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The detention of a superyacht by Port State Control can have disastrous consequences for all associated with the vessel, both in terms of financial loss and damage to reputation. Whilst the immediate impact will be disruption to charter, even after the yacht is released returning to business as usual may not be plain sailing.
In the distant past superyachts have enjoyed an ‘under the radar’ status when it comes to inspections, but this all changed in 2011, with painful results for some. A new inspection regime, known as THETIS, states that any vessel without a full inspection history will be given Priority 1 status. The consequence is that it becomes a target for rigorous inspection at any port falling under the Paris MOU (the Memorandum of Understanding which exists between 27 European costal states and includes the North Atlantic basin).
This regime has also brought about a recording system, whereby companies that have history of repeated breaches will be labelled as high risk, causing further targeted inspections. The same applies to an individual vessel with a poor inspection history, resulting in her becoming a ‘thorn in the side’ for both captain and crew as they attempt to enter port.
Breaches that lead to detention can be either major safety non-compliance or accumulative smaller failures that display a lackadaisical approach to maintenance and documentation. More often than not, breaches implicate a number of individuals in a chain of bad procedure and omission. With health & safety responsibility falling to everyone, it cannot be assumed that only senior staff and the captain will shoulder the blame.
Crew members are between them liable for all areas of the vessel and its equipment, from the deck to the engine room, the navigation systems on the bridge and the accommodation quarters. The single most common reason for a yacht to be detained is failure to maintain the vessel and equipment, compromising the safety of those aboard and increasing risk to life if an incident should occur. The ensuing investigation following a breach of any kind can lead to large fines being levied and, more importantly perhaps for the crew, individuals being held criminally responsible for their part in non-conformity.
The answer to avoiding the chain of events that led to detention is training. Maritime Training Academy run industry-accredited courses in your chosen field, covering not only the practical skills needed, but all relevant areas of legislation and conformity to maritime law. Picture yourself stranded at port, waiting to be repatriated, then picture the alternative of investing in training and basking in the glory of averting disaster.