The Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) said it is now providing a remote inspection option as an additional tool within its Ship Inspection Report (SIRE) program as a temporary measure to help guard against the spread of COVID-19.
Rob Drysdale, Managing Director, OCIMF, explained, “In some circumstances, COVID-19 is limiting the ability of an OCIMF inspector to be physically present on board a vessel to carry out a vessel inspection. To ensure our inspection regimes continue, and without unduly exposing the inspector or the vessel’s crew to the risk of a COVID-19 infection, we are now able to offer remote inspections.
“However, I stress that remote inspections are offered as a temporary additional resource when physical inspections are not feasible. They are not a replacement for our existing program of physical inspections. The choice of opting for a remote inspection lies entirely with the company that is commissioning the inspection and it is up to individual program recipient companies to decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not to accept the remote inspection. Therefore, acceptance of the remote inspection by all submitting and program recipient companies cannot be guaranteed.”
Supporting guidance issued by OCIMF on the use of remote inspections advises that virtual options should be used as an additional option to enhance data collection where physical inspections are not possible due to COVID-19.
While OCIMF said it will not influence the decision to choose a remote inspection over a physical inspection, it does offer a number of factors that should be considered, these include but are not limited to the risk of transmitting COVID-19 due to a physical inspection, the existence of cases/symptoms of COVID-19 onboard the vessel to be inspected, the vessel’s location and previous schedule, travel restrictions associated with the vessel’s location, the possibility of conducting a physical inspection at a later date that will satisfy the submitting company’s requirements, and the possibility that valid inspection reports are available which satisfy the submitting company’s requirements.
Remote inspections will require the vessel operator to complete a detailed questionnaire and upload a series of documents and certificates to a dedicated online repository, OCIMF said. This information will be reviewed remotely by an OCIMF inspector who will be required to complete a further questionnaire drawing on the vessel operator’s information and by requesting further detail from the vessel by telephone/video. Information supplied will include certificates, documents and photograph files.
Drysdale said, “Like all our colleagues in the oil and gas and maritime industries, we must adapt to the changing coronavirus environment and introduce new ways of working that protect our people. At the same time, we must ensure we maintain the exceptionally high standards of safety and operational processes that OCIMF members rightly insist upon. We have successfully trialed the remote inspection regime and conducted a robust management of change process with good results and we are now ready to roll it out, on a temporary basis, across the OCIMF community.”