ARTICLE
15 April 2024

Going Remote: Malta Flag Embraces Remote Inspection Techniques For Vessel Surveys

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On the 2nd April 2024 the Merchant Shipping Directorate within Transport Malta published Technical Notice IRO.7.
Malta Transport
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On the 2nd April 2024 the Merchant Shipping Directorate within Transport Malta published Technical Notice IRO.7. This notice informs Recognised Organisations (ROs) and interested parties, of the flag's acceptance and recognition of the use of Remote Inspection Techniques (RITs) onboard Malta flagged vessels.

RITs are a form of survey that allow for the examination of any section of a vessel's structure and equipment without requiring it to be directly and physically accessible to surveyors and encompasses the use of divers, unmanned robot arms, drones and remote operated vehicles, amongst others.

Any inspection technique adopted shall reflect those listed in the latest IACS REC 42 Guidelines for Use of Remote Inspection Techniques and shall additionally need to conform to the RO's Rules. The RITs must be approved by the respective RO as being practicable and satisfactory and shall only be carried out where the proper equipment and suitably qualified staff is available.

The Malta flag recognises that RITs have the potential to enhance safety standards, as such surveys enable the inspection of areas that are typically challenging to access and facilitate surveys conducted in confined spaces or at elevated heights, thereby decreasing the likelihood of accidents. Additionally, RITs may be conducted while the vessel is at sea, allowing surveyors to identify and address any potential risks or deficiencies through inspections and to implement mitigating measures or temporary repairs before the vessel arrives at port.

When incorporating RITs into the Enhanced Survey Programme (ESP), ROs must verify that the inspection techniques employed are, at a minimum, comparable to the means of access outlined in the International code on the enhanced programme of inspections during surveys of bulk carriers and oil tankers, 2011 (ESP Code) which establishes a survey standard for the regular and safe survey of the cargo and ballast areas of oil tankers and bulk carriers. Moreover, the criteria for close-up surveys outlined in the ESP Code must be met using the most appropriate and preferred techniques available.

Considering the above, ROs acting on behalf of the Malta flag may aptly revise their Malta country file and surveyor instructions to reflect this update. The adoption and recognition of RITs by the Malta flag is testament to the flag's sensitivities of the everchanging technological realities of the shipping market and its willingness to facilitate the needs of the shipowner.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

ARTICLE
15 April 2024

Going Remote: Malta Flag Embraces Remote Inspection Techniques For Vessel Surveys

Malta Transport

Contributor

Fenech & Fenech Advocates logo
Established in 1891, Fenech & Fenech Advocates is a multi-disciplinary full service law firm with diverse areas of expertise, including corporate and commercial law, M&A transactions, financial services, tax, immigration, banking, trusts and foundations, aviation, intellectual property, maritime law and marine litigation, yachting, employment law, environmental law and various other areas.
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