Port State Control





  • All ships engaged in commercial trading need to be registered in a Country which identifies its owners. The Country of registration is termed as the 'Flag State'. It is the duty of the Flag State to ensure that a vessel entitled to fly its flag is safely constructed, equipped and subsequently properly maintained & manned as per relevant regulations based on International Conventions developed by International Maritime Organization. For this purpose the Flag state carries out surveys & Inspections on the vessels under its Registry for issue of various statutory Certificates. These Certificates are mandatory for the vessels, intended trading. Many developed Maritime nations have adequate Maritime Administrative infrastructure to undertake this task while many others who lack this capability for various reasons, delegate authority to recognized Classification Societies to carry out most of such surveys & issue Certificates on their behalf.
  • Ships trade internationally and have to call at various ports all over the world. many ships may not call at any of their home ports for a considerable period and it is possible that during a certain period of time Ship's Certificates may not have been renewed or maintenance in general has suffered due to various reasons. Therefore, it is imperative that ships must be inspected at various ports to ensure compliance with rule requirements as regards safety, maintenance, manning, etc. This control is termed as Port State Control.
  • The Fundamental aim of Port State Control is to eliminate Sub-standard ships in order to ensure safer ships and cleaner oceans. The main philosophy to the port state control is to identify sub-standard ships at any port and corrective action taken before they are allowed to proceed to sail. Provision for control emanates from the following IMO instruments:-

    Reg. 19 - Chapter 1 of SOLAS Convention 1974 as amended.
    International Convention of Load Line 1966 & its Protocol.
    International Convention for Prevention of Marine Pollution from ships (MARPOL) 73/78.
    International Convention of STCW 1978 as amended.
    International Regulations for preventing Collisions at sea (COLREG) 1972.
    International Labour organization (ILO) convention No. 147.

    These provisions provide for control procedures to be followed by the contracting Governments with regard to foreign flag vessels visiting their ports. The effective use of the provisions enable the State Authorities in identifying Sub-Standard Ships and ensuring that remedial measures are taken for the deficiencies identified by them. Ships of the countries which are not party to the various International Conventions can also be subjected to equivalent inspections to ensure commensurate level of safety. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted various Resolutions giving guidelines on such inspections. The guidelines also provide that all possible efforts should be made to avoid a ship being unduly detained or delayed. However, wherever necessary Sub-Standard Ships are detained and corrective action taken before allowing them to sail out to sea.


  • In order to implement effective Port State Control, 15 EEC countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding in March 1978 at Paris which came into force in 1982. Similarly, 10 Latin American countries signed an agreement in November 1992. Recently Asia Pacific Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by 17 countries of Asia Pacific. Thus practical all major maritime countries are party to one agreement or the other for implementation of Port State Control. There are proposals before the Government of India that India should also join the Asia Pacific Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control or alternatively develop Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control in Indian ocean region. India has taken initiative for the latter.
  • Practically it is not very simple to define a substandard ship solely by reference to a list of qualifying defects. The Surveyor has to exercise his professional judgment to determine whether the ship is to be detained until the deficiencies are corrected or allowed to sail with certain deficiencies which are not vital to the safety of the ship, its crew or passengers, having regard to the particular circumstances of the intended voyage. Parties may undertake an inspection based on their initiative or at the request of, or on the basis of information provided regarding a sub-standard ship by another party, professional body, port authorities or even a member of the crew of the ship. The Surveyor boards the ship and after introduction to the Master proceeds to examine the various certificates regarding their validity, annual endorsements and any outstanding deficiencies or condition of class. The Surveyor ensures, that various provisions stated in the IMO Conventions regulations are maintained up-to-date and in case of any defect he may not allow the ship to sail till the deficiencies are corrected. In the event of a dispute, the onus of providing that undue delay was not caused rests with the Port State is Administration. In case an intervention by Port State is necessary and vessel is detained due to serious deficiencies the Administration is required inform the Embassy/Consulate of the Flag State and Classification Society with which the vessel is classed. In due course this information along with list of deficiencies is also to be conveyed to the International Maritime Organization for further action. IMO in turn scrutinizes the Information and forward the same to the concerned Flag State for removing deficiencies in future. The report received from the Maritime authorities around the world regarding Indian vessels are checked by the Maritime Administration of the country and suitable steps are taken up to improve the overall deficiency of the ship in consultation with the respective shipping companies.


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