The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has published MIN 612, a marine information notice which sets out the policy of the MCA with respect to UK Vessels which are prevented from arranging the relevant surveys, inspections and audits required for compliance with the appropriate Statutory Instruments due to the current pandemic.
In MIN 612 the MCA sets out contingency plans to mitigate disruption to essential statutory activities during the current pandemic. The aim of the notice is to provide a basis for the continued operation of UK vessels during this time.
The MCA encourages ship operators to arrange the survey, audit and/or inspection of their vessels at the earliest opportunity within the window provided by the regulations and, where the operation of the vessel permits, in an area with no or limited instances of infection by COVID-19.
The Notice states that if the vessel is located in the UK ship operators must contact the local Marine Office in the first instance, who will advise as to the availability of an MCA surveyor to undertake the survey process. Should the MCA not be in a position to undertake such activities, the operator is permitted to make arrangements for the conduct of the activities directly with a recognised organisations (RO).
Any short-term certificates issued by an RO will remain valid for not more than 3 months from the date of expiration of the current certificate, or the closure of the required window for the conduct of the required activity.
The MCA has highlighted that the Master is the one responsible to ensure that the ship is maintained and operated according to the statutory requirements for the duration of the short-term certificate.
When it is not possible for a surveyor to conduct a survey or audit on board, if the original certificate has been issued by the MCA, then the short-term certificate will be issued by the MCA on the basis of the declaration received.
Additional temporary regulations specifically for operators of vessels certified under the MCA SCV Codes of Practice
Within this section the term survey should be taken to mean annual, mid-term or renewal examinations and the term certificate should be taken to include any annual endorsement of the five-year certificate.
Operators of vessels scheduled for survey during the period of the outbreak should in the first instance contact their certifying authority to make arrangements for the required survey within the required timescales.
In circumstances, where no certifying authority surveyor is available as a consequence of the COVID-19 outbreak, the MCA authorises the Certifying Authority (CA) to issue a short-term certificate on the basis of a declaration from the operator that the vessel remains in compliance with the requirements of the relevant instrument following the
template in Annex A. The short-term certificate should be valid for not more than three months from the date of expiration of the previous certificate or the closure of the appropriate survey window.
On expiration of the short-term certificate, or earlier if the circumstances permit, the required survey should be undertaken, and a new certificate issued with an expiration date aligned with that of the original certificate.
Operators should ensure that annual inspections for self-certification are completed as required.
During the period of the short-term certificate the requirement for an annual disc is waived.
No short-term certificate may be issued to a vessel requiring an initial survey which has not been previously certified.
Download and read the new marine information notice: MIN 612 – Survey Guidance – Coronavirus