MCA announce resumption of inspections

MCA survey and inspectors. Credit: The Maritime & Coastguard agency

The UK Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) has announced that the suspension on routine vessel inspection and survey activity put in place from 23 March 2020 will end on 20 July 2020.

The MCA said it will resume survey, audits, and inspections following a ‘risk based’ approach. The agency has advised operators to approach their corresponding classification society to make the necessary arrangements in advance of 20 July.

This announcement by the MCA appears to show a relaxing of restrictions implemented amid COVID-19, and a return to inspections being carried out as normal.

The three-month short-term certificates that were previously being issued to ensure vessel compliance during the COVID-19 pandemic will remain valid until their expiration. The MCA told SAS that such extension certificates will only be issued in exceptional circumstances after the 20 July.

The MCA also announced that all COVID-19 extensions to servicing, testing, and calibration of equipment, for example the servicing of on-board firefighting apparatus, will end on 20 July 2020.

At a virtual meeting held by the International Maritime Organization, on 8 April, all port state control inspection regimes agreed to operate under a more targeted approach to ensure the safety of their surveyors and inspectors. As such, inspections were greatly reduced; according to data provided by DNV GL, on average there were 70 vessel detentions a month under the Tokyo MoU in the last quarter of 2019, which fell to between 14-20 detentions during the COVID-19 outbreak.

DNV GL data shows a slight rise in inspection rates under the Tokyo MoU rising from 1117 in April to 1640 in May 2020.