The first thing that we need to remember, for any rank is that we need to be fully confident and comfortable about the ship we are on. Once this is achieved, the inspection is already half cleared.
Before the Inspection
- Conduct a thorough self-inspection well before the inspection. Inform the company of any potential observations and raise whatever requisition required.
- Obtain from the company a list of past observations of the inspector. Go through these thoroughly and check for repeated observations. Find a pattern/ favourite areas of the inspector.
- Ensure the housekeeping level of the machinery spaces is high. Avoid unnecessary painting. Wherever necessary to paint, ensure correct surface preparation. Do not paint over oil-soaked lagging.
- Arrest all possible leaks. Ensure glands of pumps and valves are nipped up.
- Go through the PMS. In case there are overdue items, these should be postponed with permission from the vessel manager in place. There should be no repeated postponements as far as possible.
- The list of critical spares should be available, updated and all spares in it should be readily available for inspection.
- Fire alarm testing equipment should be as per the manual. This is especially important for detectors in exe zones.
- Gas welding equipment should be disconnected. Gauges should read zero.
- The welding area should be well demarcated and segregated with a flame retardant curtain.
- Go through the entire chapters of the sire questionnaire chapter 5,6,10 &11. Ensure no potential observations exist.
- Go through chapters 4 and 5 of ISGOTT.
- The files normally checked are the rest hour file, the fuel oil analysis report, lube oil analysis reports, bunker checklists (fuel and lubes), BDNs, permits to work, oil record books. Ensure all these are in order. In case any lube oil report isn’t normal, get the issue rectified and a new sample sent ASAP. If the new report is not available as yet, have the landing permit available and also possibly an onboard analysis indicating a normal result.
- Be familiar with the PMS system.
The above is by no means an exhaustive list. The only way to have everything covered is by going through the checklist sections mentioned above.
In case any potential observations exist, ensure the office is informed, a requisition if applicable is in place and most importantly, a risk assessment approved by the vessel manager is in place. While this may not avoid the observation, the inspector can be requested to mention in the report that a risk assessment was satisfactorily done and in place. This will go a long way in reducing the seriousness of the accompanying remark.
During the Inspection
- Be present for the opening meeting. Gauge the inspector and his priorities. He will probably inform what files he will view and also what equipment will be tested. After the meeting, prepare these accordingly.
- The sequence of inspection will also be decided. This is normally variable as per rest hours of the staff but the sequence most often followed is, paperwork and certification check in the master’s cabin, bridge and navigation checks with the second officer, deck round, interview with chief officer in CCR, a round of machinery spaces and finally closing meeting.
- In case the vessel is in sub-zero temperatures, it may be a good idea to run the emergency generator for a few minutes before the inspection. Also the lifeboat engines.
- Coordinate with chief officer and ensure that the emergency fire pump suction remains immersed at all times as far as possible.
- For deck round, the best policy is to have the chief officer, chief engineer and bosun or pump man available. In case cargo work does not permit the chief officer, another officer who is familiar with equipment can replace him.
- Ensure all staff are wearing proper PPE. This includes ear defenders.
- Be present during the closing meeting. Incase any observations are found, check the reference numbers given in case these appear unreasonable. There should be a clear basis for each observation, either directly from the sire questionnaire or from ISGOTT.
- Remember that the number of observations is not the most important conclusion. The gravity of each one is more important. A final report with 6 low-risk observations is more acceptable than a report with 1 high-risk observation. It has to be understood that each observation will need to be seriously investigated and closed.
- If there are any remarks that can be closed, do this and show this to the inspector. If he does not cancel the remarks, have him insert a sentence in the report that the observation was rectified before he left the vessel.
- In case of any ambiguity in the observations or if any appear unreasonable, inform the office before the master signs the report.
Blog by Deepak Souza Chief Engineer