In a digital discussion about remote surveys, IUMI focused on the benefits and the challenges arising when conducting remote surveys, noting that several organizations have already started conducting remote inspections.

To better explain, remote surveys and inspections mean that surveyors do not have to be physically present on board a vessel, which is especially important during these challenging times caused by COVID-19.

Paul Fry, Senior Vice President, Head of Hull, London, SKULD, highlighted that “the show must go on” and despite the barriers that came from the social distancing restrictions, surveys have to continue so that vessels can sail and continue their journey.

Given that remote operations are a new trend, the industry is accepting that there will be a difference in tolerance, expecting delays or a difference in the quality of the services. However, it is noted that the level of assurance coming from a remote survey should be equivalent to an attendance.

To get a better understanding of remote technologies and the regulations, ABS issued back in 2019 a guide called “The use of remote inspection technologies”, referring to the different kinds of remote inspection technologies (RITs) which can assist the attending Surveyor in evaluating the condition of the structure. Remote Inspection Technologies (RITs) enable a Remote Inspection Vehicle (RIV) to provide access for the inspection of structures. Some common types of RIV include Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicles (ROVs), and Robotic Crawlers. These RITs also provide a benefit to the asset Owner/Operator by reducing operational intrusiveness.


How is the industry conducting remote surveys?

  • Via vibration monitoring
  • Live streaming
  • Drones
  • AIS vessel tracking
  • Underwater imagery

It is obvious that technology is the base of the remote inspections. It is anticipated that remote audits and surveys can be a common activity in the future. However, as already stated, there are some challenges.

Pros Cons
No need for physical attendance Remote surveys is a new trend for the industry
Applications launched for surveys; e.g. Rina’s portable headset with camera complete with head-up display and a new smartphone app Connectivity to stream remains a challenge
Protection of employees’ health by following the social distancing guidelines Challenging to have a 360ᵒ view of the ship when the audit is remotely conducted
Participants are taking full advantage of technology Attendance survey is still more efficient for periodical surveys since remote survey requires more preparation from crew and class and execution takes longer time.
Owners and operators have easy access to the collected data and are able to create a maintenance plan that can predict the requirements of individual vessels. Survey with attendance will remain the preferred solution for complex and time consuming surveys and older vessels
When the survey is conducted, and the surveyors have evaluated a ship’s compliance, an electronically signed e-certificate can be issued when applicable.


In addition, although the digital era comes with many advantages, Paul Fry, Senior Vice President, Head of Hull, London, SKULD, commented that

In attendance or remotely, a survey is only as good as the surveyor undertaking it.

According to ABS, access to remote surveys and audits allows for business continuity, particularly during challenging times that may create scheduling conflicts, personnel or logistical issues such as the current COVID-19 period.

Concluding, during the digital discussion, Stener O. Stenersen, Acting Head of Department Technical Support Norway, DNV GL – Maritime, stated that pre-COVID they declined 12% of requested remote surveys as they couldn’t achieve the same level of assurance. Yet, DNV GL is now conducting its surveys remotely after launching its Machinery Maintenance Connect (MMC) is its new remote approach to the machinery planned maintenance system (MPMS).