Liberia conducts first-ever remote flag-state inspection

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Chief Operating Officer of the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR), Alfonso Castillero

The Liberian Registry is continuing to adjust to the disruptions caused by COVID-19 by leveraging its use of technology and modern communication. Its latest innovation is to implement remote Annual Safety Inspections (ASI) aboard its ships.

The option to use remote inspections is a direct response to the major restrictions faced by dispatching inspectors aboard ships, under the current health guidelines and restrictions around the globe. It is the latest in a series of contingency measures that the registry has implemented in the past few weeks as the coronavirus outbreak has continued.

Liberia was the first flag state to allow remote vessel closings and instrument recordation, and remote classification surveys.

The registry successfully completed the first remote ASI last week. Liberia’s qualified inspection team was able to liaise with the ship’s crew remotely via web-based video communication and review the ASI checklist, check documents, check safety equipment, review drills, and inspect the condition of the vessels and functionality of the safety equipment; all without putting the health of crew and inspector at risk due to possible exposure.

With over ten years of experience in electronic certificates, application systems, and client-focused portals, the registry has always taken technological innovations to the next level.

In addition to allowing the flexibility to extend surveys, drydockings, credentials, and other certificates, the registry says that it understands the important need, and duty of the flag State, to maintain effective oversight over its fleet and ensure the seaworthiness and safety of its vessels and seafarers, and compliance with international conventions.

Accordingly, much effort was put into coming up with a comprehensive remote inspection checklist and procedure.

“I have to applaud our very experienced and knowledgeable Inspections team for their very practical and real-world solution, which ensures that the flag State is able to carry out its obligation of safety oversight of its fleet in a way that is not burdensome to the vessels, nor puts the health of the crew and inspectors in jeopardy,” says Alfonso Castillero, Chief Operating Officer of the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry. “Flag states must still maintain a culture of safety and oversight over their vessels, especially given the current state of the industry with crews not able to be repatriated timely, and sailing for extended periods in excess of what is allowed. We feel for our seafarers at sea, and for the operators ashore, that are doing their utmost to ensure the safe operation of their vessels in such unprecedented circumstances. We will always use technology in a positive, proactive, and common-sense way. Honestly, I am surprised that more flag states are not doing the same already, but I am sure most will soon follow. We have to embrace new ways of doing business, yet maintaining safety.”

Access the Liberian Registry’s official COVID-19 advisory page HERE

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