Port State Control (PSC) inspections are carried out under the authority of international conventions to verify that a vessel:

  • Maintains valid documents and certificates in accordance with relevant conventions
  • Is fit for intended service (e.g. hull and machinery)
  • Is not a pollution risk
  • Provides the crew a healthy and safe working environment.

Initially, the PSC inspection generally consists of a visit on board to verify that necessary certificates and documents are valid. The initial visit also gives the inspector an opportunity to judge the general appearance and condition of the vessel.

Detailed inspections are warranted when the vessel does not satisfy the above criteria to determine whether the ship is substandard and/or not fit for service.

Grounds for PSC inspectors carrying out a detailed inspection:

  • A report or notification received from another authority
  • A report or complaint from the master, a crew member, or any person or organization with a legitimate interest in the safe operation of the ship or in the prevention of pollution
  • The finding of serious deficiencies during the preliminary inspection.

In many instances, the deficiencies noted by the PSC inspector are rectified while the inspector is still aboard, and the vessel allowed to depart on schedule. Other deficiencies may require further action to rectify and the ship may be detained until satisfactorily resolved.

Once detained, inspectors verify deficiencies are rectified before the ship is allowed to proceed to sea. Additionally, the inspector may:

  • Notify flag Administration
  • Require flag Administration or recognized organization to review deficiencies and confirm satisfactorily resolved
  • Allow the ship to proceed to another port for repairs if it cannot be repaired at the current port, notifying the PSC authority of the vessel's next port of call and the flag Administration.

Numerous port authorities throughout the world have implemented port state control inspections and are maintaining databases to monitor owners who are operating substandard vessels. Vessels or owners may be targeted based on their PSC performance.

The most active Port Authorities in 2021 were United States, Australia, and Canada.

Additionally, PSC may carry-out concentrated inspection campaigns targeting specific focus areas.