Port Security Conference

April 28 2003

P&I Club reports inspection results
Of 578 vessels visited by the UK P&I Club's ship inspectors during 2002, the great majority were up to standard.

Some 281 ships (48.5 percent) were given high ratings, with no formal comments on their condition or operations. Some 283 (49 percent) received some comments and suggestions for improvement, mostly on service and maintenance, and on safety standards.

Only 14 vessels---five general cargo ships, four bulk carriers and five container ships---required full condition surveys under the club rules. This was just 2.5 percent of the total inspected. One of these ships has since been scrapped, three remain in breach of the rules with repairs not completed within the time specified, four have been fully cleared, one cleared provisionally and five remain under survey.

Inspections were over five per cent up on 2001 while the proportion of ships incurring no comments at all rose by a similar percentage. Total inspections since the program started in 1990 reached 6,720.

These findings are revealed in the UK Club's 2002 Ship Inspection Report, presented to directors. Members can tap into their own ship visit records on the UK Club's restricted access website and compare their figures with the club's overall and ship type averages.

Inspections took place in the Netherlands, the U.S.A., South Korea, China, Taiwan, Italy, India, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Singapore.

About one-third of visits were to bulk carriers, around 18 percent to tankers, nearly 16 percent to containerships and nine per cent to general cargo vessels. This represented an above average proportion of bulkers and containerships and reflected inspectors' past reports and claims experience.

"It is in everyone's interests that claims incidents are reduced and that ships operate to full commercial potential," says Karl Lumbers, the UK Club's Loss Prevention Program Director. "Ship inspectors' advice not only draws attention to shortcomings which might cause incidents but helps to pre-empt detentions from port state control."

All ships over ten years old are subject to condition survey to enter the club. During 2002, files were opened on 288 ships (255 in 2001), of which 89 (94 in 2001) were subject to recommendations for repairs. Thirteen ships were considered unsuitable for entry following survey.

There were further surveys of entered ships where deficiencies were revealed during claims handling, where serious defects were noted by ship inspectors and when reactivation followed lay-up.

The ship types surveyed included bulkers (27 percent), oil, gas and chemical tankers (21 per cent), general cargo vessels (18 percent), and reefers, containerships, passenger vessels and ro-ros.

Some 29 percent of safety management and cargoworthiness problems related to general cargo ships, 28 percent to bulkers, 14 percent to oil, gas and chemical tankers, eight percent to containerships and seven percent to reefers.

Recommendations for repair focused mainly on the watertight integrity of hatch covers, cargo hatch packing channels, coaming compression bars, quick acting cleats, life saving apparatus and fire fighting equipment.

Of the 89 ships requiring repairs, 42 were over 20 years of age; all but six were classed with an IACS member; and 14 were flagged with Malta, 11 with China, eight with Cyprus and seven each with Russia and Turkey.

The UK Club was the leading P&I insurer of tankers with nearly 900 vessels on its books in 2002 and a market share of 23 per cent. Both the oil majors and independent owners and operators were well represented. Around two-thirds were crude or product carriers. The crude carriers averaged 12.6 years old, marginally less than the world figure. For product carriers, the average age was 15.4 years compared with a world fleet average age of 20 years.

Single hull tankers account for 307 of the total. Given the recent high profile tanker disasters, the Club has stepped up its inspection level for these vessels.

UK Club ships were known to have been detained by Port State Control authorities around the world at least 192 times in 2002, with 548 declared deficiencies between them. The figure should increase as further information seeps through.

Bulk carriers accounted for some 40 percent of detentions---twice their Club entry proportion. General cargo ships also had detention rates which compared unfavorably with their total entry while oil and chemical tankers and passenger ships had relatively good records.

The most frequent sources of PSC detentions arose from oily water separators, lifeboat equipment, fire fighting equipment, ISM shortcomings, officer certification, cargo hatch and hold deficiencies, maintenance of ships' equipment and accommodation, navigational charts, weather deck structure, statutory certification, fire flaps and life saving apparatus.

The club's inspectors were again particularly concerned about the lifeboat deficiencies, the increase in officer certification problems----possibly due to STCW 95 coming into force----and hatch cover and hold shortcomings. However, only three ships were apparently detained for pollution response plan deficiencies.

The inspectors are working on a system for advising members about their ships' exposure to PSC detention.

Lloyd's Register, Bureau Veritas, Germanischer Lloyd, NKK, the Russian Maritime Register, CCS and RINA produced more detentions than their entry would suggest. So did the Cyprus and Turkey flags, followed by Panama, Liberia, Malta and Greece. Some 70 per cent of detentions were for three days or less and six per cent for 10 days or more.

"UK Club ship detention and deficiencies steadily increased between 1996 and 2000, probably more as a result of PSC regimes coming under pressure to meet target inspection levels than deteriorating quality of ships," noted Lumbers. "However, this upward trend seems to have peaked with levels for the past two years slightly down."

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