Just like everything else in this world, a ship needs to belong to a certain country. This is known as the NATIONALITY of the vessel, or the FLAG of the vessel. The vessel is generally registered at a prominant port of that country. This is known as the Port of Registry.
Sydney and Melbourne are among the ports of registry of Australia. Monrovia is the Port of Registry for a vessel registered in Liberia..... and so on.
By registering the vessel in a certain country, the Owner of the vessel undertakes to follow the shipping law or the Merchantile Marine Act of the country. Generally the safety aspect of the Marine Law of any particular country is in keeping with the SOLAS Convention. However, there might be a few changes here and there, but never under the standards set in the SOLAS. The decission of a shipowner to register his vessel in a certain country is generally commercially driven. Taxes, tarriffs and crewing play a major part in the registration process of a vessel.
The Administrating Countries as they are called, have their vessels inspected from time to time at regular intervals and verify that the vessels conform with the Maritime Laws of that country and with the safety standards of that country.
This type of an inspection is called FLAG STATE CONTROL. At regular intervals, when a vessel is in a reasonably busy port, the Administrating Country appoints a surveyor to carry out the Flag State Control on that vessel.
C.R. COX Cargo and Marine Consultants and Surveyors are the Official surveyors for some of the prominant Flag States. The include:
- Bureau of Liberian Maritime Affairs.
- Panama Bureau of Shipping.
- Cyprus Shipping Register.
- The Bahamas Maritime Authority.
Similarly, when a vessel visits a port, the maritime authority of that country has a right to inspect the vessel and ensure that it is maintained properly and is seaworthy in all respects. An unseaworthy vessel on the coast of any country would pose enormous danger to the coastal environment of that country. In Australia these inspections are carried out by A.M.S.A. This stands for Australian Maritime Safety Authority. This type of an inspection is called Port State Control inspection.