The significant impact of the COVID19 pandemic on the maritime industry resulted in an increase in the deployment of remote surveys by IACS Members to ensure the maritime industry was able to continue functioning in as smooth and efficient a manner as possible.
Noting many IACS Members introduced remote survey aspects prior to the pandemic, advancements in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) together with the experience and knowledge gained during the pandemic, means that remote surveys will increasingly form part of IACS Members’ operations given the many advantages that can be achieved in terms of practical delivery while ensuring the same quality and safety levels. A “Remote Survey” is defined as a process of verifying that a ship and its equipment are in compliance with the rules of the Classification Society where the verification is undertaken, or partially undertaken, without attendance on-board by a surveyor.
To ensure all IACS Members have uniform guidance and requirements on remote surveys it was considered essential to develop minimum common requirements for the implementation of remote surveys. This IACS Unified Requirement UR Z29 has therefore been developed to deliver the core objective that a remote survey will only be appropriate when the survey is carried out without compromising the quality and results of such survey, providing the same level of assurance as those performed by a surveyor attending onboard the vessel. To achieve this fundamental goal, it was essential that IACS developed principles to ensure equivalency between remote survey and traditional survey by establishing a general definition, application scope, conditions and limitations of remote survey together with identification of requirements in terms of training of personnel.
Among the principles and minimum requirements contained within UR Z29 is that the eligibility of the remote survey is to be decided based on type and scope of the requested survey as detailed in the UR Z29 and, if applicable, with flag State Administration acceptance where statutory survey requirements are also involved. A remote survey is deemed eligible when it provides the same level of assurance as a survey with physical attendance on-board of a surveyor. A balance will be found between remote surveys and physical attendance to ensure the sustainability and robustness of the current classification and statutory systems. Remote surveys are generally to be carried out with internet connection allowing a live streaming visual examination, although, in certain circumstances, an appropriate combination of remote survey methods may be used.
IACS Secretary General, Robert Ashdown, said “with the development of this UR, IACS Members have once again demonstrated their ability to rapidly harness innovative technology and survey techniques for the benefit of the maritime industry without any reduction in the levels of quality or assurance expected of, and provided by, class surveys.” IACS will also actively participate in the upcoming discussions at IMO on incorporating Remote Survey requirements into a regulatory framework that supports new technology while strengthening maritime safety and contributing to the protection of the environment.
IACS Unified Requirement on Remote Classification Surveys UR Z29 will enter into force on 01 January 2023.