The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has released its Port State Control (PSC) Annual Report for 2021, which shows that detention and deficiency rates per inspection have continued to remain low.
- 26,400 ship arrivals by 6,170 foreign-flagged ships
- 2,820 PSC inspections
- 159 ship detentions.
- Bulk carriers accounted for 56.1 per cent of ship arrivals and 60.7 per cent of PSC inspections.
- PSC inspections were carried out at 53 Australian ports.
- The average gross tonnage per visit was 54,015 GT compared to 54,318 GT in 2020.
- The average age of ships calling Australian ports remained at 11 years, the same as 2020.
he 2021 detention rate sat at just 5.6%, down slightly from the 2020 detention rate of 5.9%. The 2021 deficiency rate per inspection was just 2.2, almost on par with the 2020 rate of 2.1.
AMSA Executive Director of Operations, Michael Drake, said the authority’s reputation for having a zero-tolerance approach to non-compliance with internationally agreed standards, continued to have a positive influence on the quality of ships being brought to Australia.
Despite a full year of COVID-19 restrictions, AMSA inspectors undertook 2,820 PSC inspections during 2021, a 6.65 per cent drop in the inspection rate from 2020 (3,021 PSC inspections). This was due to the continuation of procedures put in place in 2020 to protect both inspectors and crew from possible transmission of COVID-19 infection during inspections.
The PSC inspection results for 2021 saw a slight decrease in the detention rate of ships from 5.9 per cent in 2020 to 5.6 per cent (the peak in 2011 was 9.2 per cent).
The average deficiency rate remained relatively constant, increasing slightly from 2.1 deficiencies per inspection in 2020 to 2.2 deficiencies per inspection in 2021.
As noted in previous reports, from 2013 onwards, ships and operators with a record of poor performance can be refused access from entering or using Australian ports through a direction issued under section 246 of the Navigation Act 20121. In 2021, AMSA refused access to four ships for periods ranging from six to 36 months. Three of these directions were issued in response to significant breaches of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC).
Inspections by ship type
In 2021, AMSA inspectors carried out 2,820 initial PSC inspections and 1,455 follow up inspections. AMSA inspectors are now able to conduct remote follow up inspections in accordance with Tokyo Memorandum of Understanding guidelines, 35 of the follow up inspections in 2021 were conducted remotely.
The most inspections took place onboard bulk carriers, with 1,712, followed by container ships and chemical tankers.
Inspections by flag State
In 2021, Panama remained the flag State with the largest number of ships inspected by AMSA, with 624 Panamanian ships (22 per cent of the total) being subject to an initial PSC inspection.
The top five flag States remains unchanged since 2015 and inspections of ships from Panama, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Hong Kong China and Singapore accounted for 72 per cent of all PSC inspections in 2021. The top 12 flags, as listed in Table 6, accounted for 2,505 inspections, or 89 per cent of all inspections.
Deficiencies by category and ship type
A total of 6242 deficiencies were issued in 2021 with the average deficiencies per inspection being 2.21
The majority of deficiencies were issued to bulk carriers. However, this is not surprising given bulk carriers accounted for 56 per cent of ship arrivals and 61 per cent of all inspections.
Detainable deficiencies relating to the category of ISM remained the highest, though decreasing in share in 2021 (24 per cent of detainable deficiencies) as compared to 2020 (28.1 per cent of detainable deficiencies).
Along with ISM, the categories of fire safety, emergency systems, lifesaving appliances and water/weather-tight conditions were the top five categories of detainable deficiencies. The proportion of MLC-related detentions remained the 7th highest category.
AMSA exercised flexibility and worked with industry in its dealings with MLC related deficiencies during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Flexibility and proactive work with industry, specifically around seafarer repatriation, prevented a significant surge in detainable deficiencies relating to MLC.
The relatively high proportion of detainable deficiencies attributed in the ISM category suggests that safety management systems (SMS) are not properly and effectively implemented onboard.
While the proportion may be a cause of concern, history provides context. In 2013, the number of ISM detainable deficiencies peaked at 120 (31.2 per cent share of detainable deficiencies). While there was an increase in ISM deficiencies between 2018-2020, the decrease in ISM deficiencies between 2020 (28.1%) and 2021(24%) is a positive result.
Shipboard operations and maintenance were again the highest contributors to ISM detentions, followed by emergency preparedness.
Detentions by ship type
In 2021 AMSA detained 159 ships with an average detention rate of 5.6 per cent compared to 178 ships detained in 2020 with an average detention rate of 5.9 per cent.
The poorest performing ship type was heavy load carriers, followed by general cargo ships and container ships. General cargo ships have been in the top five poorest performing ship types for the past eight years while container ships have been in the top five for the past four years.
Bulk carriers represented the largest number of PSC detentions, as shown in Table 13. The bulk carrier detention rate was 6.1 per cent, and this detention rate remains higher than the average detention rate. This is a continuing and concerning trend as bulk carriers have exceeded the average detention rate for the last six years and are among the five worst performing ship types again in 2021, while also being the highest proportion of ship arrivals.
AMSA applies a dynamic risk profiling system to assist in allocating inspection resources in the most effective manner. The risk factor does not mean the ship is a high risk as such, it is simply a statistical tool to prioritise inspections. AMSA’s risk calculation uses multiple criteria to categorise ships into four priority groups, to calculate a risk factor for the ‘probability of detention’.
The risk profile of ships visiting Australian ports shows an increase in unique arrivals of priority one, two and four ships and a slight decrease in the unique arrivals of priority three ships.
AMSA achieved targeted inspection rates in all priority groups with an overall inspection rate of 39.8 per cent. This was achieved despite ongoing challenges of COVID-19 due to early implementation of precautionary measures to protect AMSA inspectors and ship’s crew during inspections.
In addition, the risk profile has been successful in identifying priority 1 vessels as these have had higher detention and deficiency rates compared to other vessels inspected in 2021. The identification of lowest priority vessels, those in priority 4, was also successful as these vessels had a lower detention and deficiency rate compared to other vessels inspected in 2021.
There was some disparity in 2021 between priority 2 and priority 3 vessels and their related deficiency and detention rates, this disparity also occurred in 2016 and 2019. In response to these results AMSA has implemented a project to review and improve our targeting system aligning it with a dynamic risk-based approach that utilises modern data related to inspections, incidents and industry capability.