The Nautical Institute and the International Institute of Marine Surveying jointly presented ‘The surveyor and the surveyed – on board interaction’ on MV Ocean Scene on 17th June 2015 at Seawork 2015, Southampton
A senior commercial shipping surveyor; a senior recently retired shipmaster and a senior small craft surveyor tackled the topic ‘The surveyor and the surveyed – on board interaction’. Each speaker was invited to address the attendees for about 10 to 15 minutes then the floor was opened up for open discussion.
Captain Ian Odd
Captain Odd was shipmaster for some 30 years, having spent his entire working life at sea. His experiences in dealing with surveyors ranged from their being basically incompetent to first class. To give an example, while on a 40,000 ton tanker, the first question he was asked by the regulatory surveyor was “Captain, is this ship a tanker?” One recent trend that has developed as the result of the survey regimes intensifying is the much improved standards on board ships. However there is a trend that where surveyors feel they must find and report on even very minor non-operational defects just for the sake of justifying their existence. On the other side of the coin, many ship crew are very good at “hoodwinking” attending surveyors and a good surveyor will be able to deal with such behaviour.
Captain Odd reflected the sometimes misguided approach taken by surveyors when requesting, or demanding, his and the crew’s time when wishing to perform a survey. After a difficult sea passage when everyone on board was fatigued very often the demands of surveyors were unreasonable; never more so when several surveyors wanted to receive instant access to the Master at the same time. As Master Captain Odd suggested there is a pecking order for survey priorities and this reflects the level of statutory authority they hold!
As a final point, there was room for more mutual respect between attending surveyors and the Master and crew. Don’t crack jokes; what is funny in one culture may be highly offensive in another. Finally, on board there must be reciprocated respect for the different cultures of the crew and surveyors.
Alan is a very experienced marine engineer and surveyor. In presenting the surveyor’s view point Alan drew on his 30 year surveying experience to recount how he came to early judgements when conducting ship condition surveys. The first pointer was access. Was the gangway properly rigged and safe? What was the demeanour of the crew when they met or accompanied the surveyor? Any shipboard inspection will be a combination of the required paperwork (Condition survey forms), the actual condition of the ship and the surveyor’s subjective judgement.
Many surveyors, in Alan’s experience, took a confrontational approach when dealing with issues on board. This is counterproductive in Alan’s opinion; much better to try and be helpful as there is a better chance of getting the information or evidence sought. If a survey is required as the result of a casualty many crew members will be traumatised and it is important that any attending surveyor must take this into consideration when dealing with issues on board.
Geoff is one of the most experienced and respected “small craft” surveyors in the Southampton vicinity. The presentation addressed two major points. The first was the willingness of owners to interpret the regulations incorrectly to suit their own agenda. Giving an example of a pre-purchase survey where a seemingly uncooperative approach by brokers to finding the paperwork for a vessel resulted in weeks of uncertainty and delay in completing the survey.
Another feature when dealing with small craft seemed to be the willingness of some owners or operators to get round the applicable regulations. Geoff pointed out that compliance was often the subject of loose interpretation of the rules rather than putting safety first. The small craft surveyor was often put under pressure to compromise.