A Marine surveyor or "Yacht & Small Craft Surveyor" is a person who conducts inspections, surveys or examinations of marine vessels to assess, monitor and report on their condition and the products on them. Marine surveyors also inspect equipment intended for new or existing vessels to ensure compliance with various standards or specifications. Marine surveys typically include the structure, machinery and equipment (navigational, safety, radio, etc.) and general condition of a vessel. It also includes judging materials on board and their condition. Due to the fact that certifications and subsequently payments are processed only after the surveyor has expressed his or her satisfaction, a marine surveyor holds a prestigious position and is held with much regard in the shipbuilding industry. Marine Surveyors are highly qualified and technically sound and are usually selected after thorough evaluation procedures as vessels ranging from small ferries to enormous crude oil carriers and cruise liners are approved to sail into the high seas based purely on their judgement,competence and integrity.
Marine surveying is often closely associated with marine insurance, damage and salvage, accident and fraud investigation as insurers generally lack the training and skills required to perform a detailed assessment of the condition of a vessel. While marine surveyors are sometimes employed by insurers directly they maintain a certain professional autonomy in order to provide an unbiased view. Independent marine surveyors are often employed by the clients of marine insurers to provide evidence in support of damage claims made against the insurer. Insurance companies cannot require customers to use specific marine surveyors (although they often provide a list of recommended or pre-approved marine surveyors who are known to them).
Marine surveyors use many credentials, letters, and terms such as "accredited", "certified", "qualified", "AMS", "CMS", etc. There are many ways to train to become a marine surveyor including taking correspondence courses, apprenticing, or simply opening a business. However, marine surveyors pursue their profession independently of required organizations, and there is currently no national or international licensing requirement for marine surveyors. The U.S. Coast Guard does not approve or certify marine surveyors. All association terms and initials represent training and certification by private organizations.
Qualities and Qualifications of a Marine Surveyor
When it comes to defining the qualities and qualifications of a Marine Surveyor, a memorandum of 1834 has not been bettered:
“The utmost care and discrimination have been exercised by the Committee in the selection of men of talent, integrity, and firmness as Surveyors, on whom the practical efficacy of the system and the contemplated advantages must so materially depend; the Committee have in their judgement appointed those persons only…who appeared to them to be most competent to discharge the important duties of their situations with fidelity and ability, and to ensure strict and impartial justice to all parties whose property shall come under their supervision.”
- CLASSIFICATION SOCIETIES - their key role - IACS
General duties of a marine surveyor
A marine surveyor may perform the following tasks:
- Conduct surveys throughout the ship's life (building new ship, annual survey, interim survey, special survey) to ensure standards are maintained;
- Perform inspections required by domestic statutes and international conventions by the International Maritime Organization (IMO);
- Witness tests and operation of emergency and safety machinery and equipment;
- Measure ships for tonnage and survey them for load line assignment;
- Attend court as an expert witness and assist in coroner's inquiries;
- Investigate marine accidents.
Types of marine surveyor
A government surveyor performs ship registration surveys, surveys of foreign-going ships and local craft, and generally enforces ship safety standards to insure marine industrial safety. Government-appointed marine surveyors, also called marine inspectors in some countries, belong to two groups that are not mutually exclusive: Flag State surveyors report to the government with whom the vessel is registered, and Port State surveyors report to the government into whose territory the vessel has entered. The Port State surveyors usually have the authority to detain vessels considered to have defects that may result in adverse impacts on life or the environment. Based on their government's legal framework, Flag State surveyors can impose conditions on the vessel such that failure to comply will result in the registration of the vessel being suspended or withdrawn. In this event, the vessel will find it almost impossible to trade.
A classification surveyor inspects ships to make sure that the ship, its components and machinery are built and maintained according to the standards required for their class. Classification surveyors often have two roles: one is as a representative of the classification society; and the other as an inspector on behalf of the country with which the vessel is registered (the flag state). The classification role is to ensure that during construction the vessel initially complies with the classification society's rules for construction and outfitting, and thereafter is maintained fit to proceed trading. The Flag State role is based on a clear set of guidelines issued by the registering country. On satisfactory completion of any survey, the classification surveyor makes recommendations to the classification society and/or the flag state. These may be that the vessel has a clean bill of health, or that various defects must be corrected within a given time.
Increasingly, both government and classification surveyors are becoming involved in confirming compliance with international treaties associated with such things as pollution, international security, and safety management schemes. They may also examine cargo gear to ensure that it meets various requirements or regulations. Government and classification surveyors are usually marine professionals mariners, such as a qualified ship's master, engineer, naval architect or radio officer.
A private marine surveyor may be asked to carry out a wide range of tasks, including examining ships' cargoes or onboard conditions such as fuel quality; investigating accidents at sea (e.g., oil spillages or failure of machinery or structures which are not considered to be critical); and preparing accident reports for insurance purposes, and conducting draught surveys to analyse how much cargo has been lost or gained.
Private surveyors also carry out condition surveys or pre-purchase surveys to determine the condition of the ship prior to charter or an acquisition. Many companies as P&I clubs, ship-owners, brokers, etc. employ or contract the services of a private marine surveyor in order to determine the condition of the ship.
Many traditional companies conduct private surveys. Examples include  Bureau Veritas (BV),  International Registries of Shipping,  Iamsa Bureau of Shipping, Lloyd Registers,  Lloyd's Agency Network,  ANCO,  Global Maritime, Bul Mar Prof, DNV, NKK, LOC and others.
Yacht and small craft surveyor
Yacht and small craft (Y&SC) surveyors specialize in inspecting smaller vessels that are most often used for pleasure boating (both power and sail). Y&SC surveyors may be employed directly by larger marine insurance companies, but most often they are independent practitioners. Since using boats for pleasure (or "yachting") is a relatively recent phenomena, having only been widely practiced for the last century or so, Y&SC surveying has many unique aspects that are not shared with the more traditional forms of marine surveying described above.
Marine surveyor training
There very few institutions providing education and training in this important field. The International Institute of Marine Surveying (IIMS) UK is one of them. IIMS provides Diploma and HND level couses by distance learning. The members consists of mariners, cargo surveyors, yacht and small craft surveyors and other professional in the field.
- US Surveyors Association
- National Association of Marine Surveyors
- Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors
- Navtech Marine Surveyor Education US Surveyors Association
- Vessel safety survey
- American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC)
- Yacht Survey Asia
- International Institute of Marine Surveying (IIMS)
- National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMSGlobal)
- Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS)
- Yacht Designers and Surveyors Association (YDSA)
- Marine Administration Blog
- International Association of Marine Surveyors & Auditors (IAMSA)
- Survey & certification(MARSS)
- Lloyd's Agency Network
US Surveyors Association Master Marine Surveyors