The Vessel Oil Record Book: Ensuring Accurate and Clear Records for Maritime Compliance

The vessel Oil Record Book (ORB) serves as a crucial document in the maritime industry, detailing the management of oil-related activities onboard ships. Maintaining accurate and clear records within the ORB is not only essential for operational and safety purposes but also a legal obligation for vessel operators. In this article, we will look into the significance of keeping meticulous records in the ORB, outline the specific entries that need to be recorded, explore the responsibilities of the crew, shed light on the legal aspects surrounding the ORB, discuss inspections by different authorities, and explain why the vessel master’s countersignature is paramount.

Example of an Oil Record Book

Accurate and clear records within the vessel ORB play a vital role in maintaining safe operations and preventing environmental pollution. These records provide valuable insights into the consumption, transfer, and disposal of oil-related substances onboard, allowing operators to monitor and optimize their operations. Furthermore, maintaining comprehensive records demonstrates the commitment of vessel operators to comply with international regulations and guidelines, avoiding potential penalties and legal repercussions.

The ORB contains specific entries that need to be recorded in a timely and accurate manner. As per Regulation 17 – Oil Record Book, Part I (Machinery space operations):

    • Every oil tanker of 150 gross tonnage and above and every ship of 400 gross tonnage and above other than an oil tanker shall be provided with an Oil Record Book Part I (Machinery space operations). The Oil Record Book, whether as a part of the ship’s official log-book or otherwise, shall be in the form specified in appendix III to this Annex.
    • The Oil Record Book Part I shall be completed on each occasion, on a tank-to-tank basis if appropriate, whenever any of the following machinery space operations takes place in the ship:

    1. Machinery space operations:
      • Details of oil transfers: This includes the quantity of oil transferred, the location (from/to), the date and time of transfer, and the equipment used for the transfer.
      • Bilge water operations: Any discharge or disposal of bilge water containing oil must be recorded, specifying the quantity discharged and the method used.
      • Sludge and oily residue disposal: Entries should be made for the discharge or incineration of sludge or oily residues, including the quantities disposed of and the location of disposal.
    2. Ballast and fuel oil tank operations:
      • Ballast or Fuel tank cleaning: Records should be maintained for tank cleaning operations, including the date and time of cleaning, the method used, and the tank(s) cleaned.
      • Discharge of dirty ballast or cleaning water from fuel oil tanks: Entries must be made for ballasting and deballasting operations, indicating the quantity of water transferred, the tanks involved, and the date and time of the operation.
    3. Accidental or exceptional discharges:
      • Accidental oil discharges: If any accidental or unauthorized discharge of oil or oily mixtures occurs, detailed entries must be made. This includes the circumstances leading to the discharge, actions taken to mitigate the discharge, and subsequent clean-up operations.
      • Exceptional discharges: Entries should also be made for any exceptional discharges, such as the release of oil due to necessary repairs or damage to equipment. The details of the discharge and the reasons behind it should be recorded.
    4. Bunkering operations:
      • Fuel bunkering: Entries must be made for bunkering operations, including the quantity and type of fuel received, the supplier’s name, the date and time of bunkering, and any issues encountered during the process.
      • Lubricating oil bunkering: Similar to fuel bunkering, records should be maintained for the quantity and type of lubricating oil received, the supplier’s details, and the date and time of bunkering.
    5. Any failure of the oil filtering equipment shall be recorded in the Oil Record Book Part I.

These entries are not exhaustive and may vary depending on the specific vessel and its operations. It is important to consult relevant regulations, such as MARPOL Annex I and II, as well as any additional requirements from flag states or port authorities, to ensure all necessary entries are included in the ORB. Each operation described above of this regulation shall be fully recorded without delay in the Oil Record Book Part I, so that all entries in the book appropriate to that operation are completed.

Example of recorded entries into Oil Record Book

Maintaining accurate recordings in the ORB is a shared responsibility among the crew members. Every individual involved in oil-related operations must understand their role in ensuring precise and comprehensive entries. Crew members should be trained on proper record-keeping procedures, emphasizing the importance of promptly and accurately documenting all relevant information. Effective communication among the crew is essential to ensure that the ORB reflects the true state of oil-related activities onboard.

Each completed operation shall be signed by the officer or officers in charge of the operations concerned and each completed page shall be signed by the Master of ship.

The entries in the Oil Record Book Part I, for ships holding an International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate, shall be at least in English, French or Spanish. Where entries in an official national language of the State whose flag the ship is entitled to fly are also used, this shall prevail in case of a dispute or discrepancy.

The ORB holds significant legal weight, as it serves as evidence of compliance with international conventions and regulations. The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) mandates the maintenance of an ORB as part of Annex I (Prevention of Pollution by Oil) and Annex II (Control of Pollution by Noxious Liquid Substances). Vessel operators must adhere to the requirements outlined in MARPOL, as well as any additional regulations imposed by flag states and port authorities.

The Oil Record Book Part I shall be kept in such a place as to be readily available for inspection at all reasonable times and, except in the case of unmanned ships under tow, shall be kept on board the ship. It shall be preserved for a period of three years after the last entry has been made.

To ensure compliance and deter pollution, various authorities conduct inspections of vessels and their ORBs. Port state control authorities, classification societies, and flag state administrations may carry out routine or random inspections to verify the accuracy and completeness of the ORB entries. These inspections also serve as a means to detect any potential violations of environmental regulations and to take appropriate actions, such as imposing fines or detaining non-compliant vessels.

The competent authority of the Government of a Party to the present Convention may inspect the Oil Record Book Part I on board any ship to which this Annex applies while the ship is in its port or offshore terminals and may make a copy of any entry in that book and may require the master of the ship to certify that the copy is a true copy of such entry. Any copy so made which has been certified by the master of the ship as a true copy of an entry in the ship’s Oil Record Book Part I shall be made admissible in any judicial proceedings as evidence of the facts stated in the entry. The inspection of an Oil Record Book Part I and the taking of a certified copy by the competent authority under this paragraph shall be performed as expeditiously as possible without causing the ship to be unduly delayed.

The vessel master’s countersignature in the ORB holds great importance. By signing the ORB, the master attests to the accuracy and completeness of the recorded entries. This countersignature signifies the master’s responsibility for ensuring that all oil-related activities were properly documented and conducted in accordance with applicable regulations. The master’s involvement in the ORB highlights the gravity of maintaining meticulous records and reinforces the commitment to environmental stewardship.

In conclusion, the vessel Oil Record Book serves as a critical document in the maritime industry, enabling the management of oil-related activities while ensuring compliance with international regulations. Accurate and clear records within the ORB are essential for operational efficiency, environmental protection, and legal compliance. The crew’s responsibility in maintaining precise recordings cannot be overstated, as it contributes to safe operations and the prevention of pollution. Regular inspections by authorities help verify compliance, while the vessel master’s countersignature underscores the commitment to accurate record-keeping and environmental responsibility. By prioritizing the maintenance of an accurate and clear ORB, vessel operators demonstrate their dedication to a sustainable and compliant maritime industry.

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If you wish to learn about “MARPOL – Annex on Oil”, please follow THIS LINK.

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What you need to know about Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI)

In June of 2021, the IMO Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) held its 76th meeting, where they adopted resolution MEPC.328(76) containing amendments to MARPOL Annex VI concerning mandatory goal-based technical and operational measures to reduce carbon intensity of international shipping. Developed under the framework of the Initial IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships agreed in 2018, these technical and operational amendments require ships to improve their energy efficiency in the short term and thereby reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

From 1 January 2023 it is mandatory for all ships to calculate their attained Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI), to measure their energy efficiency and to initiate the collection of data for the reporting of their annual operational carbon intensity indicator (CII) and CII rating. The attained EEXI shall be calculated for each ship and for each ship which has undergone a major conversion.

The required EEXI value is determined by the ship type, the ship’s capacity and principle of propulsion and is the maximum acceptable attained EEXI value.

The amendments to MARPOL Annex VI are in force from 1 November 2022. The requirements for EEXI and CII certification came into effect on 1 January 2023. This means that the first annual reporting will be completed in 2023, with initial ratings given in 2024.

Vessels impacted by EEXI must demonstrate compliance by their next survey – annual, intermediate or renewal – for the International Air Pollution Prevention Certificate (IAPPC), or the initial survey before the ship enters service for the International Energy Efficiency Certificate (IEEC) to be issued, whichever is the first on or after 1 January 2023.

A ship’s attained EEXI indicates its energy efficiency compared to a baseline. Ships attained EEXI will then be compared to a required Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index based on an applicable reduction factor expressed as a percentage relative to the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) baseline. It must be calculated for ships of 400 gt and above, in accordance with the different values set for ship types and size categories. The calculated attained EEXI value for each individual ship must be below the required EEXI, to ensure the ship meets a minimum energy efficiency standard.

The CII figures out the yearly reduction factor that is needed to make sure that a ship’s operational carbon intensity keeps getting better while staying within a certain rating level. The annual operational CII that was actually reached must be written down and checked against the minimum annual operational CII. This lets us figure out the operational carbon intensity grade.

The carbon intensity of a ship will be graded A, B, C, D, or E, with A being the highest. The rating indicates a performance level of major superior, minor superior, moderate, minor inferior, or inferior. The performance level will be documented in a “Statement of Compliance” that will be expanded upon in the ship’s Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP).

A ship rated D for three consecutive years, or E for one year,  will have to submit a corrective action plan to show how the required index of C or above will be achieved. Administrations, port authorities and other stakeholders as appropriate, are encouraged to provide incentives to ships rated as A or B.  A ship can run on a low-carbon fuel clearly to get a higher rating than one running on fossil fuel, but there are many things a ship can do to improve its rating, for instance through measures, such as: hull cleaning to reduce drag, speed and routing optimization, installation of solar/wind auxiliary power for accommodation services, installing main engine power limiters etc.

The easiest way to get the energy efficiency index down is to reduce engine power, as vessels’ fuel consumption and emissions, respectively, increase as speed increases. The propulsion power, thus CO2 emissions, is approximately proportional to the cube of the speed. This means that reducing speed by 20% can drop the emitted CO2 by 50%. Slow steaming, therefore, is a more carbon-efficient way to transport goods. The engine power limitation systems can be bypassed, but only if required for the safe operation of the ship, for example, in harsh weather conditions.

Example of mechanical EPL developed by MAN

The Engine Power Limiter (EPL) must be overideable and will limit engine power by restricting the fuel index to a calculated set value. This restricts the total amount of fuel that can be injected into the engine and thereby limiting the power the engine can produce. For correct installation, the EPL must limit the fuel index to match the engine power for MCRlim.

The Engine Power Limitation (EPL) as such does not alter NOx critical settings or components of the engine.

The calculation of the EEXI follows the calculation of the well-known EEDI. It is based on the 2018 calculation guideline of the EEDI, with some adaptations for existing vessels. In principle, the EEXI describes the CO2 emissions per cargo ton and mile. It determines the standardized CO2 emissions related to installed engine power, transport capacity and ship speed. The EEXI is a design index, not an operational index. No measured values of past years are relevant and no on-board measurements are required; the index only refers to the design of the ship.

The emissions are calculated based on the installed power of the main engine, the corresponding specific fuel oil consumption of the main engine and of auxiliary engines (taken from the engine test bed), and a conversion factor between the fuel and the corresponding CO2 mass. The transport work is determined by capacity, which is usually the deadweight of a ship and the ship speed related to the installed power.

The calculation does not consider the maximum engine power, but for most ship types it is 75% of MCR or 83% of MCRlim (in case of an installed overideable power limitation). Specific fuel oil consumption of the main engine and ship speed are regarded for this specific power.

In conclusion, the EEXI is applied to almost all ocean going cargo and passenger ships above 400 gross tonnage. For different ship types, proper adjustments of the formula, through correction factors have been introduced to allow a suitable comparison. Several correction factors are defined to correct the installed power, such as for ice-classed ships, as well as to correct the capacity, for instance to consider structural enhancement. From a technical perspective, all ship owners and shipbuilding stakeholders must consider and assess how they will support compliance with EEXI. Depending on the vessel age and prospects, some owners and operators may even be scrapping vessels earlier than envisioned.

If you have any questions regarding above, please feel free to use our existing forum Seafarer’s World and will try to answer to all your queries.

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Source and Bibliography:

Annual Surveys – Machinery requirements

As a continuation of my previous post with regard to the class survey  which can be found on this link, today we will explain about Annual Surveys – Machinery Requirements.

Surveyor in dry dock

Annual Surveys are supposed to take place at the same time as statutory annual surveys or other relevant statutory surveys whenever it is possible to do so. During the Annual Surveys, the surveyor is responsible for conducting an inspection of the ship and its machinery, to the extent that this is required and possible, in order to reach a conclusion regarding the general condition of both.

The annual survey must include:

    • An examination for the purpose of ensuring, as far as practicable, that the hull, hatch covers, hatch coamings, closing appliances, equipment and related piping are maintained in a satisfactory condition.
    • Examination of weather decks, ship side plating above the waterline, hatch cover and coamings.
    • Examination of watertight penetrations as far as practicable.
    • Examination of the weld connection between air pipes, ventilators and deck plating.
    • External examination of all air pipe heads installed on exposed decks.
    • Examination of flame screens on air pipes to all bunker tanks.
    • Examination of ventilators including closing devices, if any.
    • The surveyor is to be satisfied regarding the efficient condition of:
      • exposed casings, skylights, flush deck scuttles, deckhouses and companionways, superstructure bulkheads, side, bow and stern doors, side scuttles and deadlights, chutes and other openings, together with all closing appliances.
      • scuppers and sanitary discharges (so far as practicable); valves on discharge lines (so far as practicable) and their controls; guard rails and bulwarks; freeing ports, gangways and life-lines; fittings and appliances for timber deck cargoes.
      • bilge level detection and alarm systems on ships assigned a UMS notation.

The surveyor is to confirm that, where required, an approved loading instrument together with its operation manual are available on board and is to be satisfied regarding the freeboard marks on the ship’s side.

Surveyor checking vessel load line

The anchoring and mooring equipment is to be examined and the watertight doors in watertight bulkheads, their indicators and alarms, are to be examined and tested (locally and remotely), together with an examination of watertight bulkhead penetrations, so far as practicable.

The surveyor is to examine and test in operation all main and auxiliary steering arrangements including their associated equipment and control systems, and verify that log book entries have been made in accordance with statutory requirements where applicable.

Example of surveyor checking vessel machinery

The surveyor is to generally inspect the machinery and boiler spaces, with particular attention being given to the propulsion system, auxiliary machinery and to the existence of any fire and explosion hazards. Emergency escape routes are to be checked to ensure that they are free of obstruction.
The means of communication between the navigating bridge and the machinery control positions, as well as the bridge and the alternative steering position, if fitted, are to be tested.
The bilge pumping systems for each watertight compartment, including bilge wells, extended spindles, self-closing drain cocks, valves fitted with rod gearing or other remote operation, pumps and level alarms, where fitted, are to be examined and operated as far as practicable and all confirmed to be satisfactory. Any hand pumps provided are to be included.

Piping systems containing fuel oil, lubricating oil or other flammable liquids are to be generally examined and operated as far as practicable, with particular attention being paid to tightness, fire precaution arrangements, flexible hoses and sounding arrangements. The surveyor is to be satisfied regarding the condition of non-metallic joints in piping systems which penetrate the hull, where both the penetration and the non-metallic joint are below the deepest load waterline.

The main propulsion, essential auxiliary and emergency generators including safety arrangements, controls and foundations are to be generally examined. Surveyors are to confirm that Periodical Surveys of engines have been carried out as required by the Rules and that safety devices have been tested.
The boilers, other pressure vessels and their appurtenances, including foundations, controls, high pressure and waste steam piping and insulation and gauges, are to be generally examined. Surveyors should confirm that Periodical Surveys of boilers and other pressure vessels have been carried out as required by the Rules.
For boilers, the safety devices are to be tested, and the safety valves are to be operated using the relieving devices. For exhaust gas heated economisers/boilers, the safety valves are to be tested at sea by the Chief Engineer and details recorded in the log book.
The operation and maintenance records, repair history and feed water chemistry records of boilers are to be examined.
For other pressure vessels, the safety devices are to be examined.
The electrical equipment and cabling forming the main and emergency electrical installations are to be generally examined under operating conditions so far as practicable. The satisfactory operation of the main and emergency sources of power and electrical services essential for safety in an emergency is to be verified; where the sources of power are automatically controlled they should be tested in the automatic mode. Bonding straps for the control of static electricity and earthing arrangements are to be examined where fitted.
The electrical installation in areas which may contain flammable gas or vapour and/or combustible dust is to be examined in order to verify that it is in good condition and has been properly maintained.

For main propulsion, essential auxiliary and emergency machinery control engineering systems, a general examination of the equipment and arrangements is to be carried out. Records of modifications are to be made available for review by the attending Surveyor. The documentation required Control Engineering Systems, including configuration management, are to be reviewed following system modifications to confirm compliance with applicable Rules. Satisfactory operation of the safety devices and control systems is to be verified. For ships having UMS notation, a general examination of the control engineering equipment required for these notations is also to be carried out.

For ships fitted with an electronically controlled engine for main propulsion, essential auxiliary or emergency power purposes the following is to be carried out to the satisfaction of the surveyor:

    • Verification of evidence of satisfactory operation of the engine and where possible this is to include a running test under load.
    • Verification of satisfactory operation of the safety devices and control, alarm and monitoring systems.
    • Verification that any changes to the software or control, alarm, monitoring and safety systems that affect the operation of the engine have been assessed by Class and are under configuration management control.

Dead ship starting arrangements for bringing machinery into operation without external aid are to be tested to the Surveyor’s satisfaction.

On ships fitted with a dynamic positioning system, the control system and associated machinery items are to be generally examined and tested to demonstrate that they are in good working order. For ships classed with DP (AA) or DP (AAA) notations surveyors are to review records of the annual testing to confirm the ship’s ability to keep position after single failures of any component or system and, in addition, surveyors are to witness testing conducted alongside as far as is practicable.

For ships to which a PM or PMC notation has been assigned, the thruster assisted positional mooring system, control system and associated machinery items are to be generally examined and tested under operating conditions to an approved Test Schedule.

For ships fitted with positional mooring equipment in accordance with  Positional Mooring and Thruster-Assisted Positional Mooring Systems, a schedule or rota of moorings to be examined at Annual Survey should be agreed for component parts of the positional moorings.

For ships having an On-Shore Power Supply notation assigned, a General Examination of on-shore power supply arrangements is to be carried out.

For ships to which Fire Protection, Detection and Extinction Requirements applies, the arrangements for fire protection, detection and extinction are to be examined and are to include:

    • Verification, so far as practicable, that no significant changes have been made to the arrangement of structural fire protection.
    • Verification of the operation of manual and/or automatic doors where fitted.
    • Verification that fire-control plans are properly posted.
    • Examination, so far as possible, and testing as feasible, of the fire and/or smoke detection and alarm system(s).
    • Examination of fire main system, and confirmation that each fire pump, including the emergency fire pump can be operated separately so that the two required powerful jets of water can be produced simultaneously from different hydrants.
    • Verification that fire-hoses, nozzles, applicators and spanners are in good working condition and situated at their respective locations.
    • Examination of fixed fire-fighting systems controls, piping, instructions and marking, checking for evidence of proper maintenance and servicing, including date of last systems tests.
    • Verification that all portable and semi-portable fire-extinguishers are in their stowed positions, checking for evidence of proper maintenance and servicing, conducting random checks for evidence of discharged containers.
    • Verification, so far as practicable, that the remote control for stopping fans and machinery and shutting-off fuel supplies in machinery spaces and, where fitted, the remote controls for stopping fans in accommodation spaces and the means of cutting off power to the gallery are in good working order.
    • Examination of the closing arrangements of ventilators, funnel annular spaces, skylights, doorways and tunnels, where applicable.
    • Verification that the firemen’s outfits are complete and in good condition.

The examination of salt-water ballast tanks is to be carried out as follows:

Salt-water ballast tanks, other than double bottom ballast tanks, on all ships (excluding oil tankers and chemical tankers) where it has been identified at a previous Special Survey or Intermediate Survey that:

    • A hard protective coating has not been applied from the time of construction; or
    • A soft or semi-hard coating has been applied; or
    • A hard protective coating is found to be in POOR condition, as defined in 1.5, and the hard protective coating is not repaired to the satisfaction of the Surveyor.

If the conditions listed above are applicable to double bottom ballast tanks, then these tanks may be subject to examination at the Annual Survey at the discretion of the surveyor. The examination of the salt-water ballast tanks, in accordance with the above, is to include thickness measurements to confirm the condition of the hull structure.

The surveyor is to carry out an examination and thickness measurement of structure identified at the previous Special Survey or Intermediate Survey as having substantial corrosion. The survey will not be considered complete until these additional thickness measurements have been carried out. For cargo holds and ballast tanks of bulk carriers built in accordance with the IACS Common Structural Rules (CSR), the annual thickness measurement may be dispensed with where a protective coating has been applied in accordance with the coating manufacturer’s requirements and is maintained in good condition.

When a Ballast Water Treatment System (BWTS) is placed on a vessel, a general inspection needs to be performed in order to verify that the BWTS is being kept in proper working condition and is being maintained properly. This is to include the inspection and testing of safety and protective equipment, as well as the fixed fire detection and alarm system(s), gas detection and alarm system(s), and associated BWTS emergency shutdown devices, as applicable. Examining the ventilation arrangements of the room in which the Ballast Water Treatment System (BWTS) is installed under working conditions should be done to the greatest extent that is practically possible. The operational and maintenance records are to be made available to the attending surveyor at the time of the Annual Survey in order to ensure the BWTS and associated safety devices/systems are operating satisfactorily.

If you have any questions regarding above, please feel free to use our existing forum Seafarer’s World and will try to answer to all your queries. You can use the feedback button as well!

If you like my posts, please don’t forget to press Like and Share. You can also Subscribe to this blog and you will be informed every time when a new article is published. Also you can buy me a coffee by donating to this website, so I will have the fuel I need to keep producing great content! Thank you!

Source and Bibliography:

  • Lloyd Register
  • DNV
  • American Bureau of Shipping


What do you need to know about vessel surveys in general

There were a lot of questions and queries, from different engineers, about vessel surveys and would like to clarify as much as I can about the type of surveys, their periodicity and requirements. Nonetheless, I am sure that I might unintentionally forget or omit something and for that I would beg for your understanding and thank you in the same time for your correction and any additional information related to this subject.

There are different types of surveys that takes place in a vessel lifetime and unfortunately, schools, colleges and universities doesn’t have a proper subject on the matter or doesn’t prepare an aspiring marine engineer for these type of experiences and activities, unless will attend a specific surveyor course. Everything is learned “on the field”, throughout engineer personal experience or with help of his/her senior officers.

The type of surveys are generally as follow:

    • Statutory surveys
    • New construction surveys
    • Existing ships survey
    • Damages, repairs and alterations
    • Existing ships – periodical surveys
    • Surveys for novel/complex systems, machinery and equipment

Statutory surveys

When given the authority to do so on behalf of national or international governments, the Classification Committee will act in accordance with national and international statutory safety and other requirements for passenger and cargo vessels.
In the event that it is given the authority to do so, the Classification Committee will also act in regard to National Safety and other standards that pertain to ships that are employed for offshore resource exploration and exploitation.

New construction surveys

Constructional plans and all necessary particulars relevant to the hull, equipment, and machinery, as detailed in the Rules, are to be submitted for approval prior to the commencement of any work when it is intended to build a ship for classification with a Classification Society. This must be done before any work is started. The proposals for any later alterations or additions to the scantlings, arrangements, or equipment shown on the authorized plans are also required to be submitted in writing and on plans for approval. These proposals can be made at any time after the plans have been accepted.

Example of new building in shipyard

Special tests or examinations before and during service may be necessary where the proposed construction of any part of the hull or machinery is of novel design, involves the use of unusual material, or where experience, in the opinion of the Classification Committee, has not sufficiently justified the principle or mode of application involved. A suitable notation may be used in these circumstances.

When a ship, upon completion, is not immediately commissioned but is laid-up for a period, the Classification Committee, upon application by the Owner, prior to the ship proceeding to sea, will direct an examination to be made by the Surveyors which may include a survey in dry-dock. If, as the result of such a survey, the hull and machinery be reported in all respects in accordance with applicable Rule requirements, the subsequent Special Survey and Complete Survey of the machinery will date from the time of such examination.

Existing ships survey

    • Classification of ships not built under survey – this refers to the requirements of the Classification Committee for the classification of ships which have not been built under the present Classification Society. Special consideration will be given to ships transferring class to actual Classification Society from another recognized Classification Society.
    • Reclassification – when reclassification or class reinstatement is desired for a ship for which the class previously assigned by actual Classification Society has been withdrawn or suspended, the Classification Committee will direct that a survey, appropriate to the age of the ship and the circumstances of the case, be carried out by the Surveyors. If, at such a survey, the ship be found or placed in a condition in accordance with the requirements of the Rules and Regulations, the Classification Committee will be prepared to consider reinstatement of the original class or the assignment of such other class as may be deemed necessary.
    • Unscheduled surveys – where the Classification Committee has concern about the condition of a ship and/or the equipment an unscheduled survey may be required at any time to determine the actual condition.

Damages, repairs and alterations

All repairs to hull, equipment and machinery which may be required in order that a ship may retain her class, are to be carried out to the satisfaction of the surveyors. When repairs are effected at a port, terminal or location where the services of a Surveyor to actual  Classification Society are not available, the repairs are to be surveyed by one of the surveyors at the earliest opportunity thereafter.

Vessel surveyor checking and marking rudder defects during dry docking

When, at any survey, the surveyors consider repairs to be immediately necessary, either as a result of damage, or wear and tear, they are to communicate their recommendations at once to the Owner, or his representative. When such recommendations are not complied with, immediate notification is to be given to the Classification Committee by the surveyors.

Where repairs are to be carried out by a riding crew during a voyage then these must be planned in advance. A complete repair procedure, including the extent of proposed repair and the need for Surveyor’s attendance during the voyage, is to be submitted reasonably in advance to the Surveyor for agreement. Failure to notify the Classification Society in advance of the repairs may result in the class of the ship being specially considered by the Classification Committee. Where emergency repairs are effected immediately due to an extreme emergency circumstance, the repairs should be documented in the ship’s log and submitted thereafter to the Classification Society for use in determining further survey requirements.

When, at any survey, it is found that any damage, defect or breakdown is of a nature that does not require immediate permanent repair, but is sufficiently serious to require rectification by a prescribed date in order to maintain class, a suitable condition of class is to be imposed by the surveyors and recommended to the Classification Committee for consideration.

Plans and particulars of any proposed alterations to the approved scantlings and arrangements of hull, equipment, or machinery are to be submitted for approval, and such alterations are to be carried out to the satisfaction of the surveyors.

Existing ships – periodical surveys

Annual Surveys are to be held on all ships within three months, before or after each anniversary of the completion, commissioning or Special Survey in accordance with the requirements of Periodical Survey Regulations. The date of the last Annual Survey will be recorded on the Class Direct website.

Intermediate Surveys are to be held on all ships instead of the second or third Annual Survey after completion, commissioning or Special Survey. The Intermediate Survey may be commenced at the second Annual Survey and progressed with completion at the third Annual Survey. The date of the last Intermediate Survey will be recorded on the Class Direct website. The concurrent crediting of items towards both Intermediate Survey and Special Survey is not permitted.

The Owner should notify the Classification Society whenever a ship can be examined in dry-dock or on a slipway. A minimum of two Bottom Surveys are to be held in each five-year special survey period and the maximum interval between successive bottom surveys is not to exceed three years. One of the two bottom surveys required in each five-year period is to coincide with the Special Survey. Consideration may be given in exceptional circumstances to an extension of the Bottom Survey, not exceeding three months, provided the interval between successive surveys does not exceed 36 months. A Bottom Survey is an examination of the outside of the ship’s bottom and related items, and is normally to be carried out with the ship in dry-dock. However, the Classification Committee may give consideration to alternate examination while the ship is afloat as an In-Water Survey, which however shall not be permitted for ships of 15 years of age and over. A bottom survey is considered to coincide with the special survey when held within the 15 months prior to the due date of the special survey.

Example of a vessel in dry dock for its special survey

Where the Special Survey of the hull is carried out on a Continuous Survey basis, the survey in Dry Dock may be held at any time within the five-year cycle. These Surveys become due at five-yearly intervals, the first one five years from the date of build or date of Special Survey for Classification as recorded in the Register Book, and thereafter five years from the date recorded for the previous Special Survey. Consideration may be given at the discretion of the Committee to any exceptional circumstances justifying an extension of the hull classification to a maximum of three months beyond the fifth year. If an extension is agreed the next period of hull classification will start from the due date of the Special Survey before the extension was granted. In this context ‘exceptional circumstances’ means unavailability of dry-docking facilities, repair facilities, essential materials, equipment or spare parts or delays incurred by action taken to avoid severe weather conditions.

Special Surveys may be commenced at the fourth Annual Survey after completion, commissioning, or previous Special Survey, and be progressed during the succeeding year with a view to completion by the due date of the Special Survey.  When Special Surveys are commenced prior to the fourth Annual Survey, the entire survey is to be completed within 15 months if such work is to be credited towards the Special Survey.

At the request of an Owner, it may be agreed that the Special Survey of the hull, for ships other than general dry cargo ships, bulk carriers, combination carriers, chemical tankers and oil tankers, be carried out on the Continuous Survey basis, all compartments of the hull being opened for survey and testing, in rotation, with an interval of five years between consecutive examinations of each part. In general, approximately one fifth of the Special Survey is to be completed each year and all the requirements of the particular hull Special Survey must be completed at the end of the five-year cycle. For ships more than 10 years of age, an examination of the ballast tanks is to be carried out twice in each five year cycle, i.e. once within the scope of the Intermediate Survey and once within the scope of the Continuous Survey. Ships which have satisfactorily completed the cycle will have a record entered in the Class Direct indicating the date of completion which will not be later than five years from the last assigned date of Complete Survey of the hull. The agreement for surveys to be carried out on Continuous Survey basis may be withdrawn at the discretion of the Classification Committee.

When, at the request of an Owner, it has been agreed by the Classification Committee that the Complete Survey of the machinery may be carried out on the Continuous Survey basis, the various items of machinery are to be opened for survey in rotation, as far as practicable, to ensure that the interval between consecutive examinations of each item will not exceed five years. In general, approximately one-fifth of the machinery is to be examined each year. If any examination during Continuous Survey reveals defects, further parts are to be opened up and examined as considered necessary by the Surveyor, and the defects are to be made good to his satisfaction.

Boiler survey in progress with attendance of an ABS surveyor

Upon application by an Owner, the Classification Committee may agree to an arrangement whereby, subject to certain conditions, some items of machinery may be examined by the Chief Engineer of the ship at ports where Classification Society is not represented, or, where practicable, at sea, followed by a limited confirmatory survey carried out at the next port of call where a surveyor is available. Particulars of this arrangement may be obtained from Classification Society. Where an approved planned maintenance scheme is in operation, the confirmatory surveys may be held at annual intervals, at which time the records will be checked and the operation of the scheme verified.

Where condition monitoring equipment is fitted, the Classification Committee, upon application by the Owner, will be prepared to amend applicable Periodical Survey requirements where details of the equipment are submitted and found satisfactory. Where machinery installations are accepted for this method of survey, it will be a requirement that an Annual Survey be held, at which time monitored records will be analyzed and the machinery examined under working conditions. An acceptable lubricating oil trend analysis programme may be required as part of the condition monitoring procedures.

Where any inert gas system is fitted for the protection of cargo tanks on board a ship intended for the carriage of oil or liquid chemicals in bulk, the system is to be surveyed annually.

Surveys for novel/complex systems, machinery and equipment

Where novel/complex systems, machinery and equipment have been accepted by Classification Society and for which existing survey requirements are not considered to be suitable and sufficient then appropriate survey requirements are to be derived as part of the design approval process. In deriving these requirements Classification Society will consider, but not be limited to, the following:

      • Plan appraisal submissions
      • Risk Assessment documentation where required by the Rules
      • Equipment manufacturer recommendations
      • Relevant recognised national or international standards


When the required reports, on completion of the survey of new or existing ships which have been submitted for classification, have been received from the surveyors and classification has been agreed, a Certificate of Classification may be issued by an authorized surveyor. After approval by the Classification Committee, a certificate of First Entry of Classification, signed by Classification Society Chairman or the Chairman of the Classification Committe, will be issued to Builders or Owners.

A Certificate of Class valid for five years subject to endorsement for Annual and Intermediate Surveys will also be issued to the Owners.

Classification Society surveyors are permitted to issue provisional (interim) certificates to enable a ship to proceed on her voyage (or to continue her service in the case of a fixed or tethered ship) provided that in their opinion it is in a fit and efficient condition. Such certificates will embody the surveyor’s recommendations for continuance of class, but in all cases are subject to confirmation by the Classification Committee.

On future posts will discuss about specific surveys (e.g boiler, screwshaft, hull and machineries etc.) where I will try try to explain in detail the requirements and necessary preparation prior surveyor attendance.

If you have any questions regarding above, please feel free to use our existing forum Seafarer’s World and will try to answer to all your queries.

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Source and Bibliography:

  • Lloyd Register
  • DNV
  • American Bureau of Shipping