The Liberia Maritime Administration vide attached Marine Advisory No. 07/2020-2 has provided guidance to assist Shipowners, Operators, Masters and Recognized Organizations that may be experiencing difficulty in conducting operations, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
These difficulties include restricted access to shipyards and ports for inspectors, auditors, surveyors and crews, which could result in delays in conducting statutory surveys, audits, inspections, crew changes, etc., to maintain validity of certificates and compliance with regulations.
Shipowners and Operators who are or may be experiencing difficulties are advised to contact the Liberian Administration immediately for assistance when the Inspector, Auditor or Surveyor is unable to attend. The Designated Person Ashore or the Shipowner’s/Operator’s representative should contact the Fleet Port State Control Performance Department by email (email@example.com) with details of the difficulty encountered together with applicable supporting documents.
Such documentation should include;
i. A copy of the Port Authorities statement that the vessel is quarantined and/or that no one is authorized to attend the ship; or
ii. A copy of a statement or letter from the Inspector, Auditor and/or Surveyor stating that they are unable to attend the ship in the port where the inspection, audit or survey was to take place due to travel restrictions and our port restrictions; or
iii. A copy of the statement or letter from the shipyard stating that they are unable to accommodate the vessel on the date previously agreed.
Guidance in respect of following are detailed in the attached Marine Advisory.
A. The Safety Management Certificate (SMC):
Extension for the internal initial ISM audit beyond 3 months: The Administration will authorize an extension for up to one month. The company is to provide evidence that the audit was planned to take place within three months, and they are not able to complete the audit due to the port restrictions created in response to the COVID-19. If needed, the Administration may extend, or authorize the RO to extend the Interim SMC a full 6 months (1 year from the date of issuance of the Interim SMC).
Extension of internal annual ISM Audit beyond the 15 months: The internal annual ISM Audit cannot be extended beyond 15 months. The company is responsible to ensure that internal audits are performed as near as possible in accordance with Part A/12 of the ISM Code and may include a methodology other than physical on-board audits, while ensuring that personnel carrying out audits are independent of the areas being audited.
Extension of external initial ISM audit beyond the 6 months provided on the Interim SMC: The ISM Code authorizes an extension of the validity of an Interim SMC in special cases for a further period which should not exceed 6 months from the date of expiry of the initial interim certificate. If adequate justification with supporting documentation is provided, the Administration will extend the Interim SMC accordingly.
Extension of external intermediate audit: The Administration cannot provide an extension of the intermediate audit as the ISM Code provides a one-year window to conduct the Intermediate ISM Audit. (See Note)
Extension of external renewal audit: The ISM Code authorizes an extension of the validity of the SMC for a further period of three months if the vessel is not in a port where the audit can take place. If adequate justification with supporting documentation is provided, the Administration will issue an extended SMC, or authorize the RO to extend SMC.
Extension of external renewal audit beyond the three months provided by 13.14 of the ISM Code: The Administration will permit the vessel to operate with the existing SMC or issue a SMC with limited validity, if adequate justification with supporting documentation is provided.
Extension of external annual or renewal audit of the Company: Administration, if provided with adequate justification with supporting documentation, will permit the RO to issue short term DOC valid for up to three months to the Company based on a remote audit conducted via teleconference and/or videoconferencing with the DPA, the other responsible persons in the company, using the audit plan covering all aspects as required and followed by a technical review. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for additional guidance.
B. The International Ship Security Certificate (ISSC):
Extension of internal initial ISPS audit: 19.4.4 of the ISPS code states that internal audit must be planned to take place within 6 months. Provided the Administration can be shown the internal audit was planned to take place within 6 months, and the internal audit will be conducted in time to provide adequate documentation for the initial external audit, the Administration will authorize an extension up to one month before the initial audit is scheduled to take place. If requested an official letter may be provided.
Extension of internal annual ISPS audit: The internal annual ISPS audit cannot be extended. (See Note)
Extension of Interim ISSC: The Interim ISSC cannot be extended. However, if the Administration receives adequate justification with supporting documentation, the Administration will issue or authorize the RSO to issue a Subsequent, Consecutive, Interim ISSC, when the Shipowner/ Operator provides documentation showing compliance with the 188.8.131.52 to 184.108.40.206 of the ISPS Code. Contact email@example.com for additional guidance.
Extension of external intermediate ISPS audit: The Administration cannot provide an extension of the Intermediate audit as the ISPS Code provides a one-year window to conduct the Intermediate ISPS Audit. (See Note)
Extension of external renewal ISPS audit: 19.3.5 of the ISPS Code authorizes an extension of the validity of the ISSC for a further period of three months if the vessel is not in a port where the audit can take place. If adequate justification with supporting documentation is provided, the Administration will extend, or authorize the RSO to extend the ISSC accordingly.
Extension of the date for the external renewal audit required by the ISPS Code beyond the three months provided by 19.3.5 of the ISPS Code: The Administration will permit the vessel to operate with the existing ISSC or issue an ISSC with limited validity, if adequate justification with supporting documentation is provided.
C. The Maritime Labour Certificate (MLC):
Extension of external initial MLC inspection beyond the 6 months provided on the Interim MLC: The Administration is unable to extend the interim MLC Certificate date as MLC does not provide for an extension. (See Note)
Extension of external intermediate MLC inspection: The Administration is unable to extend the intermediate MLC inspection date as MLC does not provide for an extension. (See Note)
Extension of renewal inspection: The Administration is unable to extend the date of the renewal inspection required by MLC 2006. The requirement states the certificate is to be issued for a period of 5 years from the date of the MLC inspection for issuance of a full-term Certificate. (See Note)
D. Other Statutory Surveys and Certificates:
The postponement of vessels dry dock survey and Statutory Surveys including the IOPP renewal survey: SOLAS Chapter I, Regulation 14(e) and MARPOL Annex I, Regulation 10.5 permits a Certificate to be extended by a maximum period of three (3) months if the ship is not in a port where the surveys are to be carried out. If it can be shown that a vessel was scheduled for the dry-docking survey and installation of a BWMS in a shipyard and due to the outbreak of the COVID-19, the shipyard is experiencing major delays on all projects, the Administration may extend the Dry-Dock Survey and related Statutory surveys including the IOPP renewal survey beyond the maximum three (3) months, if the vessel operator provides the Administration with the necessary documentation. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org and the Recognized Organization for specific requirements.
Acceptance of a ship as a ship delivered before 1 July 2020 for the purpose of new SOLAS Regulation II-1/3-10 related to the IACS Harmonized Common Structural Rules (HCSR) under the goal based standards (GBS) as a result of difficulties faced by shipbuilders, equipment suppliers, shipowners, surveyors and service engineers in respect of the timely delivery of ships: The Administration will on a case by case basis give due consideration to the proposed unified interpretation of SOLAS regulation II-1/3-10 concerning the term ‘Unforeseen delay in delivery of Ship’ in Circular Letter No.4204/Add.7 published by the IMO Secretariat on 3 April 2020 and accept the ship as being delivered before 1 July 2020. In order to consider this, the shipyard in agreement with the shipowner is required to provide:
i. Pages of shipbuilding contract indicating keel laid date and date fixed for delivery before 1 July 2020;
ii. Attestation from Shipyard that they faced difficulties as a result of non-availability of shipyard workers, surveyors, service engineers and equipment supply;
iii. Statement from the ship’s class society that the ship was designed to meet all international regulations that were applicable for the planned delivery prior 1 July 2020; and
iv. Statement from the ship’s class society that the ship is currently under survey for delivery after 1 July 2020 and that, except for SOLAS II-I/3-10, the ship is in compliance with all applicable international regulations.
E. Flag State Inspections:
Postponement of Flag State Inspection: If the flag inspector is unable to attend due to current restrictions imposed on the vessel due to the COVID-19, the Administration will extend the flag State inspection to the next port where the inspection can take place. The vessel operator is to contact the audit department at email@example.com if the vessel is due for flag State inspection, and provide documentation in support of the request to postpone, with the ship’s schedule, so the inspection can be conducted when and where possible.
Issuance of Permanent Certificate of Registry without flag State inspection: The Administration will not authorize the issuance of a Permanent Certificate of Registry, but if the flag State inspection is scheduled at the next available port, the Administration will authorize an extension of the Provisional Certificate of Registry until the date of the scheduled inspection. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Administration will issue a letter to the shipowner agreeing to seafarers to be engaged under their seafarers’ employment agreements beyond a period of 11 months, taking into account arrangements made by the shipowner to repatriate seafarers as soon as possible at the next available port. Contact: email@example.com if this authorization is needed.
Extension of Seafarers Certificates of Endorsement: The Administration primarily issues endorsements of National COCs and CoPs. In case a seafarer’s national certificate will expire, the Country issuing the seafarer’s national COCs, CoPs and Medical Examination Certificates should be contacted and asked to issue an extension of the national certificates. When Administration receives the extension request, it will issue an endorsement in the form of a special CRA, valid for 90 days unless limited to a lesser length of time by the National Administrations extension. If after 90 days there needs to be a longer extension (and the National Administration has issued a longer extension), Administration will issue another special CRA.
If the National Government has not issued their extension length, the Administration may, on a case by case basis, issue a short-term special dispensation (in the form of a special CRA) allowing the seafarer to continue to sail in their present capacity until the vessel reaches the first port where he/she can be replaced and repatriated. Administration cannot extend the validity of an endorsement if the issuing National Administration has not allowed an extension to their certificates. Seafarers whose documents expire should have their National Documents, a copy of the National Administrations extension and Liberia’s special CRA to show Port State Control Regimes. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org if the special CRA is needed, so these requests can be processed urgently.
Allowing a vessel to sail without a Master, should the Master refuse to sail the vessel to a specific port or ports due to the COVID-19, and the ship manager cannot find a relief Master: Where, in the opinion of the Administration, this does not cause danger to persons, property or the environment, the Administration may permit a vessel to sail without a Master for the shortest possible period.
Note: In case an extension of an audit or inspection cannot be granted, the Administration may issue a letter authorizing the vessel to sail to the next available port where the audit, or inspection can take place. This authorization letter will be issued when requested if port restrictions issued in response to the COVID-19 create unexpected extenuating circumstances beyond the vessel operator’s control. To receive the vessel specific authorization letter from the Administration, the Shipowner/Operator will need to provide adequate justification with supporting documentation.
Ship owners/ operators and masters of Liberia flagged ships are advised to be guided by above.
This Technical Circular supersedes and revokes our earlier Technical Circular No. 021/2020, dated 24 March 2020.
This Technical Circular and the material contained in it is provided only for the purpose of supplying current information to the reader and not as an advice to be relied upon by any person. While we have taken utmost care to be as factual as possible, readers/ users are advised to verify the exact text and content of the Regulation from the original source/ issuing Authority.