Full-scale globalisation of trade has been accompanied by a progressive liberalisation of maritime transport. The proliferation of open registries has created a situation in which Port State Control (PSC) has become much more effective than the feeble or non-existent control exercised by those States. This study has been conducted on the influence of the professional profile of inspectors on inspection results. The objective of our paper was to evaluate the impact of PSC inspectors’ professional profile by conducting a case study of the Spanish Maritime Administration. The paper concludes with a discussion of the correlation between deficiencies detected and professional profiles.
Characteristics of the regional agreements on Port State Control
For more than 50 years, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has carried out valuable work and invested a great deal of effort in implementing rules and regulations covering maritime transportation to ensure compliance with vital standards of shipping safety and marine environmental protection. The SOLAS and MARPOL Conventions have been adopted in respect of 90 % of the international fleet (Veiga 2002). Nevertheless, maritime regulatory regime fails to effectively address human factors and safety management challenges, as stated by Batalden and Sydnes (2013) or Kuronen and Tapaninen (2010), these being pretty much the same challenges as identified a century ago (Schröder-Hinrichs et al. 2012).
The Paris Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Port State Control (PSC) was adopted in response to the Amoco Cadiz disaster off the French coast in 1978. Promoted by the IMO, in recent decades, eight more agreements have been signed on PSC procedures, all of them regional in character (Psaraftis 2002). The purpose of this harmonised inspection system is to prevent substandard ships that present high risk from sailing to European and Canadian North Atlantic ports and anchorages.
The purpose of PSC is to inspect foreign vessels in national ports in order to ensure that the ship’s conditions, equipment and crew comply with the requirements laid down in international conventions. The Paris MoU established two types of inspection. The first applies to all foreign vessels in member states’ ports and consists of two categories: an initial inspection and a more detailed inspection. The second applies exclusively to ships considered to present a special risk and consists of only one category: an expanded inspection.
Annex XI of Directive 2009/16/EC, amended by Directive 2013/38/EU, on Port State Control, establishes the professional profile of inspectors and the qualification criteria. Basically, inspectors must have appropriate theoretical knowledge and practical experience of ships and their operation and be competent in the enforcement of conventions and the relevant PSC procedures. The requirements of becoming an inspector vary by the MoUs and across the different countries of the regime. The reality is that PSC officers can be naval architects, merchant marine captains, chief engineers, even radio officers, with sea-going experience. We hypothesised that this spectrum can generate different approaches to carry out inspections on ships. The objective of the present study was to assess the impact of PSC inspectors’ professional profile on inspection results by conducting a case study of the Spanish Maritime Administration.
The literature on PSC inspections is extensive, particularly as regards two aspects: the implications for Maritime Law and the policies for pollution prevention and reducing ship safety deficiencies.
Some publications, such as that by Özçayir (2004) (updated in subsequent editions), have provided a detailed analysis of the legal consequences of implementing the various PSC regimes. Others, such as those by Alcázar and Piniella (2001) and Kidman (2003), are more technical than legal in nature and much more practical, describing ship inspections and how these should be carried out. A later article by Aguilar (2008) discussed the regime of sanctions in relation to the early evolution of the PSC regime. Chatzirigopoulou (2010) has written a more general study, although this is limited to updating the legal bases of the PSC system. Since 1995, the IMO (2001) has also issued a periodically updated manual as part of a PSC model course, which has been complemented with another on procedures (IMO 2012).
Recent years have witnessed further important contributions on different aspects of the PSC system. For example, Knapp (2004) and Knapp and Franses (2007a, b; 2008) have pioneered the application of econometrics to more accurately quantify PSC effectiveness worldwide, using binary logistic regression to identify differences between several PSC regimes. In 2007, these same researchers concluded that it was necessary to revise the frequency of inspections according to the ship risk profile, and their recommendation was subsequently implemented by the Paris MoU with the new inspection regime (NIR), which took effect from the year 2011 (Knapp and Van de Velden 2009; Knapp and Bijwaard 2009; Knapp and Franses 2010).
In a study on the role of inspectors, Knapp and Bijwaard (2009) recommended standardising inspection procedures, providing PSC officers with training and integrating the databases of various regimes, in particular, with a view to developing the Global Integrated Ship Information System (GISIS). Meanwhile, Cariou and Wolf (2011) used data from the Swedish Maritime Administration (1996–2001) to determine how ship characteristics influence the interval between two consecutive PSC inspections and the number of deficiencies detected during such inspections. They also investigated whether a ship that has undergone PSC inspection at a given time subsequently presents a reduction in the total number of deficiencies detected in the next inspection. They found that a ship’s age, type and flag of registry were significant predictors (Cariou and Wolf 2015).
Li and Zheng (2008) studied the effectiveness of PSC and the methods adopted in regional PSC agreements for selecting ships for inspection; their study confirmed that the enforcement of PSC is effective in improving ship safety levels in maritime transport. More recent and novel studies include those by Bang (2012) and Li et al. (2014), who explored the dependencies between PSC inspections and a ship’s involvement in accidents and incidents using Bayesian networks based on inspection, accident and incident data, with two alternative algorithms.
Other important developments in this field in 2014 have included the work of the Sub-committee on Implementation of IMO Instruments (IMO 2014) and documents issued by the Paris MoU Secretariat (Paris MoU 2008 to 2013).
Although Wu et al. (2014) have studied specific aspects of inspection (such as evaluating the effectiveness of emergency fire drills or PSC inspections on board), only Knapp and Franses (2007b) have conducted a general analysis about the influence of the professional profile of inspectors and the results of inspections. They concluded that there are differences in the average probabilities of detention based on inspector’s background, but it was necessary, a further insight in order to make a final conclusion on the subject in question.
The new inspection regime
The Paris MoU was also the first in establishing a method for selecting the vessels to be inspected. The original method of selection started from the information already available on the vessel; this makes clear the importance of all the agreements having their own system for transmitting vessel data throughout their network. In the case of the Paris MoU, there were two initial procedural criteria for the selection of vessels for inspection: first that the vessel was already listed in the category ‘Vessel for priority inspection’ and second that it had a high ‘General selection factor’.
Since the entry into force of the NIR at the beginning of 2011, each ship in the information system is assigned a ship risk profile, which determines its priority for possible inspection, the maximum interval between inspections and the scope of the inspection. All ships in the information system are categorised either as high, standard or low risk (HR, SR or LR) based on generic and historical parameters. The ship’s risk profile is recalculated daily taking into account changes in the more dynamic parameters such as age, the 36 months history and company performance. Recalculation also occurs after every inspection and when the applicable performance tables for Flags and Recognized Organizations (RO) are changed.
Based on a ship’s risk profile, the inspection and selection scheme determine the scope, frequency and priority of inspections (Payoyo 1994; Bang 2012; Piniella et al. 2000).
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