From small fishing boats to cruise ships, surveys and inspections keep you safe on the water says the MCA
From small fishing boats to cruise ships carrying thousands of passengers, the Survey and Inspection branch of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency is essential in ensuring the safety of those working and travelling at sea.
During Maritime Safety Week, Survey and Inspection (S&I) Technical Manager Chris D’Alcorn says the role of S&I is “extremely important in ensuring the health, safety and welfare of everyone at sea”.
It is up to the S&I team to check that the safety and working conditions of vessels in the UK are to the required standard. Their work covers all commercially operating vessels including UK vessels operating worldwide and foreign vessels in UK waters.
With nine Marine Offices across the UK, all types of commercial vessels are inspected by the MCA. In the South this even includes the Jungle Cruise at Longleat and HoverTravel, the high-speed passenger hovercraft operating in the Solent.Chris has worked in S&I for more than thirteen years and currently manages a team of 15 surveyors. Based in the Southampton Marine Office, Chris says that every year this office alone deals with more than 150 port state control inspections, 350 surveys and completes around 600 seafarer exams.
He said: “Surveyors ensure that vessels are complying with the minimum safety standards, which applies to all persons onboard including crew and passengers.
“Working within Survey and Inspection is very interesting. Every day is different and we deal with a large variety of vessels and seafarers.
“What’s great is we believe in a level playing field – everyone is treated the same. We meet people from all walks of life but being regulators it’s up to us to ensure all vessels, whether at a national or international level, are maintained to the minimum standard. There is no favourable treatment.”
As well as inspecting the vessels surveyors ensure satisfactory crew conditions are met, including quality of water, food, and rights to annual leave and pay.
“It’s all about promoting safe working practices and taking action when that isn’t the case,” Chris added.
“As surveyors we do our best to make sure every vessel is operating to the same standard, whether that be high speed craft, hovercraft, fishing boats, cruise vessels, or cargo ships. It’s a complex but rewarding job and we know we’re helping.”