Vessel safety survey

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Vessel safety surveys are important during the life of a vessel for better safety and security. These controls are directed by the classification societies and are very different (safety equipment, security, hoist, dock survey). For more details refer to the SOLAS (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea). In order for a ships to have the authorisation to navigate there are controls in the harbor and also controls for the cargo (chemical cargo and gas cargo are very strict). The seafarers must have the knowledge of surveys, to avoid human and economic disasters.

Construction and equipment surveys[edit]

Construction surveys[edit]

The surveys depend on the age and type of the vessel. The certificates given by the classification societies are valid for five years. During these five years different controls on the hull are made (there are three damage levels, if the vessel of the damage levels check ups, it will not receive the certificate), and on the engine. To keep a certificate all requirements are compulsory. The Continuous survey hull (CSH) and Continuous survey machinery (CSM) are controls for the mooring, anchoring and the propulsion system. The special survey cycle (SS) is an alternative for the CSH and Engine survey (ES) for the CSM. The annual survey (AS) is a control of the safety equipment. There is an annual inspection that can be done during the three months period before or the three months after the annual date. There must be two docking survey (DS) during the five years of the certificate but it is possible to avoid one survey by doing the In-water Survey with the help of a diving inspection. The intermediate survey (ITSS) is between the second and the third year, and the subject of this survey depends on the age the vessel (generally, it is an inspection of ballast more or less detailed). For the chemical vessel, oil carrier surveys are more and more intensive with the age.

Safety surveys[edit]

All merchant cargo must have the following certificates: Ship safety construction, Ship safety equipment, Ship safety radio in order to navigate. The exercises should be practiced regularly (the exercises are on safety: acceding in life saving appliance and fire safety system code). The means of evacuation (life raft, life boat, marine evacuation system) must be put to sea once a month and maneuvered once every three month. The GMDSS (global maritime distress on safety system) are controlled by the certificates .The pyrotechnic equipment is not tested on board but the personal equipment (immersion suit, life jacket) are regularly tested when there is exercises for abandon ship or if the master decides. The firefighting equipment is tested once a week (mask and breathing apparatus). The fire hoses are rarely tested inside the ship.

Hoist surveys[edit]

The lifting appliances are often used on a ship to put on land the heavy cargo or other goods. The controls are important. All the surveys are noted in the Register of Ship’s Lifting Appliances and Cargo Handling Gear; the inspection is directed by the classification society.

Surveys in harbour[edit]

Port State control[edit]

All the vessels are not controlled when they arrive in harbor, it depends of many characteristics (old, flag state, cargo, quality of classification society ...). The Memorandum of understanding (MOU) is a group (area) to avoid this restrictive investigation. The control is determined by « target factor » described above. If the vessel have esthetic deficiencies, the reparation shall be made before the next inspection, but on the other hand the safety equipment must be in order, in case of rustbuckets the vessel is put in detention and cannot navigate .The ship can be banned by the region of the MOU .


Every cargo in ship is controlled before being unloaded. The controls are strict for the chemical and oil carriers and are conducted by an independent surveyor. The ullage is a mean to calculate the quantity into the tanks; the sample gives an idea of the quality (density and temperature) of the water in tanks. The surveyor must have the three last cargos to know the problems of compatibility (IMDG code) Older is the vessel, more the controls are made frequently (especially for the oil carriers to avoid the Erika disaster as an example). For the dry bulk cargo, it is compulsory to apply a product a gas rats to avoid problems with this animal.

Human survey[edit]

Knowledge of seaman[edit]

All merchant vessels are directed by a human being. So, the knowledge and the refresh is important in the sea world. The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) created by IMO is a convention which made the rules for training. The STCW certificate is compulsory to navigate in merchant ship as a master and an officer. This certificate guarantees that you have the basic knowledge on the safety rules (fire fighting, medical, survival techniques, and management) and navigation (use of a chart etc.).


The captain runs his vessel with the help of his officers and his crew to ensure the good working order of the vessel .The muster list gives the instruction during the accidents (fire, evacuation). During the first twenty four hours of sailing there are exercises to familiarize the crew with the safety on board a ship. This is compulsory. One abandon ship drill and one fire drill by month are required.

The classification societies made the rules to delivered certificates and some societies deliver more easily certificates because the owner of a ship is influent. The IMO is trying to conduct all the surveys and the maintenances. If the Classification societies are more restrictive the owner can change it. All seamen need a good and regular training to become a good seafarer.

See also[edit]


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