Ordeal By Inspection

This cartoon was probably old when I first saw it in the eighties, but I would say the subject that it spoofs has not gotten much better.

Most of the above inspectors still show up, but today we can add Port State Control, P&I condition inspectors (especially hatch cover inspections), environmental auditors, ISM inspectors and the list goes on. M&O performs many of the above inspections and we truly symphatize with ship’s personnel that has to manage all these port call duties during ever shorter port calls.

Recently M&O has been involved in research and development activities to reduce this inspection workload for the ship’s crews. In October I will be presenting a paper on the subject at the SNAME annual meeting in Providence RI.

The subject is complex, but one thing that stands out is that a large portion of the work for these inspectors is review of shipboard documents. Today, with vastly improved ability to store and transmit documents to shore, the SNAME paper recommends that inspectors are provided with the ability to access these documents while they are ashore prior to the arrival of the vessel in the inspection port. Once the inspector has reviewed the documents, he can print what he needs and take them with him aboard the vessel for further discussion (if needed).  With document review completed, the shipboard visit takes on an entirely new character. Most of all, nobody has to bother the ship’s personnel with asking for these records and to make photo copies.

Ironically, electronic access to shipboard logs, certificates and other documents is difficult today because many official logs have to be kept by hand. With vastly improved computerized maintenance systems it is almost a trivial task to record log data in electronic format. These systems, such as ABS’ NS-5 actually date stamp documents, which means that, once issued, they cannot be altered. However, IMO approval to generate electronic logs such as the Garbage Log, the Ballast Water Log and the Oil Record Book is required, which presently is not the case.

The paper will be published at the SNAME conference and possibly this may be a reason to attend this conference (There will also be a great sailing regatta). If you cannot attend, or are in a hurry to see what we have discovered on this subject, send me an email and I will provide a copy of an early draft. Possibly you can submit a discussion of the paper to SNAME for inclusion in the conference proceedings. All comments would be most welcome.