Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Port State Control in Australia

The Australian Government is committed to the protection of life and property at sea and to the preservation of the marine environment.

Port State Control (PSC) is one of the strategies used to protect the Australian coastline and to ensure the safety and welfare of seafarers. Responsibility for the safety and operation of an individual vessel lies with shipowners and flag States.

The following information will tell you about Australia’s Port State Control Programme and any action that may be taken if a ship consistently performs poorly or poses a risk to the safety and welfare of seafarers or the environment.

Key documents

Introduction to Port State Control (PSC) video

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has produced a five minute informational video about AMSA's Port State Control (PSC).

The above five minute PSC video [mp4MP4: 38Mb] is available to download. A two minute PSC video [mp4MP4: 16Mb] and twenty five minute PSC video [mp4MP4: 210Mb] is also available to download.

Introduction to Port State Control in Australia

The Australian Government is committed to the protection of life and property at sea and to the preservation of the marine environment. Port State Control (PSC) is one of the strategies used to ensure that these objectives are achieved, however responsibility for the safety and operation of the vessel lies with shipowners and flag States.

Ship Inspection Record Book

When undertaking an inspection a Inspector will utilise a Ship Inspection Record (SIR) book which contains some guidelines and all relevant forms. Selected Offices may utilise a computer based SIR Book whereby a notebook computer and special software provide the same information and forms as the hard copy book.

The SIR Book has recently undergone some detailed updating with some of the more detailed guidelines being moved to a new pocket-sized notebook [PDF Icon PDF:295Kb Also available in full page format PDF Icon PDF:271Kb] . This allows Inspectors to carry the guidelines with them during an inspection. As previously, for uniformity, specific areas are nominated in the notebook but the Inspector has the discretion to examine other areas. The layout of all the forms in the SIR Book were also updated to assist with data entry and to ensure they conform to the required International standards.

Other changes to the SIR book were to remove the PSC deficiency codes from the back of Forms A and B since they were becoming difficult to read due to the small font size. The codes [PDF Icon PDF:135Kb] are now in the SIR Book printed in larger, easier to read, text on both sides of a serrated page which can be removed and handed to the Master with Forms A and B as required. Another serrated page [PDF Icon PDF:90Kb] was added to the SIR Book which may be provided to the Master prior to the inspection commencing. This gives the Master some notice regarding which certificates and equipment may be included in the inspection.

Conduct of PSC Inspections

AMSA conducts PSC inspections in accordance with international guidelines and within the constraints of its authority. Inspectors are guided by a set of ‘Instructions to Inspectors’ and a ‘Ship Inspection Manual’, which are based on the international convention requirements and resolutions of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

It is not an AMSA requirement that all shipboard personnel be retained on board in order to facilitate a PSC inspection. Australia has ratified MLC 2006, and Masters/Operators are to be mindful of MLC Regulation 2.4.2: "Seafarers shall be granted shore leave to benefit their health and well-being and with the operational requirements of their positions".

During a PSC inspection, the Inspector first conducts an initial inspection. This comprises a visit on board to verify the ship carries the necessary valid certificates and documentation. They also inspect areas critical to the safe operation of the ship in order to form an opinion as to whether the vessel is in compliance with those certificates and the overall conditions of the ship, its equipment and its crew. If certification is invalid, or if there are clear grounds to suspect that the ship and/or its equipment or crew may not be in substantial compliance with the relevant convention requirements, a more detailed inspection is undertaken. This attracts a fee which is currently set at A$272/hr.

For all inspections a ‘Form A’ is completed to indicate that an inspection has been carried out. When deficiencies are noted, a ‘Form B’ is additionally completed.

When undertaking an initial inspection the AMSA Inspector will utilise the pocket-sized guidelines and the list of certificates and equipment as the basis for the inspection. Whilst it is important to remember that the guidelines and lists are not exhaustive they are intended to provide the basis for an initial inspection sufficient to identify potentially unseaworthy vessels. The equipment indicated below for example, although limited in number, represents the items responsible for almost 90% of all detentions.

Whilst the Inspector is checking the vessel’s documentation and certificates the Master would typically arrange for requested items of equipment to be ready for inspection and testing during the physical inspection of the vessel. Most items of equipment do not require lengthy preparation being intended for emergency use but all requested tests of equipment are carried out by the vessel’s crew in a manner to ensure everybody’s safety.

In cases where clear grounds exist to do so, the Inspector may conduct a more detailed inspection. Depending on the circumstances, this may be limited to a particular aspect of the ship or equipment or in some cases may involve more extensive expansion of the inspection.

The AMSA Inspectors use their professional judgement in conducting the inspection, determining the extent of inspection and in determining the required action required in response to identified deficiencies.

Regional Cooperation

The IMO Assembly Resolution A.682 (17) “Regional Cooperation in the Control of Ships and Discharges” recognised that more effectiveness could be gained from regional cooperation in port State control rather than by States acting in isolation. The key to such regional cooperation is ensuring that substandard ships do not have access to ports where they can call with impunity. Regional cooperation also allows member States to share information on inspection results and ensure follow-up of deficiencies found during inspections that may not be able to be rectified in the initial inspection port.

Australia is a signatory and active member of both the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (IOMOU) and Asia Pacific Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Tokyo MOU).

PSC Inspection Continuing Areas of Concern

Whilst historically the percentage of vessels detained in Australia, as a percentage of vessel inspections, remains in the range around 4.5%-8.0% it is noted from our data that certain items of equipment, or certain general areas of safety on board, are consistently responsible for a vessel’s detention. This is very frustrating for AMSA as a Port State Control body bearing in mind that AMSA publish detention information, including the deficiencies responsible for the detention, every month on the AMSA website and also publish an Annual Port State Control (PSC) reports which provides detailed PSC data and analysis of that data. All parties involved in ship management, operation and ownership that have a responsibility for the safety of the crew, cargo and vessel (including seafarers themselves) are encouraged to review all such data regularly and use the information provided to improve the level of safety of the systems and vessels they are involved with.

AMSA continues to find detainable items without having to conduct detailed inspections. AMSA feels that a number of these can be overcome by ship crews being observant and vigilant when conducting their routine testing. It is acknowledged that crews have many demands on their time these days however attention to detail and a good working knowledge of onboard systems and arrangements may have a positive impact on reducing deficiencies and detentions.

Some of the current and most common items giving rise to deficiencies and accounting for almost 90% of detention are:

Hours of Rest and Fatigue

Incidents in Australian waters, such as the grounding of the Shen Neng 1, heighten concerns about the causal effect fatigue may have in relation to accidents and incidents, particularly where human error is identified as a possible factor. Port State Control inspections incorporate checks for compliance with the hours of rest requirements of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping 78/95 (STCW 78/95). During a routine PSC inspection these checks would normally be limited to checks of the records of hours of rest/work but recent incidents in Australian waters, where fatigue appears to have been a factor, have led AMSA to carry out more focussed examination on hours of rest as part of the initial PSC inspection. This may include an examination of other evidence, such as log books (including cargo and other operational records), and verbal confirmation with watchkeepers during the inspection. It should be noted that where there is evidence that hours of rest are not in accordance with the STCW Convention AMSA will require corrective action and may consider detaining the vessel under the International Safety Management (ISM) Code where there is evidence that the non-compliance is of a repeated and systematic nature.

Life-saving Appliances

This aspect accounts for around 22% of all detentions. Within this category, the main item is:


The vast majority of lifeboats in use are provided with a hook release system that operates both off-load (the boat is floating and the weight is off the hooks before they can be opened) and on-load (the hooks can be opened with the full weight of the boat, it’s equipment and a full complement of personnel on the hooks). When the hook release system is incorrectly maintained, or is operated incorrectly/inadvertently, there is a risk of the boat falling from any height with personnel on board. PSC inspections worldwide have identified numerous deficiencies with lifeboat release systems whereby the boat may fall unexpectedly and invariably to discover these deficiencies it is necessary to enter the boat since the release system cannot be seen from outside the boat. For this reason, AMSA Inspectors will require an additional securing of the lifeboat prior to their entry into it. Further information on this can be found in Marine Notice 02/2014.

With additional securing in place it is much safer for the AMSA Inspectors, who have no knowledge of the release system maintenance standard nor its overall condition, to enter the lifeboat to carry out the necessary checks. Where deficiencies are noted with the lifeboat on-load release (OLR) system(s) our Inspectors will detain the vessel until such time as the release system has been assessed by a Lifeboat Technician. The dangers of incorrectly maintained or incorrectly reset lifeboat hook release systems are not only very real – they can be lethal.

lifeboat photo

Modern on-load release systems utilise a hydrostatic interlock system that, when it is operating correctly and maintained according to the Maker’s instruction, provides an automatic interlock which physically prevents the main hook release lever from being operated until the boat is waterborne. To operate the main lever in the on-load release mode it is necessary to manually operate the hydrostatic interlock and this is normally possible by removing or breaking a cover on the interlock device. AMSA Inspectors often discover lifeboat release systems where the interlock is not in a position whereby it prevents the main lever from being operated. There is always a visible indication provided by the Maker as to whether the system is interlocked (safe) or not and invariably this indicator shows that the system is not interlocked.

hydro overrid in danger area photo interlock not in locked position photo

Even where the release levers and interlock appear to be correctly positioned and reset, deficiencies can arise if the connections between each of the devices in the release system are not maintained in their original condition. Morse cables (similar to brake cables on a bicycle) are common connections between the hydrostatic unit and the interlock, and also between the release lever(s) and the hooks. Moisture can damaged cables and through rust, can cause mechanisms to become stiff to operate or cause only one hook to release, or for one hook to release before the other.

hydro rod image broken cable photo

Similarly loose or missing cable clamps can allow the morse cable to move relative to the release lever and hook which effectively alters it’s length. Again this can allow one hook to release before the other. Obviously it is essential that both hooks release simultaneously when the OLR system is deliberately operated.

lifeboat photo lifeboat being dropped in water photo

Finally it is essential that individual components remain substantially in their original condition. When excessive force is used to reset a system, for example, this can lead to deformation of levers and cable clamping plates. Whilst the safety devices can be correctly in position on a system with bent components, clearly the relative positioning of the hook operating cables may have been altered and it is probable that the hooks will not operate simultaneously. If the deformation is sufficient it may actually cause either (or both) hooks to operate without warning on-load and may prevent correct resetting of either (or both) hooks.

cable system photocam photo

The experience of AMSA with these issues in recent times is that what is identified during the PSC often is just a small part of defects identified when the lifeboat technicians inspect the system in general.

The cause of these problems may be influenced by poor design, but may also be contributed to by poor inspection, maintenance and lack of familiarity from ships crew.

It is suggested that ships should routinely verify the following to reduce the chance of detentions:

  • Lifeboat secured properly.
  • Lifeboat release hooks reset properly and indicators, where fitted, show correct position.
  • Lifeboat release operating lever locked and reset properly.
  • Lifeboat release interlock arrangements locked and reset properly.
  • Lifeboat release indicators clear and in correct position.
  • Lifeboat release instructions fitted within boat and crew aware of correct operation.
  • Crew aware of routine maintenance requirements and this carried out in accordance with manufacturers instructions.
  • Lifeboat painter release operable.

Lifeboat Engines and Steering

Where required and/or fitted, our Inspector may request that any (or all) lifeboat engine(s) are demonstrated in a running condition. All such engines should be able to be started without undue delay although there may be restrictions on some engines and/or shafting arrangements relating to the length of time the engine and/or shaft can be operated without the boat being in the water. Our Inspectors will require any demonstration to be as complete as the design limitations will allow but the initial start and brief demonstration of propulsion capability is essential evidence that the propulsion unit is likely to be in compliance with regulations. A failure to demonstrate the engine running may in itself be grounds to consider detention, particularly where there is clear evidence the engine or it’s components are not complete or are not maintained.

The means of steering the boat can also create problems at PSC as this is also usually verified.

It is suggested that ships should routinely verify the following to reduce the chance of detentions:

  • Lifeboat engine sufficient fuel and de-watered as necessary.
  • Lifeboat engine able to be started.
  • Lifeboat propulsion able to be run ahead and astern.
  • Lifeboat engine starting batteries maintained and in good condition.
  • Lifeboat engine operation understood and able to be demonstrated by crew.
  • Lifeboat means of steering, main and emergency able to be demonstrated.

Fire Fighting Equipment

This aspect accounts for around 26% of all detentions which are predominately made up of problems with:

Fire Dampers

Defective fire dampers continue to be presented to our Inspectors despite continued PSC data indicating these items are a leading cause of detention. The purpose of a fire damper, wherever fitted, is to provide a closure that primarily prevents the ingress of air to a space. Unfortunately AMSA continually finds that the required maintenance and testing of the damper is not carried out and the dampers fail to close as required. During a PSC inspection AMSA Inspectors may request that any damper closure is demonstrated and any failure of a damper to close the aperture is regarded as being grounds for detention.

damper photo damper photo

In monitoring this testing, the AMSA Inspector observes the effort required by the crew in operating the damper, the damper is free to move over its full range of travel and observes for any signs of imbalance in the damper operation and listens for any sounds within the mechanism. If the fan is running, a noticeable difference in sound of the fan can be heard when the damper is operated. Usually, correct operation of the damper/s can be confirmed without any need to open the casing for inspection.

It is suggested that ships should routinely verify the following to reduce the chance of detentions:

  • Fan dampers are properly marked as open/close.
  • Fan damper locking pins are free to be removed without significant effort.
  • Fan damper operating handles are free to move without significant effort.
  • Fan damper operation is smooth and operates through the full range of open to close.
  • Fan damper maintenance is carried out to ensure fan mechanism and attachment of discs/louvers to shafts are effective.

Emergency Fire Pump, fire mains and isolating valves

The emergency fire pump continues to provide grounds for detention when it fails to pressurise the fire main. Often it is apparent that part of the pump arrangement essential for it’s correct operation is missing or otherwise defective – for example many of these pumps are of a type requiring a positive suction head but are located where a sufficiently positive head is not naturally present and it is apparent that the provided priming arrangement has failed to operate.

When the emergency fire pump fails to pressurise the fire main it is a common misunderstanding that this is acceptable whilst working cargo where it has been necessary to ballast the vessel to achieve a certain draft or air draft (in relation to cargo operations). From a PSC point of view this kind of operation could only be undertaken where equivalent levels of safety are ensured in all aspects of the operation. Therefore the ballasting and vessel’s condition must at all times be according to the approved loading plan but with respect to the emergency fire pump this unit’s correct operation at all times must be taken into account as well. An emergency fire pump must perform under all normally expected conditions of list and trim and it is reasonable to expect it to operate at all drafts between lightest ballast draft and maximum loaded summer draft. If the pump is not able to perform at or between any draft(s) this should be noted on board so that steps can be taken to ensure alternative arrangements are in place before carrying out any operation that places the pump at a non-operational draft. For example if an adequate shore-connection is made and operational for the entire time the emergency fire pump is not available this can be considered to be an equivalent level of safety for the purposes of SOLAS. It must be borne in mind, however, that if the shore-connection is removed and the emergency fire pump is not operational this still provides grounds for detention. Similarly arrival in a condition whereby the pump is already effectively disabled due to draft is also grounds for detention and remains so until equivalent arrangements are physically in place and proven to be effective.

Fire main isolating valves are also an important component of the fire system and their operation will generally be checked during the inspection. There are times where the AMSA Inspector may be uncertain as to the source of water pressuring the fire main system. In such cases testing the engineroom fire main isolating valve during the emergency fire pump test, may serve two purposes. Firstly that the source of water pressure is in fact the emergency fire pump and secondly, that the isolating valve is effectively operable.

As part of this aspect of PSC, the AMSA Inspector will also generally verify the integrity of the fire main. This is often done either during or shortly after testing the emergency fire pump. The level of inspection is simply a visual inspection as the AMSA Inspector walks around the deck of the ship.

Defects noted with the fire pump, fire hoses, isolating valves or the fire main in general are all grounds for detention.

leaking fire hose photo leaking pipe photo

It is suggested that ships should routinely verify the following to reduce the chance of detentions:

  • Condition of fire hoses and fire main verified and maintained.
  • Condition of fire hose nozzles verified routinely as operating correctly.
  • Emergency fire pump tested routinely and effective operation confirmed without excessive human intervention or external priming (unless class approved).
  • Emergency fire pump priming system (if fitted) verified routinely as operating correctly.
  • Fire main isolating valves maintained and confirmed routinely as operating fully and isolating effectively.


This aspect accounts for around 4% of all detentions. The main item detained for is:

Oily Water Separator (OWS)

An operational Oily Water Seperator (OWS) is the evidence an AMSA Inspector requires to be reasonably certain that MARPOL and/or Australian regulations have been, and can continue to be, complied with.

The two major items AMSA Inspectors are able to observe with respect to the OWS functioning correctly are the Oil Record book (ORB) and the OWS itself. Entries in the ORB may be inaccurate and this may lead to an impression that the book data is intentionally inaccurate because oil has been discharged other than in accordance with the regulations.

The OWS is fitted with a monitoring device that measures the oil content of the discharged liquid and an arrangement is provided to allow a simple test of that monitor to ensure any safety devices fitted operate correctly. These devices may include a pump stopping device or a recirculating valve but in any case the actual functions will be as required by the regulations.

AMSA Inspectors will request that an alarm condition be simulated and if the required events do not occur this can be considered grounds for detention. Our Inspectors also report occasional oil monitor problems whereby the unit indicates a level of oil in the discharge, even when fresh water is being used for the test, or whereby the monitor continuously indicates an oil level above the alarm point and the system remains in that alarm condition at all times. These situations may be grounds for detention but AMSA Inspectors will always try to expand the inspection of the OWS sufficiently to determine if there is another cause for the indicated problem. This may include requesting that the filtering/coalescing unit(s) are opened for inspection to assist in determining if the unit has been adequately maintained as a whole. It should be noted that any testing of the OWS must be carried out without any actual discharge overboard taking place.

If clear grounds exist, the AMSA Inspector may also ask for a section of piping after the monitor be removed for internal inspection.

It should also be noted that the OWS is designed with two main elements, the actual separator and the discharge monitor. A defect with either element may constitute grounds for a detention.

Oily Water Separator photo

It is suggested that ships should routinely verify the following to reduce the chance of detentions:

  • All Oil Record Book entries completed according to Marpol.
  • Operation of the OWS able to be demonstrated.
  • Operation of the OWS monitor able to be demonstrated.
  • Verification that the associated monitor, alarm and stopping device are operational.

Communication equipment

This aspect accounts for around 12% of all detentions.

The radio installation onboard is of vital importance to the ship to enable it to communicate in an emergency situation to provide for the safety of the crew. It is also important to the ship as a means of receiving important navigational and safety messages that can be used to allow the ship to avoid situations. Thirdly, it is vital for the safety of other ships and seafarers should they become in a situation whereby they require assistance. In these cases it is of great comfort to those in distress to know that other ships can receive their message and perhaps be in a situation to provide direct assistance.

AMSA often find that this latter aspect is forgotten by individual ships who feel that as long as they can transmit a message, the vessel is substantially compliant. In this regard the functional requirements of the GMDSS are very clear.

AMSA Inspectors will routinely request for a test of the GMDSS installation. This may be the MF/HF, Inmarsat or VHF systems, including DSC as appropriate. The arrangement for provision of secondary source of power to the radio installation is also part of this test and this aspect has been giving rise to increased detentions lately.

The 406Mhz EPIRB is also vital for emergency distress signalling.

It is suggested that ships should routinely verify the following to reduce the chance of detentions:

  • Verify operation of MF/HF DSC by test call, including acknowledgment – maintain a record.
  • Verify operation of VHF DSC by test call to second unit – maintain record.
  • Verify operation of Inmarsat C by link test – maintain record.
  • Verify that correct Navarea is selected for reception of MSI – maintain record.
  • Verify operation of all equipment on reserve source of power.
  • Maintain radio installation and power supply in proper condition.
  • Ensure training and familiarization with equipment is given as appropriate.
  • Ensure 406MHz EPIRB is stored appropriately, routinely tested and ready for use.

Emergency generators

As with the communications equipment, the emergency source of power to other critical systems is very important.

As part of the standard AMSA PSC, we will generally request a demonstration of the emergency generator. This will usually be simply a no-load, manual start or if fitted, auto-start based on a simulated black-out condition. As a general rule, the test requested will not impact upon shipboard operations. AMSA continues to find examples where either the generator will not start or if started, will not provide power as required.

It is suggested that ships should routinely verify the following to reduce the chance of detentions:

  • Emergency generator and associated starting batteries maintained.
  • Testing of the emergency power system routinely tested.
  • Testing requirements of the emergency power system included in safety management system.
  • Appropriate crew trained and familiarized with emergency power supplies.
  • When running, verify that generator supplies appropriate voltage and frequency.


Loadline items accounts for around 12% of all detentions.

The watertight integrity and structural strength of the ship is critical for safety of the ship, its personnel and for protection of the marine environment.

AMSA Inspectors take note of these items at each PSC inspection and commonly find the self closing arrangements on air pipes for tanks defective.

loadline photo loadline photo loadline photo

They also take particular note of hatch sealing and securing arrangements. Any of these items, if identified as being defective, will be considered for detention.

It is suggested that ships should routinely verify the following to reduce the chance of detentions:

  • Tank air pipe closing arrangements routinely inspected and verified for operation.
  • Hatch securing arrangements routinely inspected for correct operation.
  • Hatch sealing arrangements routinely inspected for correct operation.
  • Ships structure routinely inspected for integrity and any deteriorations.

International Safety Management (ISM) Code and Safety Management System (SMS) Deficiencies

This aspect accounts for around 13% of all detentions.

Frequently there is evidence during an inspection that there are several deficiencies which are related to one particular area – for example fire-fighting capabilities or life-saving appliances. Where vessels are mandated to have an ISM system they will have on board an SMS. The purpose of the Code and the SMS is to provide a safe system for all operations on board and numerous deficiencies in one area may indicate that the SMS itself has failed in some way – either the deficiencies have resulted from something that is not adequately covered in the SMS or the SMS adequately covered the issues but the system was not effectively implemented on board.

In these circumstances it is possible that deficiencies may be issued under the ISM Code in addition to the individual deficiencies issued under other regulations and Conventions. It should also be noted that these ISM deficiencies can also be grounds for detention where the apparent problem with the SMS indicates a major failure of the system. A detainable deficiency under the ISM Code can normally only be considered for release after the issuing ISM Authority has carried out an additional audit of the SMS. Other ISM deficiencies are normally given a code to reflect thee months in which to complete rectification recognising the time it takes to properly follow-up, document and execute changes to an SMS.

It should be noted that any detainable deficiency identified by an AMSA Inspector may be considered as grounds for a more detailed inspection of the SMS and may also be grounds for an ISM detention.

The most common elements of the ISM Code that result in detention are lack of effective maintenance, lack of, or ineffective corrective action (the problem was known about and nothing was done, or the corrective action was not effective or appropriate), lack of emergency preparedness (lifesaving, fire fighting or communication arrangements not ready for use or unable to be demonstrated etc) and lack of compliance with mandatory rules and/or regulations.

In regard to all the previously noted items that are common detainable deficiencies, it should be acknowledged that an effective maintenance and emergency preparedness system within the SMS should prevent those detainable items arising. However, also noting that ships operate in severe environment, defects do occur and in this case, the routine inspections required by the ISM maintenance requirements and the corrective action processes of the SMS should also identify these defects promptly and ensure that appropriate and effective action is taken.

It is suggested that ships should routinely verify the following to reduce the chance of detentions:

  • Maintenance systems are effective.
  • Lifesaving, fire fighting and communication systems are ready for use.
  • Training in emergency arrangements are effective.
  • Defects are identified, reported and acted upon in a timely manner.
  • Crew are aware of their roles and responsibilities.

Detention/Release of Unseaworthy/Substandard Ships

Detention of a ship is part of a process that ensures critical deficiencies are rectified before the ship can depart. When a ship is detained/released, AMSA notifies the flag State and the relevant classification society. Details of all detentions are also forwarded to the International Maritime Organization. As Australia is a party to the Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) on Port State Control in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions, information on detained ships is published on the MOU websites at Tokyo MOU and IOMOU.

Provisions are given in SOLAS Regulation 11(c) and IMO Resolution 787(19) provision 2.6.7, that if a Master advises his Administration, Class and local Port State Authorities of a deficiency that has, or may, impact on the vessel’s seaworthiness, that deficiency should not be considered as grounds for detention, unless the ship intends to sail with the deficiency un-actioned. This does not mean that a deficiency will not be recorded, nor that the vessel will be permitted to depart without rectifying a normally detainable deficiency. It merely means that actions to rectify the deficiency will be monitored to ensure proper remedial actions are taken and that the vessel can be considered to be seaworthy before it is allowed to depart.

AMSA provides an opportunity to the Master early in each PSC inspection to declare prior to the inspection commencing, whether any known defects exist. The AMSA Inspector will ask the Master directly and will also ask the Master to sign a declaration to the effect. Masters should note the significance of this question as this is an opportunity for the Master to advise the AMSA Inspector or any defects and what remedial actions are in place. In doing so, it is possible that the Master may avoid a detention or deficiency being given, even if this reporting to the flag State or Recognised Organisation has not already been given.

Prior to this, all Masters and operators should be aware of the legal reporting requirements of s185 and s186 of the Navigation Act 2012.

It must be borne in mind that a detention occurs at the time a deficiency is noted and the AMSA Inspector considers there are clear grounds for detention due to that deficiency. This decision is made irrespective of the scheduled time of departure of the vessel. AMSA PSC inspections are carried out under IMO Resolution A.787(19) as amended and this defines detention as:

Intervention action taken by the port State when the condition of the ship and its crew does not correspond substantially with the applicable conventions to ensure that the ship will not sail until it can proceed to sea without presenting a danger to the ship or persons on board, or without presenting an unreasonable threat of harm to the marine environment, whether or not such action will affect the normal schedule of the departure of the ship.

Whilst it is entirely possible that a deficiency may be rectified whilst the inspection continues it is not possible to allow any particular length of time for any detainable deficiency to be rectified either by not issuing a deficiency at all or by issuing a non-detainable deficiency whilst repairs are carried out or attempted. Also issuing a PSC action code other than 30 (detention) does not ensure the vessel will not sail before the deficiency which warrants detention according to the given definition is rectified.

Undue detention or delay and appeals

Every effort is made to avoid undue detention of or delay to a ship. The decision to detain a ship may be legally reviewed under the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975. The procedure for the review is outlined on the detention form itself.

AMSA are however cognisant of the fact that many issues that an Owner/Manager wishes to have a response to can be satisfactorily addressed or explained by an exchange of messages. The AMSA Manager Ship Inspection contact details are provided on every Form A and B to allow such an exchange to take place. All messages sent to the address are actioned as quickly as possible but time will be taken to ensure the complete facts are included in all responses. The time taken to send a response may therefore include delays whilst we refer the query to the attending AMSA Inspector and appropriate Managers and depends on individual’s work and leave commitments.

Through this email address, AMSA will also acknowledge reporting regarding ships ‘closing’ deficiencies, however it should be noted that database records cannot be updated with this information unless the corrective action is sighted by either an AMSA Inspector or by a port State Control Officer from another Tokyo MOU member.

Further information on Australia's PSC program may be obtained from the inspecting Inspector or by writing to:

Contact the Port State Control group at AMSA.

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