Port State Control

Port State Control (PSC): The main purpose is to weed out sub standard ships from the Market, thereby protecting lives and environment “Control” of foreign flag ships visiting their Port states is known as Port State Control.
All countries have the right to inspect ships of foreign flags visiting their ports to ensure that they meet IMO requirements regarding safety and pollution prevention standards, provided the port state itself has ratified the same IMO instruments for implementing the same on board ships of their own flag.

  • Even if that Country has not ratified, the IMO Conventions, they have a legal right to control the foreign ship, if they have a fear that their properties (Marine Assets) or their environment are likely to be affected by the foreign ship
  • Control in the real sense means, Inspection to Detention of the ship               
  • Regulations under which PSC is applicable (i.e. the legal background giving the right to inspect foreign flag ships)
  • International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended (SOLAS’74), and Protocol of 1988 relating to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended (SOLAS Protocol 1988) [Regulation 19 of Chapter I of SOLAS 74, as modified by the SOLAS Protocol 88,  regulation 6.2 of Chapter IX and regulation 4 of Chapter XI of SOLAS 74]
  • International Convention on Load Lines, 1966(Load Lines 66), and Protocol of 1988 relating to the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966(Load Line Protocol 88) [Article 21]

International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973 as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto, as amended(MARPOL 73/78) [Articles 5 and 6, regulation 8A of Annex I, regulation 15 of Annex II, regulation 8 of Annex III and regulation 8 of Annex V]
International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers, 1978, as amended (STCW 78) [Article X] International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships, 1969(Tonnage 69) [Article 12] Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972 International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention no. 147/Merchant Shipping (Minimum Standards) Convention 1976 {Guidance on the conduct of such control inspections is given in the ILO publication, Inspection of Labour Conditions on Board Ships: Guidelines for Procedure}

  • The Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006)
  • The International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships, 2001
  • The International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunkers Pollution Damage, 2001 (Bunkers Convention)
  • Protocol of 1992 to amend the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution   Damage, 1969 (CLC Protocol 1992)
  • International Safety Management (ISM) Code
  • International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code

Note:Even if your ship is from a flag which is not party to the convention or the size of your ship is smaller than the sizes mentioned in the conventions, PSC will make sure that equivalent surveys and inspections are carried out and, an equivalent level of safety and protection of the marine environment are ensured. If the ship or crew has some form of certification other than that required by a Convention, PSC can find out its equivalence. The conditions of and on such a ship and its equipment and the certification of the crew and the Flag State’s minimum manning standards ought to be compatible with the aims of the provisions of the conventions.

“No more favourable treatment” (NMFT) shall be given to the ships flying the flag of a country which is not a Party to a Convention. (If interested, the reader may refer to Article II(3) of the Protocol of 1978 to SOLAS 1974, article 5(4) of MARPOL 73/78, and article X(5) of STCW 78).
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on PSCThere are several MOUs on PSC, that are signed by a particular group of countries, virtually covering the major seas of the world to weed out the sub standard ships. These include, the Tokyo MOU, Paris MOU, Vina del Mar MOU, Caribbean MOU, Mediterranean MOU, Indian Ocean MOU, Abuja MOU, Black sea MOU and the Riyadh MOU. If all the MOUs perform effectively, uneven competition between ports (some of which may permit entry of substandard ships) is brought to a minimum.
The common objectives that are meant to be achieved by the MOUs could be as follows, e.g.:-

  • Tokyo MOU: to establish an effective PSC regime in the Asia-Pacific region through cooperation of its members and harmonization of their activities, for eliminating substandard shipping so as to promote maritime safety, to protect the marine environment and to safeguard working and living conditions on board ships.
  • Paris MOU: to commonly agree on, (a) commitments for meeting the provisions of the relevant international maritime related Conventions; (b) inspection procedures and the investigation of operational procedures; (c) exchange of information, and (d) the structure of the organization and amendment procedures.

Each of the aforesaid nine MOUs have customized procedures for targeting substandard ships, appeal procedures, detention reviews, evaluation of performance parameters etc..
Most of the MOUs run special inspection programmes on specific shipboard-operational-areas and for a specific period of time. These inspection programmes are termed as “Concentrated Inspection Campaigns”(CIC), i.e. an additional inspection programme. For example, the maritime authorities of Paris, Tokyo, Black Sea and Indian Ocean MOUs on PSC had announced that they would be running their CICs from 1st September 2016 until 30th November 2016. Paris MOU ran a CIC on the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006(MLC, 2006), addressing the implementation of minimum standards for working and living conditions on board. Tokyo, Black Sea and Indian Ocean MOUs had focussed on the fulfilment of the on-board procedures pertaining to Cargo Securing Arrangements.
Please Note that, USA, which is not a member of any PSC-MOU, but verifies that all foreign vessels operating in the US waters are in substantial compliance with the international maritime Conventions.

  • Basis of PSC inspections
  • The initiative of the Party;
  • The request of, or on the basis of, information regarding a ship provided by another Party; or
  • 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.

PSC inspections are carried out: only by officers (PSCO) duly authorized by the Port State. This authorization of PSCOs may be a general grant of authority or may be specific on a case by case basis.

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