Tokyo MOU
– 2023 marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Tokyo Memorandum of Understanding on the PSC. We are very proud of the significant development and great achievements achieved by the Tokyo MOU over the past 30 years. We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Port State Control Committee, the Tokyo MoU authorities and all PSC inspectors for their efforts, contributions and work towards the safety of navigation. Additionally, we would like to welcome Mexico as the 22nd Member Authority of the Tokyo MOU this Memorial Year, write Kenny Crawford, Chairman of Port State Control, and Kubota Hideo, Secretary of the Tokyo MOU Committee, in the introduction to the report.
Inspectors’ reports show that in 2023, 1,334 ships registered under 71 flags were detained in Asia-Pacific ports due to the detection of serious defects. The detention rate of inspected vessels was 4.32%. On this basis, a list of flags is created for ships that pose a threat to seafarers and the environment. This is the Blacklist. There are also gray and white lists.
– The black-gray-white list for 2021-2023 contains a set of 62 flags. – There are 11 flags on the Tokyo MOU blacklist, which is almost three times as many as in 2022 – inform the authors of the report. There are 19 flags on the gray list, three flags more than last year. There are 32 flags on the white list, four less than a year earlier. The list of ships in non-compliance with the regulations set out in the Tokyo MOU (i.e. ships detained three or more times in the last twelve months) is published monthly. In 2023, a total of 133 vessels were identified as underperforming.

ABS guards safety
ABS emphasizes that “PSC inspections have proven to be an effective tool for eliminating end-of-life, substandard vessels, which may impact maritime safety and the marine environment.” The ship itself, its devices and equipment, as well as the ship’s and crew’s documents are subject to inspection.
According to the regulations, “A ship is considered to be substandard if the hull, machinery, equipment, accommodation, operational safety and environmental protection deviate significantly from the standards required by the relevant conventions or if the crew does not meet the requirements of the document regarding the safe manning of the ship with the required qualifications.” If any deviations from the regulations are found, the ship and crew are subject to detailed inspection.
Particular attention shall be paid to whether the equipment and crew generally comply with the requirements set out in the relevant conventions. It is also checked whether the captain and crew members know and can apply basic procedures related to ensuring ship safety and preventing pollution.
If PSC inspectors find deviations, they are recorded as deficiencies that prevent the ship from going to sea and are recommended to be rectified. In the Asia-Pacific region, a total of 75,867 deficiencies were recorded in 2023.
– Fire safety measures, life-saving measures and navigational safety were found to remain the three main categories of irregularities detected on ships – notes the report analyzing the condition of ships inspected in Asia-Pacific ports. In 2023, there were 15,562 deficiencies in fire safety measures, 10,193 deficiencies in life-saving measures and 8,803 deficiencies in navigation safety, representing 46% of the total number of all deficiencies recorded.

Prevention and control
Last year The Tokyo Committee, together with the Paris MoU, conducted a concentrated inspection campaign (CIC) on fire safety. The control and preventive campaign was carried out from September 1 to November 30, 2023. During this time, a total of 8,273 PSC inspections were carried out, of which 7,190 (86.91%) were carried out as part of CIC inspections.
A total of 2,860 CIC-related deficiencies were detected on 1,287 ships, representing 17.90% of CIC inspections. The best ratings were obtained by controlling the ventilation of machinery spaces. The positive result was determined to be 99.69%. According to inspectors, this proves a high level of compliance with the requirements set out in the regulations. The highest level of non-compliance was found in the case of fire drills. 8.44% of exercises that took place within the CIC did not comply with the procedures. A direct result of the firefighting inspection was the detention of 88 ships inspected by CIC.
In 2023, inspections dominated in PRC ports, where over 7.7 thousand inspections were carried out. inspection. Over 3.6 thousand inspections were made in Japanese ports. In Vietnam’s ports, inspectors performed over 2.5 thousand inspections. control, and in Indonesia almost 3.2 thousand Inspections on bulk carriers dominated (almost 40% of inspections). Half as many inspections were carried out on ro-ro ships and container ships (almost 21%). More than 17% of inspections took place on general cargo ships, and almost 13.3% on oil tankers and product carriers.
PSC inspectors mainly had reservations about ships flying the flags of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Tanzania, Cameroon, the Cook Islands and Togo. Ships flying under the first three flags mentioned were distinguished from many others by the defects found that meant that the vessels had to be detained in port.

Ships and crews under surveillance
In the case of ships certified by ABS, in the period from January 1, 2024 to March 31, 2024, the largest number of interventions was recorded on ships of the United States (121 inspections), the PRC (19) and Singapore (13) and the Netherlands (10). In total during this period, 31 ships under ABS supervision were detained. 8 ships were detained in PRC ports, 5 in Australian ports, and 3 ships each in Canadian and Belgian ports.
In the case of ships under ABS supervision, the reason for detaining the ships were irregularities found in the engine room, where the main propulsion engine is located. There were also reservations about the electrical equipment and the safe operation of the auxiliary engines and the emergency power supply. There were also concerns about the operation of fire doors, installations, alarm detectors and fire pumps.
There were also problems with lifesaving equipment, including the proper use of lifeboats. In some cases, PSC inspectors raised concerns about the maintenance of the ship and equipment. Malfunctions of lights and sound signals were observed. There were also cases of incorrect record keeping. “ABS assisted each owner/operator in resolving the deficiencies to enable the PSC detention to be lifted and the vessel to be allowed to go to sea,” ABS emphasizes.
In the case of inspections of ships operating in Asia-Pacific ports, among the deficiencies identified, an important category is irregularities in devices and systems aimed at preventing pollution. In this case, over 6,000 were found. irregularities in 2023
Over 7.2 thousand cases of detected malfunctions resulted in a threat to working and living conditions on the ship. 8.8 thousand detected defects had an impact on the safety of navigation. Almost 10.2 thousand were found in life-saving devices. gross defects. Fire safety measures did not have the appropriate parameters in as many as 15.6 thousand cases. cases. In 2023, over 5.7 thousand were found in cargo spaces. defects that disqualified the ship from going to sea.
The numbers and examples quoted show that there are still ships sailing on the seas that pose a threat to the environment, as well as the crews and cargo on board. Inspections carried out in ports guarantee that vessels with defects or incompletely trained crew will not hit the routes, posing a threat to other ships and the environment. The work of PCS inspectors, most often invisible and not always appreciated, ensures the safety of crews and the surroundings, and often of passengers, beachgoers, and residents of port cities.
sources: Annual Report On Port State Control In The Asia-Pacific Region 2023, ABS Port State Control Quarterly Report Q1 2024