Raising the bar in Vessel Assurance through IMCA eCMID accreditation

Stephen Birt, Chairman of the IMCA Marine eCMID Committee, has written this short article.

Those of you in the Offshore maritime industry are no doubt very familiar with the International Marine Contractor’s Association (IMCA) Common Marine Inspection Document (eCMID), or perhaps the smaller vessel equivalent Marine Inspection for Small Workboats (eMISW). In this article I use eCMID to include eMISW.

However, not everyone is aware of the recent upgrades to the system and database that have seen the most recent version (revision 10) released in July 2016, incorporating extra and refined supplements for various vessel types (including DP vessel and Heavy Lift for example), and also a review of the approximately 250 general vessel questions.

Designed to be utilized by Vessel Operators as a 3rd party verification and check out of the effectiveness of the Safety Management System (SMS) onboard, as part of a wider in house Vessel Assurance (VA) picture; also by Charterers as part of their vessel vetting process, the eCMID is a fully electronic based survey system that then sits on the eCMID database for users and IMCA members to reference and utilize as part of the ongoing VA process for the vessel in question. The audit is intended to be undertaken on an annual basis.

For the concerns of security, all database information is securely stored on a protected server. All vessel report data is only assembled into a readable PDF report when requested by the user, otherwise the data is randomly scattered throughout the database. All user details are encrypted.

In the not so recent past the system was paper based and free to print out for any surveyor to use as part of their toolkit – useful in some circumstances, as it was open to anyone to use, however not managed per se in terms of quality.

Over the years, the demand for assurance not only of the vessel, but also of the Surveyor themselves have driven the changes to the system, that now see Accredited Vessel Inspectors (AVI), vetted and accredited by the International Institute of Marine Surveyors (IIMS) to ensure that the client of the audit, whoever they may be, can be assured that the inspector of the vessel is suitably competent (i.e. has the under pinning knowledge, experience and familiarization required) for the type of vessel they are inspecting.

AVI’s, as they are known, are now part of a rigorous initial assessment, and continuous professional development programme (CPD) to keep their accreditation valid. In addition, the development of the eCMID database continues apace with regular updates and changes to keep up with client and operator requirements and changes to vessel types and roles.

The next major development of the system will be that from January 1st, 2018, an eCMID report may only be downloaded, completed and uploaded by a registered AVI. Only those correctly registered reports will be recognized by IMCA. This closes the loop on over 3 years of development and consultation on the system with the IMCA Marine Division and wider offshore marine community with regard the desired direction of travel for the system. It is important that the end receiver of the report can have assurance as to it’s validity.

Therefore, it is essential that existing surveyors who have not yet achieved AVI status, ensure that they do so soon if they are to meet the deadline of the 1st January 2018, to be able to continue to use the eCMID database system for their clients.

Please do share this with your maritime network to spread the word and ensure everyone is informed.