Controls on the increase

In 2017 Port State Control inspections on yachts in the Paris MoU area increased by 13% on 2016 with 275 yachts being inspected. 22 yachts were detained – an increase of over 400% on 2016! And Franc Jansen says this is just the beginning…

For the purposes of this article, I am going to assume that you do care about the safety of all on board your yacht and you work hard to maintain the standards upheld by the MLC and international safety requirements. But I am also going to assume that you run a busy yacht, schedules and plans change almost every day and your plate is forever full. The sort of ongoing situation which, with the best will in the world, can see some procedures or demands slipping and which in turn could result in you failing a PSC. Today, the chances of your yacht being controlled are higher than they have ever been and yet some owners and their captains still feel comfortable running their yachts regardless of that risk and the important consequences of being detained or arrested for deficiencies.

Playing the probability game, the chances of being inspected would seem slim. But for me, there are two inherent flaws in that logic. The first is one of mindset. PSC exist purely as an added incentive, if one were needed, for owners and captains to ensure their yachts are being run in accordance with MLC 2006 and international safety requirements.

They are not ‘traps’ for owners or captains, they are checks for the benefit of all on board. Running a yacht that is knowingly (or even unknowingly) deficient in any aspect of Maritime Regulations and MLC poses enormous safety risks for all on board never mind the consequences of any control that uncovers them.

The second flaw in the logic, is that it misses one major fact: PSC are not random. And the longer a vessel goes without being controlled, the higher up the priority list is goes. Yachts are selected based on their age, flag, classification society, ISM provider etc.

The Paris MOU describes exactly how they prioritise ships. Their website even provides a risk calculator.

For me, the emphasis must always be on safety first. And if you are running a yacht professionally and according to good seamanship you will pass a PSC inspection. However, one can not ignore the consequences of failing a PS control for the senior officers on board, the management company, the flag and also Class. So how do you prepare for a PSC…. ?

First of all ensure that the yacht is run to a good (mini) ISM system. Ask your ISM company to do an internal audit. This will highlight any issues that PSC may find as well. Also independent surveyors such as ourselves will be able to carry out an audit for you. Lloyds Register provides a checklist, which is aimed at commercial shipping, but which is also useful for yachts.

Learn from other people’s mistakes. The top 10 PSC deficiencies on yachts in 2017 are listed here. Make sure that you do not get caught out.

It is also good to have clear guidelines for the crew on how to behave during a PSC inspection. This list is too long for this article but most importantly; Be professional. don’t lie and don’t try to blag you way through. It won’t work! Also avoid arguments, state your case and move on.

A PSC is disruptive so you want to keep it as short as possible. You need to give the confidence that your yacht is a safe yacht. As soon as the inspector is satisfied that the yacht is well run and safe, he will wrap up his inspection and leave.


1 Nautical Publications
2 Charts
3 Garbage Management Plan
4 Continuous Synopsis Records
5 Freeboard Marks
6 Voyage / Passage Plans
7 Endorsement by Flag state
8 Means Of Escape
9 Safety Radio (incl Exception)
10 ISM

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