Prevention of marine pollution - MARPOL 73/78 compliance


Published: 2 February 2006

Port State Control Concentrated Inspection Campaign

Our circular dated 8 June 2005 drew the attention of Members to the increasingly hard line being taken by port state authorities towards ships suspected of discharging oil at sea in breach of MARPOL regulations.

States which are party to the Tokyo and Paris Memoranda of Understanding on Port State Control have announced a concentrated inspection campaign for three months up to 30 April 2006 focusing on compliance with MARPOL 73/78 Annex I. Members must therefore expect rigorous control by port state inspectors of oil filtering equipment and procedures on board, such as proper maintenance of record books. 

Port state control inspectors will check the following items:

  • Does the vessel have Oil Filtering Equipment (OFE) on board?
  • Does the vessel’s OFE have an alarm and an automatic stopping device?
  • Is the OFE equipment type approved according to the IOPP certificate?
  • Is the 15ppm alarm correctly adjusted and operable?
  • Is the 3 way valve or the stopping device functioning?
  • Is the OFE system free of illegal by-passes?
  • Has the incinerator suitable for burning oil residues been marked in the IOPP certificate?
  • Has the auxiliary boiler suitable for burning oil residues been marked in the  IOPP certificate?
  • Are the sludge tanks free of illegal direct connections overboard?
  • Has the sludge pipeline a standard discharge connection to enable pipes of reception facilities?
  • Is there evidence that sludge and/or bilge water has been discharged into port reception facilities?
  • If sludge has not been discharged into port reception facilities, has the incinerator or the auxiliary boiler been used for burning sludge on board?
  • Is the remaining sludge and/or bilge water capacity sufficient for the intended voyage?

In a similar initiative, the United States Coast Guard has recently issued a policy letter setting out instructions to be followed during the course of Port State Control examinations in relation to enforcement of MARPOL 73/78 Annex I. This letter provides very clear guidance for both owners and crew as to what will be required on inspection in order to satisfy inspectors.

We also remind Members of the comments made in our Circular last June regarding cover. In short, P&I cover is not available for fines resulting from breaches of MARPOL or for non-accidental oils spills, other than on a purely discretionary basis. There is no cover where Members knew or ought to have known of the offence and failed to take reasonable measures to prevent it.