Select Committee on Public Accounts Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary Information from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (PAC 00-01/137)

  This note provides additional information for the Committee of Public Accounts in the light of comments made during oral evidence on 2 April 2001 in relation to the NAO Report on the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's Ship Survey and Inspection role.

Q.50  Clarification of Figure 3

  The NAO has written separately to the Committee with a further explanation of the detail underpinning Figure 3 in the NAO's Report. I can confirm that the NAO's submission has been discussed with this Agency and we concur with the NAO commentary.

Q.52  Age Profile of Surveyors

  The average age of the surveyors within the MCA is 50. This is largely because for many in the Agency surveying is a second career ashore after practical seafaring experience or work in other related maritime industries. The age profile is as follows:

Age Range








50 +


Q.55  Surveyors travelling from Liverpool to Newcastle

  When local surveyors are unavailable, it is possible that a surveyor will travel from Liverpool to survey vessels in the North East of England. This happened, for example, on 27 March this year when one of the Newcastle-based surveyors was ill and the other was on business in China. A third possibility was inexperienced and still in training. Although a surveyor from Liverpool undertook the work, the owner was only charged for travel from the nearest MCA Marine Office, which is our standard practice in these unusual circumstances.

Q.90  The extent to which foreign ferries operating from UK ports are regarded as not fully meeting the requirements of British ferries

  The UK has powers as a port state to require foreign flag vessels operating from its ports to comply with the same regulations that it also applies to UK vessels. This requirement is fulfilled by a regime of Port State Control and operational inspections. These powers are further reinforced by relevant EC Directives such as Directive 1999/35/EC on a system of mandatory surveys for the safe operation of regular Ro-Ro ferry and high speed passenger craft services. This Directive was enacted by Statutory Instrument 2001 No 152. The MCA is introducing an Operation Advice Note to assist Inspectors in monitoring compliance with these regulations, a copy is attached to provide an insight into the detail and scope of the MCA's inspection work on these vessels.

  There are a number of regulations that enact Health and Safety provisions to UK vessels. These regulations also give powers for the detention of foreign flag vessels that contravene Health and Safety requirements. In the case of minor infringements the only sanction is to inform the flag state and the International Labour Organisation. However, it is felt that imposing stiffer penalties in these cases would be difficult to justify, and the International Safety Management (ISM) Code can be applied to address these sorts of deficiencies.

  It is a requirement of International Conventions for all ship's masters to ensure that their vessels have sufficient stability for each voyage when they leave port. The UK imposes particularly thorough requirements for measuring the cargo loads carried on each voyage. This involves all goods vehicles boarding the ship to be weighed in order to provide accurate data for the calculation of ship stability. It is a UK requirement to have onboard stability computers for this task but this requirement is not extended to foreign vessels although in practice they are usually carried. The relevant UK regulations can only enforce the provision of weighing facilities at UK ports. Therefore in the absence of weigh-bridges in non-UK ports it is only possible to estimate cargo loads based upon available records which will include documentation with goods vehicles. This is obviously a less precise method for establishing ship stability than using known weights. However, ship's masters should check that the increase in weight of the ship, by measuring change in draught, corresponds with the estimated weight of cargo. UK vessels are required to have automatic measuring equipment for ship's draughts, which is a more accurate electronic alternative to visually reading from the marks forward and aft, and this requirement does not extend to foreign vessels.

  All Ro-Ro passenger ferries that operate on a regular route to and from the UK, regardless of their flag of registration, are required to meet the improved damage stability requirements of the "Stockholm Agreement". This is a regional agreement of north-west European countries which was introduced following the ESTONIA disaster, and focuses on the survivability of the vessel in the event of the ingress of large amounts of water on the vehicle deck. The requirement to meet this criterion was introduced on the basis of "worst ships first". The process started in 1998 and will be completed by 1 October 2002. The MCA monitors compliance of both UK and foreign ships and no significant difficulties have been encountered so far. A list of compliant and non-compliant ships is published annually to give the public information. A new list is in preparation and will be published within the next few weeks in the form of a Press Notice. A copy will be sent to the Committee for information.

Q.103 List of bad countries within Post State Control

  The Paris Memorandum of Understanding group of countries collects statistical information about deficiencies and detentions of vessels and their country of registration. Information is then presented annually in white, grey and black lists within the Paris MOU's Annual Report. The 1999 Annual Report (the latest available) was left for the Committee at the end of the 2 April hearing and the lists can be found on pages 17 and 18 with a commentary on page 40. For convenience, the relevant pages are attached to this note.

Q.119  Progress with a Confidential Hazardous Incident Reporting Scheme (CHIRPS)

  A Shipping Policy division of the DETR has now taken over responsibility for this venture from the MAIB. Currently, a number of options for the reporting scheme are being considered with a view to presenting advice to Ministers. This has included looking at EC proposals and other sectors such as aviation. The design of the system needs to be carefully considered to ensure that belief in its confidentiality is certain and that its results will be useful to marine interests. A system based on the successful aviation CHIRPS model appears the best way forward. The current MARS system operated by the Nautical Institute also demonstrates how useful a confidential reporting system can be. In the meantime, all marine officials, whether with the MCA/MAIB/harbour authorities offer an open door for anyone who has safety concerns.

Q.129  Updating Instructions for the Guidance of Surveyors

  Instructions to Surveyors are public documents that the Agency tries to keep as up to date as possible. Minor amendments and matters of interpretation can be updated through the Agency's Operational Advice Note system as part of its Quality Management arrangements. OANs can be issued as and when required. For example, an OAN was issued on 27 March 2001 giving advice on the conduct of stability tests for fishing vessels. The Marine Notices System is also used to promulgate instructions, clarifications and interpretations when necessary until a formal revision of the relevant instructions to Surveyors is justified. The latest revision was in October 2000 in relation to the Load Line Instructions. Revisions that we anticipate later this year include the Instructions on the Domestic Safety Management Code, and also Safety of Navigation in the light of a major revision of international requirements. Most other sets of instructions were last revised in 1998 or 1999.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency

18 April 2001


  1.   The Merchant Shipping (Mandatory Surveys for Ro-Ro Ferry and High Speed Passenger Craft) Regulations 2001 which came into force on 16 February 2001 apply Council Directive 1999/35/EC on a system of mandatory surveys for the safe operation of regular ro-ro ferry and high speed passenger craft services. MGN 171 provides further advice.


  2.  These regulations require mandatory surveys (called "specific surveys") on all ro-ro ferries and HSC operating to UK ports. It applies to all Class II and IIA ro-ro ferries and craft subject to the High Speed Code engaged in voyages in Class A waters. (NB: Dynamically Supported Craft prior to HSC Code are Class II or II(A) vessels accepted on equivalent basis). This requirement applies to vessels of all flags including UK flag.

  3.  Responsibility to undertake a mandatory survey is placed on the host state. This survey is essentially the same as an expanded inspection under PSC but with some additions:

    —  agreement that the host state, and substantially interest member states, can investigate casualties (through MAIB);

    —  the owners may ask for the flag state to attend the mandatory specific survey; and

    —  the surveys should as far as possible be carried out by all host states in planned joint surveys.

  4.  There is also unscheduled in-service survey which, in the UK, will be unannounced.

  5.  An important element is the timing of the survey, which ideally should be carried out at the same time as the survey for Passenger Certificate although the requirement to carry out drills may make this impractical. For UK vessels, surveyors should ensure that all aspects of the Directive have been complied with (there is no need to duplicate work already undertaken for the PC). Marine Offices will need to record all surveys under the Directive in SIAS.


  6.  Article 11.6 of the Directive requires the findings of specific surveys to be recorded in an agreed format. In addition Article 13.3 says that the Commission will maintain a database for these reports. At this point in time no reporting scheme has been put in place by the Commission. Until such time as this is addressed we like other member states, will adopt national measures for reporting these surveys.

  7.  Existing forms MSF 1602/1603 should be used to report these mandatory surveys. Details on the use of MSF 1602/1603 are contained at section 6.3 of the Inspection Policy Surveyor Instructions.

  8.  Delete the heading on MSF 1602 as appropriate for UK or Foreign ferries.

  9.  In the "Type of Inspection" field insert the following as appropriate:

    —  "Initial Specific Survey";

    —  "Annual Specific Survey"; and

    —  "In Service Survey".

  10.  Record in remarks column "ships route" and other host states involved.

  11.  Surveys under the Directive (UK and Foreign) will be counted in the Core Activity Report under a new heading "Mandatory Surveys—Ro-Ro & HSC—specific surveys and in-service surveys".

  12.  In the case of a third flag ferry inspected in a foreign host state only that host state will issue a report to the ship. So that the work done is recorded on SIAS a MSF 1602/03 should be completed which duplicates any deficiencies found.

Foreign vessels

  13.  Reports for Foreign vessels are to be inserted in "Foreign vessel surveys and non-PSC" part of the SIAS database. (The EC advise that since these "surveys" are outwith the PSC directive they should not be recorded on SIRENAC).

UK vessels

  14.  Reports for UK vessels are to be inserted in "UK and DT" part of SIAS database. If the PC is done in conjunction with the mandatory survey record the PC in the "Type of Survey" field, and the mandatory survey in the "Type of Inspection" field (see 8 above) (ie do not use "In conjunction with a survey" in the "Type of Inspection" field).


  15.  No charge for any survey undertaken under these arrangements will be made. Where a Prevention Notice is issued in accordance with Regulation 9 of SI No 152/2001, MCA fees will be charged from the time at which the Prevention Notice was issued.


  16.  A Prevention of Operation Notice preventing the operation of a vessel in specific circumstances in introduced. To facilitate this new forms MSF 1710 and MSF 1711 have been produced and are available on Formflow. Forms MSF 1701 (Notice of Detention) and MSF (Prohibition Notice) will continue to be used but not in the context of these requirements. There is a right of appeal, which is equivalent to that for a Prohibition Notice and therefore a copy of the relevant note of appeal (MSF 1707) should be issued.

  17.  The same procedures should be followed as for a Detention. For example, copies of the Notice should be sent to Inspection Branch (DMO HQ), the flag state and classification society. Use the Release from Prevention of Operation Notice when the danger has been removed or compliance with the regulations is achieved.

  18.  Where the vessel is considered unsafe or the powers within these regulations are not appropriate and the vessel needs to be stopped from leaving port then a Detention Notice should be issued in addition to the Prevention of Operation Notice. However, the detention should still be recorded on the MSF 1602 (and not on MSF 1600). Note that the Directive only applies to the SOLAS Convention (also STCW) and therefore a Prevention of Operation Notice cannot be issued in relation to breaches in other Conventions such as Load Line or Marpol, in which cases normal Port State Control procedures will apply.


  19.  Provision is made under these arrangements for the issue of Improvement Notices. Existing form MSF 1706 will be used.


  20.  It is anticipated that there should be no change to the existing pattern of Marine Office involvement with vessels subject to this Directive except that a programme to ensure that all vessels are covered will need to be implemented by each MO. To establish contact with relevant ferry operators and promulgate initial specific surveys, a pro forma letter for Marine Offices to use is attached at Annex 1.


  21.  Specific agreements on co-operation between UK and other host states are being put in place. To facilitate this co-operation each party will nominate a contact point who will be responsible for organising a structured programme of joint inspections and co-ordinating survey verifications required by the Directive. The agreements set out detail of the requirements for joint working. Each Marine Office implementing this Directive with a Member State will shortly receive a copy of their agreement(s). There will be a requirement for UK contact points and their opposite numbers to meet at least annually where possible.


  22.  In regulation 1(2) of SI 2001 No 152 the trigger date for the fitment of VDR's is 31 January 2003. From this date Voyage Data recorders are required to be fitted to ro-ro and HSC vessels on domestic voyages in sea areas covered by Class A (Article 4 of Directive 98/18/EC). Separate dates are applied to ro-ro vessels on international voyages. The newly adopted SOLAS date for these vessels is by the first PC survey after 1 July 2002. Revision being made to the High Speed Craft Code is that HSC's engaged on international voyages will require to fit a VDR by the first survey after [1 January 2003—which would have the effect of putting both domestic and international HSC's on the same footing].


  23.  Article 13(2) and Regulation 14 of SI 2001 No 152 require MCA to provide a shore-based navigational guidance system in accordance with guidelines given by IMO Resolution A 795(19). This has been implemented in the UK by means of Maritime Safety Information, Navtex, and VTS systems (where appropriate) and this is explained in paragraph 23 of MGN 171.


  24.  The Directive (Annex I, paragraph 7) requires companies to prepare voyage plans, taking account of an IMO Resolution. The relevant document is IMO Resolution A.893(21), which was adopted after making the Directive and therefore did not appear as the correct reference. This Resolution is due to promulgated in the UK by MGN 166 (which is being printed at the time this OAN was produced). Therefore, it is unreasonable to expect companies to have taken this guidance into account at this time. However, surveyors could expect companies to have taken account of previous guidance such as MGN 72 (M + F). It is worth noting that the ISM Code (paragraph also requires companies to take account of relevant guidance.


  25.  To assist Marine Officers to carry out surveys under these measures, a checklist of the relevant requirements to be covered are attached at Annex 2. This is not intended as exhaustive and the Technical Annexes to Council Directive 1999/35/EC must be adhered to for specific surveys. The Checklist should not be left onboard, but is to be completed and retained in the local Marine office for each survey.

  26.  Although not a specific requirement of the Directive, by way of a reminder, surveyors should ensure that Search and Rescue Plans have been submitted and agreed by their nearest Coastguard Rescue Centre (MSN 1721 refers).


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