Port State Control inspections are a fact of life in the Mediterranean these days. Countries are taking the enforcement of the laws of the sea much more seriously than they have in the past.
There are a lot of changes to both local and international maritime policies and regulations that need to be adhered to. PSC officers can and will come onboard, with little to no warning, so captains and crew must be ready for any and or all of the following: (This is not maybe; this was done recently and it will be done again to someone you know.)
* Officers will read crew contracts all the way through for compliance with new laws, especially about repatriation and social security payments.
* They want to see licenses and certificates for the captain, first officer, 2nd officer, chief engineer and chief stew. For certain, all crew listed on the MSMD. They are asking for Security Awareness certificates, and they will only accept those in STCW format.
If your crew does not have them in the proper format, I recommend making the application for replacements in STCW format. Regardless of what we may think about all crew needing security training, they will ask for all the crew’s Security Awareness certificates.
As far as I understand, regulations for Security Awareness certificates came into force Jan. 1, 2012, so everyone should have them by now.
* Officers will ask for the last and current passage plans, the registry and all class certificates. And there’s a good chance they will ask to see the guest safety booklet, plus want to inspect three random crew cabins. They will take a look at emergency escapes in the master and guest cabins, crew cabins and engine room. They will check one fire detector head and a bilge alarm.
* Be prepared to empty your cabinets of cleaning products because these are checked as well. They must be MARPOL V approved, yet very few are. There is one product line that covers deck, interior and engine room, plus painted surfaces. It is from a Swedish company and called DI-TECH (www.ditecinternational.com).
The typical inspection continues with a test of watertight doors, galley fixed fire extinguishing system alarms and shut-offs. They will conduct visual inspections of the emergency generator and fire pump, life rafts and the securing method. They may ask for a junior crew member to demonstrate deployment.
Just remember, they have a serious job to do. Respect this, be friendly and listen. Take notes and make a list in front of them to check before they depart.
Get the easy stuff out of the way by just getting on with the changes. Don’t forget it includes the Security Awareness Training for crew who don’t have it. There are good instructors out there and you don’t have to stop everything and attend a fixed school. There are instructors that can come take care of the whole crew on the boat. You can be trained as a team and they’ll help you fine-tune your Ship Security Plan.
There is no place to hide anymore. Just do it.
The Bahamas, mostly the Exumas, have stepped up inspection. The entity doing the boarding is the Bahamian Defense Forces. This is the Bahamian military and they have more staff and more boats with which to chase you down.
Why? To check if you have the owners onboard the boat or if you have a charter.
If you have a charter and you do not have a Foreign Vessel Charter Permit, you can be in a lot of trouble. All foreign-flagged vessels that take passengers out and are compensated for it, no matter what size or for how long, are required by law to have one. This is done at the port offices in Nassau and it takes about a half day of application then a waiting period of one-to-two weeks for the hard copy. (Yachts can conduct charters with a receipt for payment and the number under which to deposit taxes collected from the charter.)
There is a company in Nassau that will handle the whole process and have the paperwork waiting for you to sign as soon as you clear customs there. Find Dion Munnings with Paradise Provisions for more details.
Capt. Herb Magney is a licensed U.S. captain and has run both private and charter motoryachts for the past 10 years. Comments on this are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.