August 18, 2005
USCG issues ISM NVIC
If you operate foreign-flag ships and the U.S. is in their travel plans, you should click here http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/nvic/ISM%20NVIC.pdf to download the U.S. Coast Guard's most recent NVIC (Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular) on Port State Control Guidelines for the Enforcement of Management for the Safe Operation of Ships (ISM Code).
It gives Coast Guard personnel instructions on how to enforce the requirements of the ISM Code. Comfortingly, it says that "because of the general and non-prescriptive nature" of the ISM requirements, Port State Control Officers "should use discretion when evaluating compliance and considering enforcement." The Captain of the Port should not delay a ship or take penalty actions unless major non-conformities are identified. And "requirements for corrective action should offer adequate time to allow corrective action."
That said, the NVIC gives extensive guidance on what may indicate a major non-conformity. It also discusses some of the conditions that may lead the Port State Control Officer to require an expanded examination. of the ship's SMS (safety managment System).
The NVIC gives guidance on conducting an expanded examination that includes tables giving examples of questions the Port State Control Officer may ask the Captain and key crew members during an Expanded Exam. ("Captain, what is the definition of a non-conformity in your SMS?")