role of the government nautical surveyor
Deputy Chief Nautical Surveyor, Danish Government Ship Inspection Service
Examination of new tonnage SHIPPING AND SHIPBUILDING are both industries which, due to their international character, to a great extent gave gained an advantage from the endeavors which have been brought forward by the international organizations such as IMO and ILO in preparing accepted standards for the construction, equipment and operation of ships.
It is a general obligation of contracting governments to undertake that all laws and regulations, etc., necessary for the effective implementation of conventions are promulgated. The ultimate aim is that a ship, from a safety point of view, is fit for the service for which it is intended; from a social point of view, offers healthy working and living conditions; and does not present any threat of harm to the marine environment.
The basis for the implementation of internationally agreed conventions on safety of ships in Denmark is the Safety of Ships, etc, Act. In pursuance of this Act, the Ministry of Industry has issued an order which authorizes the director of the Danish Government Ships Inspection Service to stipulate technical regulations on the construction and equipment of ships.
When the regulations contained in the annexes to IMO conventions have to be adapted to national legislation, it is found that even if the relevant sub-committee, when drafting, has endeavored to be as detailed as possible, the phrase ‘to the satisfaction of the Administration’ appears from time to time. This is quite natural in a forum where so many countries have to come to a compromise. In the Danish administration it has, in these instances, been found necessary and appropriate to complement the convention text with the national interpretations printed in italics.
In the process of adapting the international standards to national legislation it is considered of great importance to have close contact with all relevant parts of the industry and organizations. Having finalized and implemented the subsidiary part of the legislation, the provisions of the Safety of Ships, etc., Act are operational.
Documentation It should be noted that in addition to the preparation of national standards (adaptation of international standards), all the appropriate documentation required needs to be prepared and available to all concerned at the same time as the legislation enters into force. In this connection it is worth mentioning that a minor thing such as a list of material and equipment approved for use on board (Danish) ships very much facilitates the work of the industry as well as the administration.
The subsidiary legislation should contain provisions according to which the ship-owner or yard at the earliest possible stage has to submit to the administration all information, drawings and plans, necessary for the administration to carry out plan approval.
In practice, this obligation for the owner/yard requires that the administration at the request of the owner/yard submits an ‘information and drawing list’ for the size and type of ship in question. Leaving it to the discretion of the yard/owner to submit the relevant drawings, the administration may either receive drawings which are insufficient to form the basis for preapproval or the administration may receive such an amount of ‘paper’ that vital details may be ignored.
During the monitoring of a new building as well as during the process of plan approval those parts of the ship which naturally fall within the scope of work to be done by the Nautical Surveyor are mainly: lifesaving appliances, shipborne navigational equipment (including radar and ARPA); lights, shapes, means of making sound signals and distress signals; and fire-extinguishing appliances on deck. As far as radar and ARPA are concerned, it may in some administrations be radio surveyors or employees from the tele-administrations who deal with that part of the equipment, since the radar formally ‘belongs’ to the Safety Radio Certificate. However, the conference on the revision of Solas and the Load Lines Convention will probably, with the revision of Chapter I of Solas, result in the radar being transferred’ to the Safety Equipment Certificate.
Only a few parts of the traditional equipment which is required on board are as closely connected to the safety of the crew and passengers as are the lifesaving appliances. They are the last resort, when the requirements of all other parts of the ship have proved insufficient to support the view of the ship being the best lifeboat. A systematic approach to safeguard human lives depends upon: technology (the rules), personnel (the crew); and procedures (periodical surveys). It is in the interaction of these elements the causes of accidents have to be found. Safety is achieved by establishing some ‘defense lines’ against envisaged hazards. As the first line of defense, one may consider proper design and technology which requires adequate rules. As the second line of defense one may consider in-service training, muster and drills, carried out by the crew. And as the third line of defense one may consider the
Periodical surveys which are carried out, after it has been ascertained that the rules of construction, etc., are complied with. Safety improvements may, according to the circumstances, be obtained by adequate change in the three elements. By changing the order, certain effects will occur in the other elements. However, they must all three be complied with to achieve the ultimate aim.
Following the tacit acceptance procedure which applies to the Solas Convention, except Chapter I, the revised requirements with respect to lifesaving appliances apply to ships the keels of which were laid or which were at a similar stage of construction on or after July 1986. Although the revised Chapter III has been in force only for a short period, it is possible to comment, at least in general, on major parts of the revised LSA requirements.
The basic philosophy and proposed layout for the revised Chapter III were described by the Maritime Safety Committee at its 30th session as follows:
1. The main objective of Chapter III is that of providing adequate lifesaving systems at sea. In order to achieve this it is desirable to define the types of casualties which should be considered important, both with regard to severity and the frequency with which they occur.
2. Consequently, as a background material for the priorities which have to be given with regard to requirements for a lifesaving system, casualty statistics qualifying ship and environmental conditions should be available. If not, at least a good knowledge of predominant ship casualties must be available. 3. On this basis general functional requirements and objectives for a lifesaving system should be established. These should be qualitative requirements regardless of ship type or type of equipment, and be present in Part B or Chapter III.
4. The functional requirements should then be considered for different ship types, sizes and trades, etc., whichever characteristics are of importance for a translation of requirements into functional criteria. Such criteria should form Part C of Chapter III, forming the qualitative basis toward which lifesaving equipment should be designed. These criteria thus define the standards for lifesaving equipment dependent on its utilization.
5. These functional criteria can normally not be incorporated in one appliance only, without causing too many compromises. It may therefore be necessary to equip a ship with different types of lifesaving appliances which together forma lifesaving system in compliance with the criteria. Part D of Chapter III should therefore contain the detailed definition of various appliances and the specific requirements both with regard to the appliance itself and to possible special arrangements or design on board the ships. This means that the requirements for a lifesaving appliance may vary with ship type, etc. 6. Such a layout of Chapter III should accommodate new designs, ensuring that these are evaluated as pertinent to their actual use on board a vessel.
The improvements in the revised requirements can mainly be divided into four parts: the new equipment which provides seafarers with an increased probability of survival; procedures for standardization of requirements, provision for the acceptance of novel appliances; and crew training, muster and drills.
Cargo ships of 85m in length and above shall be fitted with totally enclosed lifeboats. The administration may, however, permit cargo ships (except oil tankers chemical tankers and gas carriers) operating under favorable climatic conditions and in suitable areas, to carry self-righting partially enclosed lifeboats, provided the limits of the trade area are specified in the Cargo Ship Safety Equipment Certificate. Passenger ships shall be fitted with either partially enclosed lifeboats, self-righting partially enclosed life-boats or totally enclosed lifeboats. Chemical tankers and gas carriers carrying cargoes emitting toxic vapors or gases shall be fitted with lifeboats with a self-contained air support system. Tankers (oil, chemical and gas) carrying cargoes having a flashpoint not exceeding 60°C (closed cup test) shall be fitted with fire-protected lifeboats also having a self-contained air support system. Passenger ships of 500 gt and over shall carry at least one rescue boat on each side of the ship. Cargo ships and passenger ships of less than 500 gt shall carry at least one rescue boat. Embarkation shall be with the lifeboat in the stowed position on cargo ships. Immersion suits and thermal protective aids shall be carried.
Totally enclosed lifeboats offer far greater protection than the open ones. Many, if not the majority of, deaths at sea have been caused by exposure, and for this reason enclosed lifeboats are a great step forward. They do, however, require information to be given by surveyors to crew members about the importance of wearing safety belts and having all hatches closed, if the boat is to retain its self-righting capability. That seasickness is more likely to occur is just considered as an unpleasant experience compared to exposure.
Compared with open lifeboats, which for many years to come will still be found on board tankers, the requirements as to the new lifeboats, which have to be fitted aboard chemical tankers and gas carriers (self-contained air support system) and oil tankers, etc., carrying cargoes having a flashpoint not exceeding 60°C (fire-protected), constitute nothing less than a revolution.
That the revised requirements ended up with the possibility of cargo ships (except oil tankers, chemical tankers and gas carriers) operating under favorable conditions being fitted with partially enclosed lifeboats, seems to be one of the rare instances at IMO where the need for obtaining a compromise has led to a solution for which the practical justification seems hard to find.
The amount of detail in the revised Chapter III is much greater than in the previous version. That it should be possible to achieve a higher degree of standardization between the national regulations of different administrations. Besides, the revised chapter contains a provision requiring administrations, before giving approval to lifesaving appliances and arrangements, to ensure that they are tested in accordance with the IMO recommendations. The Recommendation on Testing of Lifesaving Appliances (res.A521 (13)) has thereby been made mandatory. The probability exists that the reciprocal acceptance of appliances in the future will be facilitated between administrations. This is of importance not only to those manufacturing and selling lifesaving appliances, but also upon transfer of a tip from one flag to another.
Acceptance of novel appliances
Even if the revised chapter contains a provision as to the approval of novel lifesaving appliances or arrangements, it is doubtful whether any ship-owner or manufacturer will find it tempting to embark on major projects of that kind. First, some of the already existing arrangements, which with regard to the ‘old’ chapter III would be considered as novel, have been included in the revised chapter—e.g., free fall lifeboats. Second, the costs involved in designing, manufacturing and testing a novel device, without any guarantee as to the economic prospects, will inevitably cause some reluctance on the part of manufacturers.
With the new and sophisticated equipment, proper musters and drills have become even more vital, besides which the drastic reduction in manning which has been seen worldwide in recent years leaves no room for any hands to be idle when an emergency threatens.
It should therefore be noted, that the requirements regarding muster list and emergency instructions, operating instructions, manning of survival craft and supervision, abandon ship training and drills, operational readiness, maintenance and inspections, and drills (passenger ships) apply also to existing ships, without a period of grace.
Surveys and safety certificates
With the entry into force of the Solas Protocol/78 on 1 May, 1981, the provisions concerning inspections and surveys were tightened up. It should be mentioned that additional inspections/surveys were required and nomination of surveyors or recognized organizations to conduct surveys and inspections can only be done if they also are empowered to require repairs to a ship, and carry out inspections and surveys if requested by the appropriate authorities of a port State.
The present Solas 74/78 requirements concerning survey and certificates have been in force for quite some years now, and it seems as if most of the problems arising from the complexity of the system have been overcome by both administrations and ship-owners. However, the variation of certification and survey intervals in different IMO conventions is
Inconvenient for both administrations and ship-owners. As a consequence a harmonized system of surveys and certification was planned in 1988, including Solas 74/78, the Load Line Convention, 1966, and Marpol 73/78, but will not enter into force before 1 February 1992 at the earliest.
Cargo ship safety equipment certificate
According to the provisions of Solas 74/78 the inspection and survey of ships in relation to the convention may be entrusted to surveyors nominated for the purpose or to recognized organizations’. In the implementation of the Solas 74/78 requirements by national Danish legislation it has been decided that the initial survey as to safety equipment has to be carried out by surveyors from the administration. This applies also to ships built abroad. On completion of the survey a Cargo Ship Safety Certificate is issued.
Besides lifesaving appliances, those parts of the ship and its equipment which inter alia are dealt with by the nautical surveyor are shipborne navigational equipment and lights, shapes and means of making sound, and distress signals.
Shipborne navigational equipment
Upon the entry into force of the 1981 amendments to Solas 74 the requirements as to navigational equipment were increased significantly; they cover such items as:
• Gyro and magnetic compasses.
• Radar installations.
• Automatic radar plotting aids.
• Devices to indicate speed and distance (log).
• Rudder angle indicators.
• Propeller revolution indicators.
• Rate-of-turn indicators.
The requirement that the equipment has to be type approved by the administration requires resources which only a few administrations have available. Having overcome the problems in connection with the type approval, the field surveyor still has to make sure that the installation of the equipment has been carried out satisfactorily. This comprehensive job can hardly be carried out without the surveyor being present during a sea trial. As an example reference could be made to the performance standards for automatic pilots (resolution A.342 (IX),) where it is prescribed:
2.1. Within limits related to a ship’s maneuverability the automatic pilot, in conjunction with its source of heading information, should enable a ship to keep a preset course with minimum operation of the ship’s steering gear.
2.2. The automatic pilot equipment should be capable of adapting to different steering characteristics of the ship under various weather and loading conditions, and provide reliable operation under prevailing environmental and normal operational conditions.
The ability of the automatic pilot to comply with para. 2 is dependent on the hull, rudder, propeller and the ship’s horsepower, and cannot be a part of the type approval, since these factors differ from ship to ship. A verification of compliance with the
Performance standards should consequently require a sea trial, even under different wind and sea conditions.
Lights, shapes and sound signals
The exemptions given during a nine year period in Reg. 38 of the International Convention for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972 expired on 14 July 1986.
From that date where applicable the vertical and horizontal positioning and spacing of lights have to be in accordance with Annex I and the technical details of sound signal appliances have to comply with Annex III of Colreg 72.
Being satisfied that all applicable requirements are complied with, the surveyor can issue a Cargo Ship Safety Certificate. During the survey, close cooperation should exist with surveyors of other categories, mainly the engine surveyor in order to ensure that the requirements as to the ship’s fire-fighting capability are met.
Administrations have to a great extent delegated the statutory surveys (renewal), mandatory annual surveys and intermediate surveys of tankers ten years of age and over to classification societies. The concept of unscheduled inspections is not being practiced. It should be noted that following the 14th Assembly, revised guidelines on surveys required by the 1978 Solas protocol, the International Bulk Chemical Code, and the International Gas Carrier Code have been issued.
It should be emphasized that, regardless of the work being delegated, the administration in every case shall fully guarantee the completeness and efficiency of the inspection and survey, and shall undertake to ensure the necessary arrangements to satisfy this obligation.
Port State inspections
Looking back to search for the causes leading to international and regional action on substandard ships, it is plain that there were several roots from which it all began. It was in particular following the Amoco Cadiz casualty that the European countries realized that preventive action against substandard ships would have to be given priority. It had become a political matter.
The term ‘substandard ship’ has been used in many instances in a way giving rise to misunderstanding and misinterpretation. In this context, reference is made to section 3 of IMO Resolution A. 466 (XII), to Article 4 of ILO Convention No. 147 and section 3.7. of the Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control, 1982.
Since the official definitions of a sub-standard ship are given in very general terms, a few examples to illustrate circumstances that will inevitably qualify a ship as ‘substandard’ should be mentioned:
• Launching of life boats not possible due to absence of greasing, accumulation of paint and failure to carry out regular drills.
• Emergency fire pump inoperative.
• A ship staying in a Scandinavian port during the winter season is found to have no accommodation heating system.
Reasons for substandard ships
No introduction into the complex problem of sub-standard ships would be complete unless it includes the reasons behind the phenomenon. Without ranking such reasons, and without pretending to draw up a complete list of them, it is safe to say that the underlying reasons include the following:
• (Old) age of the ship.
• Lacking (or no) operational control by the ship owning company.
• Lacking (or no) training of officers and/or crew.
• Lacking (or no) supervision on part of the flag State.
Varied are the reasons for substandard ships, and so are the responsibilities for combating the phenomenon. The responsibility rests mainly with:
a) The international organizations such as IMO and ILO, whose task includes the preparation and adoption of relevant safety standards.
b) The flag State which has the primary responsibility for the effective implementation of the standards embodied in the relevant conventions.
c) The ship-owner-he must ensure the safe and seaworthy condition of his ship as well as her safe manning (it is provided that the ship’s flag State has transformed into national law the provisions of the relevant conventions).
d) The master, who bears the full responsibility for the observance aboard his ship of operational and safety standards.
e) Every crew member-last but not least.
The following instruments include the right and the obligation for the port State to verify that foreign ships and their crew comply with the relevant standards: ILO No. 147, Article 4; Solas 74/78, Chapter I, Reg. 19; STCW, 1978, Article X; Marpol 73/78, Article 5; and ILLC, 1966, Article 21.
The subject of port State inspections is covered in the chapter by Captain R. L. Newbury on page 51.
Incidents and investigations
The obligation for administrations to conduct an investigation after any serious marine casualty or incident is included in the following conventions: Solas 74/78, Chapter I, Regulation 21; Marpol 73/78, Article 6; LLC, 1966, Article 23; and ILO No 147, Article 2 (g). Further, the Memorandum of Under-standing on Port Stale Control in Section 5 imposes the obligation for the participating administrations to co-operate in securing evidence relating to suspected violations of the requirements on operational matters of Rule 10 of Colreg and Marpol 73/78.
As far as Marpol 73/78 and the Memorandum are concerned the investigation may also be carried out with respect to foreign ships. However, the legal action towards the ship/master, according to the above conventions, has to be taken by the flag administration.
Apart from the interest of the flag State to prosecute suspected violations of national legislation, investigations are additionally conducted to supply the organization with all pertinent information concerning the findings of such investigations in order that they are able to determine possible changes in the conventions. Due to the experience gained during many years at sea as mate and possibly as master, the contribution of the nautical surveyor in connection with investigations of marine casualties and operational violations is invaluable.
Health and safety
The idea of health and safety taken in general is a very comprehensive one and might in fact form the basis of a complete syllabus. The following brief reference to the topics is not thought to be complete and will with respect to safety be limited to operational safety and as to health to medical care and examination.
A precondition for obtaining safe working conditions aboard a ship, as well as ashore, is all groups and individual members of the crew taking an active part in the prevention of occupational hazards. The primary responsibility rests with the master, chief engineer and the senior officers. However, full support from all crew members can be expected only if a mandatory system is set up through which appointed members of the crew can inform the master, etc., about all minor and major hazards, to which they feel exposed, without corrective action has been taken.
Records of meetings in this committee for accident prevention should be kept in the ship’s file. During inspections the surveyor should go through the records and consult crew members representing the
Various categories of the crew, in order to ensure that requests regarding hazards that may exist in their daily work aboard the ship have been taken appropriate care of. All complaints regarding conditions on board should be investigated thoroughly and action taken as deemed necessary by the circumstances. It is impracticable to mention all the items to which attention should be paid. As examples the following items fall within the scope of the nautical surveyor:
• Safe means of access to the ship.
• Safety measures on and below deck.
• Loading and unloading equipment.
• Dangerous cargo and ballast.
• Personal protective equipment for seafarers.
If deficiencies or operational circumstances give rise to a serious hazard to the safety or health of persons on board, the surveyor shall take appropriate action to remove the hazard by requiring rectification of the deficiency or prohibiting continuation of the operation. In Annex 1 to the Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control, comprehensive guidelines have been given to the surveyors on this issue when carrying out port State control. These guidelines are based on ILO Convention No. 134 on Prevention of Accidents.
Medical care and examination
Medical certificates are required for persons who are employed in any capacity on board a ship. In ILO Convention No. 73 on the Medical Examination of Seafarers, small ships as well as certain categories of seafarers are exempted from the provisions. In addition, being a statement as to the general health of the seafarer, the certificate shall attest that the person, concerned is fit by reason of hearing and sight. For persons to carry out deck watch keeping duties, it shall
Attest that the colour vision is satisfactory. The certificate shall not be older than two years and as regards colour vision not older titan six years from the date of issue.
Annex 1 to the Memorandum also includes detailed guidelines on this topic to be followed by the surveyor in connection with port State control. These guidelines could, as well as those previously mentioned on occupational safety, be adopted when carrying out flag State control.
ILO Conventions No. 73 and No. 134 are two of the conventions under the umbrella of ILO No. 14-7
On Minimum Standards for on Minimum Standards for Merchant Shipping, which is one of the major—if not the most important—of the maritime conventions adopted by the International Labour organization.
Considering the authority which Iies in the hands of a surveyor, it should be evident that one of his first duties, when boarding a ship, is to report to the master or his representative. Without being requested he should present evidence that he is duly authorized by the administration to carry out the survey and investigation required by him.