In 2017, port state control inspections rose in countries that abide by the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (a.k.a. Paris MoU). This includes 26 European countries and Canada. In fact, inspections in that area increased by 13 percent compared to 2016, affecting 275 yachts. Furthermore, inspectors detained 22 yachts, an increase of more than 400 percent. And, this is just the beginning, according to Franc Jansen, founding director of JMS Yachting. Here, he shares the top five reasons you risk getting detained.
Port state controls within yachting are on the increase. Yet, some owners and captains still play the probability game. They believe the chances of inspection are slim. But, for me, two inherent flaws are in that logic.
The first is mindset. Port state controls exist purely as an added incentive to run your yacht in accordance with MLC 2006 and international safety requirements. They are not traps. Running a yacht that’s knowingly or even unknowingly deficient in any aspect poses enormous safety risks for all onboard. Never mind the consequences of any control that uncovers them.
The second flaw misses one major fact: Port state controls aren’t random. Inspectors select yachts based on their age, flag, classification society, ISM provider, etc. In addition, the longer a vessel goes without being controlled, the higher up the priority list she goes.
I assume that you care about safety and work hard to maintain MLC and safety requirements. But, I also assume you run a busy yacht. Schedules and plans change almost every day, and your plate is forever full. Even with the best will in the world, some procedures may slip. This, in turn, could result in failing port state controls.
Here, in order from fifth to first, are the top five port state control deficiencies that befell yachts in 2017—and how to avoid them.
5. Freeboard marks. Freeboard marks on the hull need to be in accordance with your yacht’s load line certificate. Also called Plimsoll marks, they’re usually a line indicating the main deck, and a circle with a line with the initial of class, indicating the maximum load line. Removing these marks on aesthetic grounds will land you in deep trouble with port state controls. So, too, will having so much fuel, water, or ballast onboard so that the bottom line is underwater.
4. Continuous synopsis records. All commercial yachts over 500GT need to maintain a continuous synopsis record (CSR). The CSR contains a list of records for the yacht. Each time someone changes a record there, you need to issue a new CSR. So, unlike other certification, where you should remove obsolete certificates as soon as you get a new one, you must maintain a full set of CSRs onboard. CSRs are numbered, so checking accuracy and completion is easy. If any are missing or outdated, immediately contact your flag state.
3. Garbage management plan. Each yacht of 100GT or more and carrying more than 15 people needs a garbage management plan. Yachts exceeding 500GT also need a garbage record. Post placards detailing garbage disposal, and appoint a designated garbage management person. This is usually the chief officer, who delegates to the chef and other crew. Regardless, the people involved need to be able to tell the port state control inspector what’s in the garbage management plan. Reminding crew every now and then, especially during safety meetings, can go a long way to being prepared. Maintain the garbage record book correctly, and always keep receipts. If, for example, a marina doesn’t automatically provide a receipt, your crew can generate one and ask the marina to sign and stamp it before leaving.
2. Charts. You must have updated charts for intended voyages. Even though we see it less and less, don’t send your paper chart folio to a chart correction company once a year while relying on an uncertified electronic chart system. Correcting charts is tedious, but necessary. Plenty of providers have systems available to help ease the burden. More and more yachts have ECDIS, which almost eliminates the issue. However, ECDIS has its own specific requirements as well. Paris, Tokyo, and the Black Sea MoU recently carried out a Concentrated Inspection Campaign (CIC) specifically on ECDIS.
1. Nautical publications. This was the number-one deficiency in yachting in 2017 and, frankly, for most years. You must carry up-to-date nautical publications. The IMO lists the required publications. Flag states may have their own requirements, too. You can find the information on their respective websites. Of course, reputable, experienced yacht managers can guide you, too. In addition, they have systems in place to ensure publications are onboard and up to date. This relieves you of at least one set of worries and responsibilities.
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