The aim of the inspection is to assess whether the vessel is physically in a suitable condition for the purpose of the charter or proposed operation and that she will be operated in a safe manner during the period it is on charter. Thus the operation, manning, equipment and structure of the vessel need to be assessed.
The key principle in conducting an inspection is to only record what you see. A procedure stating that this or that is done in such a way is not a guarantee that it actually is. For proof of action, record books, the condition of equipment and casual discussion with crew members will confirm what is actually done. These substantiating observations should be recorded where appropriate in the inspection report.
Where the inspection has been constrained by time the inspector should record that fact and what particular areas or items have had limited inspection, in the inspection summary. In assessing the vessel the inspector should ask himself:
Does the vessel have adequate procedures and guidelines in place, both in type and content, to assist the master and crew to operate the vessel safely? Are they accessible to the crew?
Is the condition of the vessel such that there is a safe working and living environment for the master and crew? Condition and status of working spaces, decks, accommodation.
Does the condition of the vessel and her equipment reflect that the vessel is operated and maintained in a proper manner to provide a safe environment? Is equipment well maintained, is it well ordered? Does machinery turn freely?
Does the manner in which the master and crew carry out their responsibilities and job function convey a sense that they understand the need for a safe working environment and their responsibility to themselves and others for safety? This requires general observation throughout the period of the inspection.
Finally, think ‘Is this how you would want your ship to be were you master/chief engineer?’