Reducing Vessel Detentions

5 January 2017

Republic of the Marshall Islands flagged ships have a reputation of quality and value worldwide

“The key to overseeing safety, security, and environmental compliance on ships is ensuring that the crew on board understands that looking after those safety aspects of a ship is just as important as moving cargo from port to port,” Brian Poskaitis, Senior Vice President, Fleet Operations, International Registries, Inc. (IRI) explains. “Time pressured crew all too often focus on actions needed to keep the ship moving and cargoes loaded/discharged, putting the safety of the ship in second place. Issues such as maintaining firefighting equipment and lifeboats can sometimes come lower down the priority list.”

Brian Poskaitis, based in IRI’s Baltimore office, is a former United States (US) Coast Guard (USCG) officer with 26 years of active duty service. IRI provides administrative and technical support to the RMI Registry and today he manages the RMI Registry’s worldwide Maritime Safety program. The RMI’s Maritime Safety program takes a hands-on approach to active oversight of the safety of the fleet. Brian leads a team of highly skilled and professional Fleet Operations Managers that in turn manage a global inspection regime for the RMI Maritime Administrator (the “Administrator”). Fleet Operations personnel are actively engaged with port State control (PSC) regimes around the world. An important part of the RMI Registry’s value to its owners and operators is the demonstrated commitment shown when handling compliance issues with major PSC regimes like the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and the USCG.

Brian Poskaitis, IRI’s Senior Fleet Operations Vice President

Brian Poskaitis, Senior Vice President, Fleet Operations

Brian Poskaitis says,

“We are continuously tracking and monitoring the RMI fleet and where deemed necessary we do a real-time vetting and communicate port and flag State expectations directly with RMI flagged ships prior to arrival in a port. This ensures that RMI crews remain vigilant and are both prepared and confident when going through a PSC inspection. In fact, vessels entering the US are required to complete an extensive Critical Items Checklist prior to arrival in port. This ensures that awareness and preparedness are forefront before the ship arrives in US waters. The RMI also works closely with the operator and crew to help them prepare for inspections, undertaking quality control boardings, talking with the Captain, and further testing critical equipment. It is a fact that good ships, manned by well qualified crews can be and are detained for easily preventable deficiencies.”

Ships that experience continued problems with compliance are put on the watch-list and the  Administrator creates a plan of action to rectify the problems and closely monitor the ships. The RMI’s philosophy is to improve the safety record of the fleet while providing value to the owner and operator in terms of regulatory compliance and performance. This cannot be achieved by simply removing a ship from the Registry and the vessel moving to a lower quality flag. “We cannot do the work for the superintendents or the crews but we can pass on our extensive knowledge of operations and compliance, providing a valuable assessment of an owner’s fleet performance,” said Brian Poskaitis.  “This in turn can be translated into monetary savings of less operational delays and a better understanding of operational spending to target the biggest risks,” he continued.   

The RMI is the only major flag to remain on the USCG’s Qualship 21 list. This is not only a direct result of the Administrator’s proactive approach to maritime safety, security, and environmental protection, but also the result of the attention that crews on RMI flagged vessels are giving to the maintenance of the ship. The Administrator is aware that things do happen while at sea and remains available to assist in mitigating these issues prior to arrival at port. In order for the Administrator to assist, the Critical Items Checklist must be accurately completed and submitted in a timely fashion.

Inside track

Brian Poskaitis was himself once a senior USCG inspector and says that first impressions count.

A confident and well-prepared crew can mean the difference between a successful or unsuccessful PSC inspection. The ability of the crew to communicate effectively with the PSC team and to demonstrate their skills and knowledge on the use of critical shipboard equipment is paramount. In addition, their understanding and the actual demonstrated implementation of the Safety Management System (SMS) on board the ship is a key factor in a successful PSC inspection. All too often the crew is aware of the SMS and has done a fair job in maintaining the records, but when it comes to performance of shipboard drills or active maintenance of equipment on board, it is evident the implementation of the SMS is lacking.

“The complexity of ships today and the myriad amount of rules and regulations they are subject to are astounding.” Giving due regard to the ship’s fire safety and lifesaving systems, along with an active SMS, can make a real difference in bottom line of ship operations. “