Yachts in Europe: new marine safety inspections from Jan 2011

Yachts could be caught in the inspection net now that vessel inspection routine is to change from 25% to 100% in a range of countries
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Yacht owners in or intending to visit Europe Russia or Canada take note.

Effective Jan. 1, 2011, the member states of the Paris 'Memorandum of Understanding' (MOU - an administrative agreement between 27 mostly European maritime authorities) will implement a New Inspection Regime (NIR) for ships and could have a significant impact on yachts, according to Capt. Jake DesVergers, chief surveyor for www.yachtbureau.org!International_Yacht_Bureau, an organization that provides inspection services to private and commercial yachts.


Writing for http://thetriton.com!The_Triton, Captain_DesVergers points out that up until now inspections of yachts by European countries was non-existent because only 25% of ships were inspected and yachts were of low priority.

However, he says, with the introduction of the NIR, the Paris MOU will change its target of inspecting 25 percent of individual ships calling at each Member State to a shared commitment for full coverage (100 percent) of inspecting all ships visiting ports and anchorages in the Paris MOU region as a whole.

Now that the Paris MOU intends to inspect all vessels in European waters, the likelihood of a yacht being paid a visit by a marine safety inspector is increased. Vessels are inspected under such categories as type of vessel, age, flag, class society, owner and/or manager, and inspection history.

The targeting factor for ships and yachts will be determined by the Ship Risk Profile, which classifies vessels into one of three categories: Low Risk Ships (LRS), Standard Risk Ship (SRS), and High Risk Ships (HRS). Each of these categories will have a different interval for a safety inspection. Ships and yachts identified as LRS will be visited once every two years. SRS will be every year. HRS will undergo an inspection every six months.

One of the more controversial aspects of the NIR is the Paris MOU’s requirements for qualifying as a Low Risk Ship. A key component of that qualification will be the flag in which the yacht is registered.

For a flag to be entered into this elite grouping, the flag administration must be on the existing 'white list' of the Paris MOU and have completed the voluntary audit scheme imposed by the IMO.

To date, there are only 16 flags approved for the Low Risk category: Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

It is readily apparent that several prominent yacht registries are absent from the above country listing. That does not mean that a yacht will be automatically denied entry into Europe. It simply means that the yacht cannot qualify for the Low Risk category and may be inspected annually versus every two years.

The flags on the Black List will bring additional scrutiny, says Captain DesVergers. There are 24 flags on the 2009 Black List, including Sierra Leone, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica, Belize, and Honduras. These lists are updated, as needed, online at www.parismou.org.

At a minimum, Captain DesVergers advises, it will be important to monitor the first few months of implementation in Europe. This will give a sampling of what to expect when the summer season begins in the Med.

The countries currently expected to implement the MOU are Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
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