The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) provides for international standards to ensure the safety of shipping. As of 1st July 2004 all ships needing to comply with SOLAS, (passenger ships and cargo ships of 500 GT and above engaged on international voyages) must be issued and retain on-board ship a Continuous Synopsis Record (CSR).
The addition of regulation XI-1/5 to the SOLAS regulations aimed to improve maritime safety, security, the protection of the environment, and to help prevent fraud in the maritime industry. An earlier resolution, SOLAS regulation XI-1/3-1 which came into force on 1 January 1996 put the onus on the owners of propelled ships over 100 GT and engaged on international voyages to have assigned an IMO number for the purposes of identification of the ship and the owners. The assigning of an IMO number formerly known as an LR No. is quite painless. For new buildings an IMO number is assigned to a hull during its construction. Vessels which fall outside the requirements of SOLAS may have a number allocated by Lloyd's Register or IHS Fairplay.
However, the requirements of regulation XI-1/5 to SOLAS making it mandatory for ships to have an up to date CSR on-board containing the following information has proved to be an arduous task for a ship registry:
- Flag State, Date of Registration, and Port of Registry
- Ships Identification Number (IMO number)
- Name and Address of Registered Owner(s)
- Name and Address of Registered bareboat Charterer(s) (if applicable)
- Name and Registered address of the Company and the address (es) from where it carries out the safety-management activities. (Company named on ISM Certificate)
- Name of all classification society(ies) with which the ship is classed
- Name of the Administration or Recognized Organization which has issued the ISM Document of Compliance (or Interim) and where the Document of Compliance or Interim is issued on the back of an Audit by another Organization or Administration, the name of the Organization/Administration which has carried out the Audit
- Name of the Administration or Recognized Organization that has issued the Safety Management Certificate (or Interim) and where the Certificate or Interim Certificate is issued on the back of an Audit by another Organization or Administration the name of the Organization/ Administration which has carried out the Audit
- Name of Administration that has issued the International ship Security Certificate
- Date on which the ship ceased to be registered with that Flag state
The regulation states that any changes relating to the details contained in the CSR document must be reported without delay, and a new CSR issued. Whereas the IMO number assigned to a ship never changes and remains with the ship for its entire life, other details contained in the CSR do frequently change. Ships transfer class, change name, change flag, change owner, and are put on bareboat charter regularly. Therefore, each time a ship is put on bareboat charter, changes owners, flag, or there is any other change which needs to be reflected on the CSR, the master or owners must complete an amendment form, (Form 2) and attach it to the current CSR document, and send a copy of the amendment form to the flag administration for the issue of a new CSR. The flag administration must then issue a new CSR for placing onboard ship as soon as possible, and within three months of the changes. Each CSR issued is given a sequential number as it is a requirement to keep a record of historical details as well as an up-to-date CSR onboard ship for inspection purposes.
In the case where a ship changes flag, the previous flag state is required to issue a new CSR to the ship showing the date on which the ship ceased to be registered with that flag, and send a copy of the ship’s CSR file to the new flag state. In turn, the new flag state must then issue a new CSR with the next sequential CSR number.
This task of keeping the CSR of a ship up-to-date and accurate is therefore extremely demanding, and if attempted to be done manually can prove nearly impossible, especially if a ship is frequently put on bareboat charter for instance. Additionally, the data contained on the CSR spans both registry and survey which is traditionally different parts of a ship registry’s operations, and therefore communication and coordination become vital also.
Automating this process is really the only sensible solution to meet such a laborious and monotonous task. Vessel HQ has been designed to simplify this process by making the control and issue of CSRs uniform and far easier. All historic data is retained within the system which makes auditing, reporting and the passing on of CSR information an effortless process.