The Cayman Islands, spearheaded by the Maritime Authority, underwent a successful audit last summer by the Voluntary International Maritime Organization Member State Audit Scheme.
The audit, which is conducted by specialist IMO appointed auditors, assesses the degree and effectiveness of a member states’ implementation of the international maritime treaties and conventions. These treaties and conventions govern the way ships and operators comply with international regulatory requirements.
The scope of the audit, done in the Cayman Islands in June 2011, covers the full range of member state responsibilities including coastal state, port state and flag state matters and it is a comprehensive assessment covering a wide range of governmental agencies.
It is widely regarded that the effectiveness of a member states’ implementation of the international requirements has a direct influence on the standard of its ships, as measured under the system of Port State Control. The Port State Control regime was implemented by the IMO to combat sub-standard shipping and demands ships of an IMO member state are inspected in a foreign port to ensure compliance with the international requirements thus reducing the ‘flags of convenience’ effect.
As a measure of the importance placed on the audit by the international maritime community, the completion of the process is used as a benchmark by the major Port State Memoranda of Understandings in Paris and United States Coast Guard to indicate that the ships flying the flag are classified as low risk ships. This means such ships are assigned a low priority for inspection in the Port State Control targeting system, which defines which ships will be inspected when visiting a foreign port.
Prior to the completion of the audit, the Cayman Islands were included in the top tier (white list) of the major Port State Control MOU ranking systems and the white list status is augmented by the designation of low risk, a major achievement and a significant benefit to ships flying the Cayman Islands flag.