Mediterranean inspection warning this season: yachts are included

Inspections in the Med not to be ruled out this summer - yachts in Favignana in Sicily
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There is quite a stir in the air these days about the Paris Memorandum of Understanding and vessels being detained in the Mediterranean. There are Flag State circulars, various management company memos, e-mails and media articles all warning of charter disruptions, cancellations and all kinds of disasters to come.

Let’s have a look at the who, what, where and why of the Paris MoU and how this may impact yachts in the Mediterranean this summer.


The Paris MoU is an agreement among 27 countries to share the responsibilities of inspecting ships entering their region for compliance with International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations. It went into effect Jan. 1.

The aim of the MoU is to share the inspection workload and to create an electronic database of all ships entering the region, which is shared and monitored by all member states. The program and database is known as THETIS, The Hybrid European Targeting and Inspection System.

The Paris MoU applies to everyone, commercial or private, regardless of tonnage. Everyone has always been subject to inspection by the mere fact of having entered the waters of another country.

With the Paris MoU, however, all vessels entering the region are targeted to be inspected in order create a history in the database. Once a vessel is in the system, depending on the outcome of the initial inspection and the flag it flies, the vessel may not be subject to inspection again for up to 36 months.

Per the regulation, no vessel is subject to re-inspection sooner than six months.

Yachts have traditionally enjoyed a low profile with PSC authorities around the world and have generally been considered a low priority for inspection. However, under THETIS, any vessel that does not have an inspection history in the region is automatically assigned as 'Priority 1: (Unknown Ship)' requiring a 'More Detailed Inspection' at the earliest opportunity.

Yachts travelling to the Med this summer who have never been inspected are very likely going to be inspected by the PSC of one of the signing countries when it enters port.
The authorities are required to do so within 15 days of a vessel’s entry; though they are permitted to not inspect 5 percent of visiting vessels.

A skipper who has all paperwork in order should have nothing to worry about, but yachts are NOT exempt
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If a vessel is noncompliant with any aspect of the codes applicable to them during the inspection, two things can happen. First, the vessel may receive deficiencies much as it would on a standard Flag State survey, or the vessel may be detained.

Both of these outcomes are unfavorable as there now becomes a permanent public record of the vessel’s deficiencies, which can affect the extent and frequency of future inspections.

A captain who stays on top his vessel’s documents, inspections, logbooks and maintenance has little to worry about.

Those who are unfamiliar with their safety management system or are behind on drills, logbook entries, maintenance or paperwork could have an unfavorable outcome come inspection day.

For more information, the Paris MoU has created a Web site with details about the program at www.parismou.org.

Sail-World Cruising thanks www.thetriton.com!The_Triton, where this article was first printed.

The author, Stuart Biesel, is managing director of MTSI, Megayacht Technical Services International, a regulatory consultancy and ISM/ISPS management company based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA.