These Regulations took effect in the UK on 24 November 2011 and will implement the provisions of the EC Directive on port control in EU Member States (“the Directive”). The Directive created a regime for the enforcement of international shipping standards on safety, pollution prevention and living and working conditions in respect of vessels which enter or use Member State ports.
The UK Regulations apply to the inspection of non-UK ships entering UK ports or anchorages. If any inspected vessel fails to meet the required international standards, action must be taken to bring the vessel to the required standard. If the vessel poses a risk to the health, safety or the environment, the inspector must detain the vessel until the necessary work is undertaken to improve its condition.
A refusal of access notice will be issued to any vessel which is denied access to UK ports or anchorages on the basis that it fails to meet the required standards. Once such a notice is issued, that vessel must not enter any UK port or anchorage.
Similarly, a vessel must not enter the UK if:-
- the detention rate of its country of registration is black or grey listed;
- the vessel has been detained or issued with a prevention of operation order under Directive 1999/35/EC (which established a system of mandatory surveys for ferries and passenger ships) more than twice in the last 36 months if the vessel’s flag state is black listed, or 24 months if the vessel’s flag state is grey listed;
- the order under (ii) was issued in any EU Member Port state or in the port of any signatory to the Paris Memorandum of Undertaking on Port State Control.
If a vessel meets the above criteria and is the subject of a third or subsequent detention when within a port of anchorage in the UK, the Secretary of State must issue a refusal of access notice. Once a third refusal notice is issued in respect of a vessel in any EU port or anchorage that vessel must not enter the UK.
A refusal of access notice takes effect when the ship to which it relates leaves the port or anchorage where the notice was issued. The notice will cease to have effect when certain requirements in the Directive have been satisfied and three months have passed from the date of issue if the notice is the first one in respect of that vessel, or twelve months have passed if the notice is the second issued in respect of that vessel.
A third refusal of access notice will only cease to have effect if:-
- 24 months have passed from the date of issue
- the vessel is not entitled to fly the flag of a State which is black or grey listed;
- a classification certificate is issued by an organisation recognised by EU law;
- the ship is managed by a company with a high performed as determined in accordance with the Directive; and
- the requirements of the Directive have been met.
If after 24 months those requirements have not been met, the refusal of access notice becomes permanent and the vessel will not be entitled to enter the UK.
However, the Secretary of State does have power to allow access to a vessel which would otherwise be refused access to the UK, if he or she is satisfied that adequate measures to ensure safe entry have been implemented by the owner or master of the vessel and, at least one of the following apply to the vessel:-
- force majeure
- overriding safety considerations
- the need to reduce or minimise the risk of pollution or
- the need to have deficiencies rectified.
If deficiencies are identified on inspection and they cannot be rectified in the port of inspection, the inspector of the vessel may allow the vessel to proceed without undue delay to the appropriate repair yard nearest to the port of detention. The owner of the ship will be liable for any costs resulting for refusal of access or detention of a vessel.