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A beginner’s guide to the Baltic 99 questionnaire

A guide for anyone who wants to understand the Baltic 99 questionnaire

Chapter 6: Classification society, surveys and certificates

In chapter 2 we discussed the role of the Classification Societies. This section of the Baltic 99 requires all the information relevant to the vessel’s class status. For further information about what the Classification Societies are and how they work, you may refer to the IACS website here.

5.1. NAME OF CLASSIFICATION SOCIETY AND CLASS NOTATION:

The classification society is the organization who issues the relevant class certificates and its name is inserted here. The classification notations are symbols indicative of the specific rule requirements which have been met.

Additional voluntary notations are offered by individual societies and may be selected by an owner wishing to demonstrate that the vessel conforms to a particular standard that may be in excess of that required for classification.

Depending on the classification society, the classification notations are assigned to the ship according to ship type, service, navigation and/or other criteria which have been provided by the owner and/or builder, when requesting classification.

Classification notations assigned to a ship are indicated on the Certificate of Classification.

5.2. DATE OF LAST SPECIAL SURVEY:

According to the rules of the classification societies and international regulations, ships are subject to a through-life survey regime in order to be retained in class. Each classed vessel is subject to a specified programme of periodic surveys after delivery. These are based on a five-year cycle and consist of annual surveys, an intermediate survey in the middle of the 5-year cycle and a class renewal/special survey (held every 5 years).

Here, the date that the last special survey took place should be inserted. The date of the last special survey can be found in the class status of the vessel. Also, this information is available in the Equasis.org website.

5.3. DATE OF LAST ANNUAL SURVEY:

Annual surveys take place every year. The certificate of Classification (which is renewed every five years) has an endorsement for the annual and the intermediate surveys.

Upon the completion of each survey, the Class signs and stamps the relevant box of the Certificate of Classification and the date of each annual survey can be found there. It is also available in the class status document and Equasis.org.

5.4.A. IS VESSEL ENTERED IN CLASSIFICATION APPROVED ENHANCED SURVEY PROGRAMME (YES/NO):

Enhanced Survey Programme (ESP) is a guideline for shipping companies and owners to prepare their ship for special surveys to maintain the safety of the ship while at sea or at port. A survey programme is to be prepared by the owner and is to be submitted to the classification societies 6 months prior to the survey.

When the vessel is entered in a class approved Enhanced Survey Programme, there is the relevant abbreviation (“ESP”) in the class notation and can be found in the Certificate of Classification.

5.4.B. DATE OF LAST INSPECTION:

This is the date of the last class inspection. Either the annual/intermediate or the Special. This can be found in the Certificate of Classification or the Class Status or Equasis, in the same way as mentioned in sections 5.2 and 5.3 above.

5.4.C. DATE OF NEXT INSPECTION:

Τhe next expected inspection should take place about 1 year after the last one. The time windows during which this should take place are mentioned in the Certificate of Classification.

5.5.A. DOES VESSEL COMPLY WITH IACS UNIFIED REQUIREMENTS REGARDING NUMBER 1 CARGO HOLD AND DOUBLE BOTTOM TANK STEEL STRUCTURE? (YES/NO):

These requirements apply to all bulk carriers of 150 m in length and above intending to carry solid bulk cargoes having a density of 1,78 t/m3. Therefore, in this case the vessel should follow the unified requirements of IACS and it should be usually shown in the notation of the Certificate of Classification which shall mention “heavycargo” or something similar.

5.5.B. HAS THIS COMPLIANCE BEEN VERIFIED BY THE CLASSIFICATION SOCIETY? (YES/NO)?

If this compliance is verified by the classification society it is mentioned in the Certificate of Classification; in the vessel’s notation. Please see also 5.5.A above.

5.6. DATE AND PLACE OF LAST DRYDOCK:

Every vessel needs to be taken into a dry-dock in specific intervals in order to examine the condition of the under-water hull as well as the under-water fittings and machinery.

According to international rules, two Docking Surveys are to be held in each five-year Special Survey period and the maximum interval between successive docking Surveys is not to exceed three years.

One of the two Docking Surveys required in each five-year period is the Special Survey while between the 2nd and the 3rd year of the survey cycle, there is a docking which coincides with the Intermediate survey.

Therefore, here the date of last drydock and place/port of where it was conducted should be inserted.

5.7. HAS VESSEL BEEN INVOLVED IN ANY GROUNDINGS OR COLLISION IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS? IF SO GIVE FULL DETAILS:

In case of any grounding or collision the vessel may experience further problems, which could affect her tradability. For this reason, the Baltic Questionnaire is asking for details (date, port occurred, incident, damages occurred etc).

The information, if applicable, will be provided by the operations department.

5.8. IS VESSEL ISM CERTIFIED:

The International Safety Management Code was implemented by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). The Code applies to all cargo ships of 500 GT or higher and its purpose is to provide an international standard for the safe management and operation of ships and for pollution prevention.

The Code establishes safety-management objectives and requires a Safety Management System (SMS) to be established by the company who operates the ship. The company is then required to establish and implement a policy for achieving these objectives. This includes providing the necessary resources and shore-based support. Every company is expected “to designate a person or persons ashore having direct access to the highest level of management”.

The procedures required by the code should be documented and compiled in a Safety Management Manual (part of the SMS-Safety Management System), a copy of which should be kept on board. Also, according to the ISM code each vessel should have an SMC (Safety Management Certificate) while each company operating a vessel should have a valid Document of Compliance (DOC).

The SMC and DOC are issued by the flag states or by the Classification Societies/or similar audit organizations under the authority of the flag states, they are mandatory for any bulker of 500 GT or larger and they are valid for 5 years. Therefore, here we should check whether the vessel has a valid SMC and also whether the company that operates/manages her has a valid DOC.

In points 5.8.A. and 5.8.B. the issuing authority of the DOC and SMC should be mentioned (i.e. the organization/class which issues the certificates and the flag stage who authorizes the issuance) along with the number of the certificate. This information can be found in the relevant certificates. Also, the date of last audit is required. “Audit” means a process of verification, through the collection of objective evidence, to determine whether the SMS complies with the requirements of the ISM Code and whether the SMS is implemented effectively to achieve the Code’s objectives.

The DOC is subject to annual audit while the SMC is subject to an intermediary audit (between the 2nd and 3rd year of its anniversary). During the audits, in case of any deficiencies the auditors mention their recommendations so as the Safety Management System to be in line with the Code. The Baltic 99 is asking for those recommendations to be mentioned in section 5.8.C.

5.9. ADVISE DATE AND PLACE OF LAST PORT STATE CONTROL:

Port State Control (PSC) is an internationally agreed regime for the inspection of foreign ships in other national ports by inspectors of the national port authorities. This regime was first appeared in Europe in 1982, when the Paris Memorandum of Understanding (Paris MoU) was established and afterwards more regional MoUs came into force around the world.

The regime of the Port State Controls is very important since the port authorities can inspect the vessels at their discretion in order to ensure that international regulations are being followed and the vessels are maintained according to the international standards.

This information is exchanged between the countries and the port authorities so that they have a clear picture of the vessel’s condition before she calls at their port.

Any deficiencies found during the PSC inspection are recorded, while in case of serious deficiencies the vessel is detained by the port authorities until the deficiencies are rectified and a successful follow-up inspection takes place. In this point of the Baltic Questionnaire, the date and place/port of the last port state control should be mentioned.

This information is also available in Equasis.org website but also the vessel’s Master or the operations and marine departments can provide a copy of this PSC report which includes the date/port and details of all the deficiencies, if any.

5.10.A. DID VESSEL PASS MOST RECENT PORT STATE CONTROL INSPECTION WITHOUT DETENTION:

As explained in 5.9 above, in case serious deficiencies are found during the PSC inspection, the port authorities may detain the vessel until the deficiencies are rectified. Therefore, in this point, whether a detention took place should be mentioned. The PSC report will mention the details of any detention. This information can also be found in the Equasis.org website.

5.10.B. STATE OUTSTANDING RECOMMENDATIONS, IF ANY:

The managers of the vessel should rectify any deficiencies even if they did not result in detention and in some cases a Port State Control Inspection may take place either at the same or at the next port of call in order to follow-up.

Therefore, any such deficiencies which remain outstanding should be mentioned in this box. In order to respond this question, need to check with the operations and/or marine department of the company whether any of the deficiencies mentioned in the last PSC still remain outstanding.

5.11. IS VESSEL’S CREW COVERED BY FULL ITF OR BONA FIDE TRADE UNION AGREEMENT ACCEPTABLE TO ITF:

The ITF (International Transport Worker’s Federation) negotiates agreements with international organisations, including maritime employers and manning agencies, to secure minimum standards and conditions for larger groups of seafarers. ITF-approved collective agreements set the wages and working conditions for all crew on FOC vessels, irrespective of nationality. All vessels covered by an ITF-approved agreement get a certificate, which imply the agreed wages and working conditions on board.

Instead of the ITF, some vessels use other Trade Union Agreements, acceptable to ITF (e.g. POEA – Philippines Overseas Employment Agency). Here, whether the vessel is covered by ITF or other such union agreement should be mentioned.

This is an important point since this is required in order for the vessel to be able to call specific ports around the world. This information can be found either in the crew contracts or the ITF certificate, if any. The crew department can also provide this information if needed.

5.12. IF VESSEL HAS ITF AGREEMENT STATE NUMBER, DATE OF ISSUE AND EXPIRY DATE:

Further to 5.11. above, if the vessel holds an ITF agreement the number and the dates of issuance and expiration should be mentioned. The crew department or the Master can provide this information or a copy of the agreement if needed.

5.13. Certificates:

In various sections of this guide, we have referred to vessels’ certificates which include important details about the vessel, her condition and her operations. The vessels must comply with specific international regulations and in order to ensure this the classification societies - as we described in sections 5.1-5.4 above - perform surveys and issue certificates either directly or under the authority of the flag states in others.

Each certificate includes the date of issuance, the expiration date and an appendix that the annual and intermediate endorsements are taking place. A list of the main certificates can be found here.

5.14. DO ANY RECOMMENDATIONS APPEAR ON ANY OF THE ABOVE CERTIFICATES? IF YES STATE FULL DETAILS:

In case the vessel does not conform with all the requirements of the convention that each certificate refers to, the class inserts a recommendation which should be rectified within a specific period of time. Details of these recommendations should be mentioned here, since they may affect the vessel’s trading schedule.

5.15. IMO REGISTRATION NUMBER:

In Chapter 2, section 1.6 we explained the use of the IMO registration number and its use in shipping. It is also inserted in this point of the Baltic Questionnaire.

5.16. EXPIRY DATE OF FMC CERTIFICATE:

This is a license which is issued by the Federal Maritime Commission of the USA to the Non-USA NVOCC (Non-vessel Operating Common Carriers) in order to be able to facilitate shipments from the USA. Since this certificate refers to NVOCC (i.e. companies who do not own vessels but act as operators and issue their own Bill of lading or waybill), it is not always applicable. If applicable, this certificate/license is renewed every 3 years.

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