Port State Control(PSC) is an internationally accepted rule for the survey of the foreign ships in other national ports by PSC inspectors. The scope of these PSC officers is to find compliance with the conditions of the international conventions, such as SOLAS, MARPOL, STCW, & the MLC. Surveys can include inspecting that the vessel is manned & operated in accordance with the applicable international law, & verifying the competency of the ship’s master & officers, and the ship’s condition & equipment.
- All ships engaged in commercial trading need to be registered in a Country which identifies its owners. The Country where registration is done is termed as the ‘Flag State’. It is the duty of the Flag State to assure that a vessel authorized to fly its flag is safely built, equipped & properly maintained & manned as per applicable regulations based on the International Conventions formed by the International Maritime Organization. For this purpose the Flag state performed surveys & Inspections on the ships under its Registry for issue of various statutory Certificates. These Certificates are obligatory for the ships, intended trading. Many developed Maritime nations have appropriate Maritime authorities to tackle this task while many others who don’t have the capacity for the various reasons, assign authority to recognized Classification Societies to perform most of such surveys & issue Certificates on their behalf.
- Ships trade internationally and have to call at various ports all over the world. Many vessels may not call at any of their home ports for a notable period & it is possible that during some period of time vessels Certificates may not have been renewed in general has experienced due to various reasons. Therefore, it is imperative that ships must be inspected at various ports to assure agreement with rule conditions as regards safety, maintenance, manning, etc. This control is called as Port State Control.
- The Fundamental motive of the PSC is to get rid of sub-standard ships in order to ensure safer ships and cleaner oceans. The main idea to the port state control is to find sub-standard ships at any port & restorative action taken before they are permitted to sail. Provision for control arise from the following IMO instruments:-
- Reg. 19 – Chapter 1 of the SOLAS Convention 1974 as amended.
- International Convention of the Load Line 1966 & its Protocol.
- International Convention for Prevention of Marine Pollution from the ships (MARPOL) 73/78.
- International Convention of the STCW 1978 as amended.
- International Regulations for preventing Collisions at the sea (COLREG) 1972.
- International Labour organization (ILO) convention No. 147.
These services provided for the control process to be followed by the member states with regard to the foreign flag ships coming to their ports. The successful use of the provisions allow the State Authorities in identifying Sub-Standard Ships & ensuring that remedial measures are taken for the deficiencies identified by them. Vessels of the countries which are not member to the various International Conventions can also be put through equivalent inspections to assure comparable level of safety. The IMO has accepted various resolutions giving recommendations on such inspections. The recommendations also provide that all possible attempt should be made to avert a ship being unduly detained or delayed. But, wherever necessary Sub-Standard Ships are detained & restorative action taken before enabling them to sail out to sea.
- In order to implement effective Port State Control, 15 EEC countries signed a MOU in March 1978 at Paris which enforced in the year 1982. Similarly, 10 Latin American countries signed an agreement in November in the year 1992. A short time ago Asia Pacific MOU has been signed by the 17 countries of the Asia Pacific. Thus practical all major maritime states are party to one agreement or the other for enactment of PSC. There are proposals before the govt. of India that India should also join the Asia Pacific MOU on PSC or alternatively develop MOU on Port State Control in Indian ocean region. India has taken advantage for the latter.
- Generally it is not very simple to determine a substandard ship simply by the reference to the list of qualifying defects. The Surveyor has to use his professional experience to find whether the ship is to be hold up till the deficiencies are rectified. Parties may conduct a survey depends on their initiative or at the request of, or on the basis of information provided by the another party, professional body, port authorities or even crew of the ship. The Surveyor boards the ship & after introduction to the Master proceeds further to inspect the various certificates concerning their validity, annual endorsements & any neglected deficiencies or condition of the class. The Surveyor assures, that various provisions stated in the IMO Conventions are maintained up-to-date & in case of any deficiency he may not permit the ship to sail until the defects are rectified. In case an involvement by the Port State is required & vessel is hold up due to serious defects the authorities is required to inform the Embassy or Consulate of the Flag State & the Classification Society with which the ship is classed. In the meantime this information along with list of deficiencies is also to be pass on to the IMO for further action. IMO in turn check the Information & forward the same to the associated Flag State for terminating deficiencies in future. The report received from the Maritime authorities around the world concerning Indian vessels are inspected by the Maritime authorities of the country & appropriate steps are taken up to enhance the overall deficiency of the ship in consultation with the concerned shipping companies.