Port State Control

Port State Control (PSC) is an inspection regime for countries to inspect foreign-registered ships in port other than those of the flag state and take action against ships that are not in compliance. Such inspectors are called PSC officers, and are required 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.[2]


Port state control, 2014 ICS, 2015.
Flag Paris
Target List
 North Korea
 St. Vincent/Grenadines

In 1978, a number of European countries agreed in The Hague on a memorandum for the audit of labour conditions on board vessels as to whether they were in accordance with the rules of the ILO. After the Amoco Cadiz sank that year, it was decided to also audit safety and pollution practices. To this end, in 1982 fourteen European countries agreed on the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Paris MoU) to establish port state control. Nowadays 26 European countries and Canada are signatories of Paris MoU. PSC was a reaction to the failure of those flag states  especially flag of convenience states  that had delegated their survey and certification responsibilities to classification societies.

Modeled on the Paris MOU, several other regional MOUs have been signed, including the Tokyo MOU (Pacific Ocean),[3] Acuerdo Latino or Acuerdo de Viña del Mar (South and Central America),[4] the Caribbean MOU,[5] the Mediterranean MOU,[6] the Indian Ocean MOU,[7] the Abuja MOU (West and Central Atlantic Africa),[8] the Black Sea MOU,[9] and the Riyadh MOU (Persian Gulf).[10]

Inspection and enforcement

The Port State Control (PSC) makes inspection of ships in port, taken by Port State Control Officer (PSCO). Annual report of Paris MoU reported that a total of 74,713 deficiencies were recorded during port state control inspections in 2007, which deficiencies resulted in 1,250 detentions that year.[11] Detention of the ship is the last course of action that a PSCO would take upon finding deficiencies aboard the vessel.

Courses of action a PSCO may impose on a ship with deficiencies (in order of ascending gravity) are:[12]

  1. Deficiencies can be rectified within 14 days for minor infractions.
  2. Under specific conditions, deficiencies can be rectified when the ship arrives at the next port.
  3. Deficiencies must be rectified before the ship can depart the port.
  4. Detention of the ship occurs.


Port States can also (besides detention etc.) sanction violations with fines. Port States can also in certain cases, for example if a ship violates the 0.5% sulphur limit of MARPOL Annex VI, assert jurisdiction for such violations which occur on the high seas. The extraterritorial jurisdictional basis for such enforcement and sanctioning is found within the special provisions of part XII of the United Nations Convention on the Law Of the Sea (UNCLOS).[13]


  1. Viña del Mar Agreement: Latin American Agreement on Port State Control of Vessels (PDF). Acuerdo de Viña del Mar. Retrieved 7 May 2018 via Центр Морского Бизнеса.
  2. Port State Control – The achievements of the Paris MoU – Marcella Lazzarini – LJMU 2015
  3. "Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control in the Asia-Pacific". www.tokyo-mou.org.
  4. ":: Acuerdo Viña del Mar 1992 ::". alvm.prefecturanaval.gob.ar.
  5. "Home | CaribbeanMOU". www.caribbeanmou.org.
  6. http://www.medmou.org
  7. "Home- Welcome to Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control". www.iomou.org.
  8. "Abuja MOU". www.abujamou.org.
  9. "Black Sea MOU". www.bsmou.org.
  10. "Riyadh MoU". www.riyadhmou.org.
  11. Paris Mou (2007), "Deficiencies per major category", Annual Report 2007 – Paris MoU on Port State Control, Month Date, pp. 22–23.
  12. Özçayir, Z.O. (2004), "Practical Implication of Port State Control: The Contractual Effect of Port State Control Detentions". In Mitropoulos, E.E. Port State Control, 2nd ed, LLP, London, pp. 509, 520–521
  13. Jesper Jarl Fanø (2019). Enforcing International Maritime Legislation on Air Pollution through UNCLOS. Hart Publishing.
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