UK Maritime Coastguard Agency to suspend routine ship inspections

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

The UK’s Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) has stopped its surveyors from carrying out routine vessel inspections, domestically or overseas.

The change came into effect on 23 March and the MCA maintained that it will keep its members updated as soon as this situation changes. However, a marine information note (MIN), published on 27 March by the MCA, has extended the authorised auditing powers of its Recognised Organisations (RO) to carry out required audits and surveys onboard UK flagged vessels due to COVID-19.

This is intended to support  vessels unable to arrange surveys, audits, inspections, and required servicing activities due to a lack of availability or restriction of surveyor travel because of the travel bans incurred by COVID-19.

The audits and surveys that RO’s able to carry out  include; Safety Management Certificate Audits, International Ship Maritime Labour Certificate Inspections, and Safety Equipment Certificate Surveys on all internationally trading UK cargo vessels to facilitate the engagement of local surveyor resource.

Ship operators are encouraged to make arrangements with the relevant RO for their upcoming vessel survey/audit/inspection before the 16 September 2020 deadline, when the MIN expires, in an area with no or limited cases of COVID-19.

Further, only short-term certificates for the vessel can be issued to remain compliant and valid for no more than three months from the dates of expiration of the current certificate. The certificates will also be issued electronically, to be presented to officials as requested.

For the full breakdown of the contingency plan, which includes other areas of inspection (dry docking, fire fighting apparatus inspection) click here.