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Preparing superyachts and crew for inspections

As soon as you enter any country’s waters, you’re under an obligation to abide by their laws. And detailed on-board inspections are used to check the vessels and their crew are in compliance.
Port State Control (PSC) is the system of inspection by officials to check vessels’ condition and operation. Safety, security, environmental protection and seafarer welfare are the main areas of interest. Port states can require defects to be put right and detain vessels if necessary.

This is all separate and in addition to any consideration of the tax status of the owner, beneficial owner and yacht.

All EU coastal countries, and Canada, Croatia, Norway and Russia, are party to the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Paris MoU). The Hague-based Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment provides the secretariat. There are six other MoU blocs worldwide. The idea is to tackle the dangers posed by rusting bulk carriers and oil tankers, so until the end of 2010 PSC superyacht inspections were rare.

On 1 January 2011, however, the Paris MoU members introduced the New Inspection Regime (NIR). Developed, according to the secretariat, ‘following consultation with the industry’, the NIR has changed the previous target of inspecting 25 per cent of ships calling at each member state to a shared commitment of inspecting, over any three-year period, 100 per cent of all the ships visiting ports and anchorages in the Paris MoU region.

Now, as with the forthcoming Maritime Labour Convention, superyachts have been lumped in with trading ships and ferries. The NIR applies to ‘ships’, which includes all yachts. Where a yacht is so small, or is not chartered, such that parts of the various maritime conventions (SOLAS, MARPOL, etc) do not apply, the PSC’s task is now to ‘assess whether the ship is of an acceptable standard in regard to safety, health or the environment’.

Further, in assessing such vessels, account must be taken ‘of such factors as the length and nature of the intended voyage or service, the size and type of the ship’. In other words, one can only guess at the approaches that will be taken once this year’s Mediterranean season begins.

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