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Drawbacks of remote inspections to be addressed

There are still inconsistencies between physical and remote vessel inspections

COVID-19 made in-person surveys impossible, resulting in more remote inspections. The industry did accept this alternative measure in ensuring vessels are seaworthy. However, too much of it led to some questioning its reliabilities, and suggested a set of universal guidelines be drawn.

Standardised regulations needed

Agreeing there should be a set of uniform guidelines for surveys, BIMCO supported the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) initiative to draw up a set of remote inspection guidelines. This was proposed to the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) meeting, held online from 4 – 8 October 2021, with BIMCO in presence. The objective was to establish global and uniform implementation of such guidelines.

The meeting had participants considering new guidelines on remote surveys, with a focus on aligning the challenges involving remote surveys. The difference in approaches (onboard survey versus online) might result in murky findings; inaccurate amount of details and depth of information. Despite the doubts, classification societies observed a demand for remote surveys especially for smaller-sized vessels. This proved to be effective for verifying if a repair has been executed, or confirming the correcting of a damage.

For seafarers, more assurance is unquestionably needed before they resume voyage. The vessel faults which fell through the cracks can compromise the crew’s safety, given that remote inspections are easier to engage in spite of its downsides. Moreover, shipowners and crew might be apprehensive about the experience of the inspector, which further complicates the process.

The concoction of concerns does warrant a list of standardised guidelines from the IMO, notwithstanding remote surveys’ supplementary role in vessel maintenance. There is a set of standardised regulations for physical inspections, but not for those done remotely due to the pandemic. Consistency in this aspect provides the assurance both shipowners and crew need to minimise risks onboard.


Crewing Online News Team
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