Port State Control and Voyage Charter



Port state control is the inspection of foreign ships in national ports to verify that the condition of the ship and its equipment complies with the requirements of international conventions and that the ship is manned and operated in compliance with these rules. it is an internationally agreed regime for the inspection of foreign ships in other national ports by PSC inspectors. International Conventions allow the Port State to exercise a limit of “control” over ships in their waters (i.e. ‘Port State’). This mechanism of verifying ships’ compliance is known as ‘Port State Control’ (PSC). The remit of these PSC officers is to investigate compliance with the requirements of international conventions, such as SOLAS, MARPOL, STCW, and the MLC. Inspections can involve checking that the vessel is manned and operated in compliance with applicable international law, and verifying the competency of the ship’s master and officers, and the ship’s condition and equipment.The purpose of PSC is to “verify that foreign vessels entering another state’s  waters are in compliance with strict international safety and anti-pollution standards.” “The Port State Control objective is to detect and inspect sub-standard ships and to help eliminate the threat they pose to life, property, and the marine environment.”

The Concept of Port State Control was codified in 1982 pursuant to UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, IMO and ILO international conventions give powers to countries to which ships travel to ensure that those ships do not pose an unreasonable threat to the safety of the ship, of its crew, or of its the marine environment whilst in their waters

Vessels are expected to have complied with the following IMO conventions

  • International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)
  • International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)
  • International Convention on Load Lines (ICLL)
  • International Convention on the Standards of Training, Certification (STCW)
  • Prevention of Collisions at Sea (COLREG)
  • International Tonnage Convention (ITC)
  • Merchant Shipping Minimum Standards (ILO 147) (1976)



These inspections were originally intended to be a back up to flag State implementation, but experience has shown that they can be extremely effective, especially if organized on a regional basis. A ship going to a port in one country will normally visit other countries in the region before embarking on its return voyage and it is to everybody’s advantage if inspections can be closely co-ordinated. IMO also has encouraged the establishment of regional port State control organizations and agreements on port State control – Memoranda of Understanding or MOUs – have been signed covering all of the world’s oceans and it includes:

  • Abuja (Africa) MOU
  • Black Sea MOU
  • Caribbean MOU
  • Indian Ocean MOU
  • Mediterranean MOU
  • Paris (Atlantic) MOU
  • Riyadh (Gulf States) MOU
  • Tokyo (Pacific) MOU
  • Vina Del Mar (SA) MOU


Detentions of vessel will result from a deficiency of a serious nature or a combination of deficiencies, by deficiencies it is meant that some condition are found on the vessel that are not in compliance with the requirements of relevant international convention.

  • Some detainable deficiencies under MARPOL includes
    • Absence, serious deterioration or failure of proper operation of the oily water filtering equipment, the oil discharge monitoring and control system or the 15ppm alarm arrangements
    • Remaining capacity of slop and/or sludge tank insufficient for intended voyage
    • Oil Record Book not available
    • Unauthorized discharge bypass fitted



Ships taking visit to port are usually under a certain kind of contract, chartered or responsible for carrying goods as a carrier. Detention means the ship and the cargo would not be able to perform the contract according to what is agreed. Ships under detention cannot continue the voyage and arrive at the destination port as stated in the contract in the specific time assigned in the contract. As a result of detention the contract is discharged, and it may or may not be discharged by frustration

A voyage contract can be discharged by frustration if the ship is beyond the control of the party involved in the contract.

According to Texas Company v. Hogarth Shipping Corp, (1921) 256 U.S. 619, a voyage charter is carrying out in 1915 while the British government take control of the vessel while the vessel is in British waters. This requisition resulted in another vessel being hired to perform the contract. The court held that the original contract is being frustrated as the original vessel is beyond the control of the party involved.

The case demonstrated the contract can be discharged by frustration while the control of the subject vessel is under control of a third party which has no relation with the contracted parties.

The PSC require a ship being detained to remedy the deficiencies which caused the detention. If the deficiencies cannot be remedied in the port of inspection, the port state would allow the ship to proceed to another port under special condition. The ship become free of detention only when all the fee induced by the inspection and detention is paid by the ship-owner.


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