Port State Control (PSC) is the inspection of foreign ships in national ports to verify that the condition of the ship and its equipment comply with the requirements of international regulations and that the ship is manned and operated in compliance with these rules.
Many of IMO's most important technical conventions contain provisions for ships to be inspected when they visit foreign ports to ensure that they meet IMO requirements.
These inspections were originally intended to be a back up to flag State implementation, but experience has shown that they can be extremely effective, especially if organized on a regional basis. A ship going to a port in one country will normally visit other countries in the region before embarking on its return voyage and it is to everybody's advantage if inspections can be closely co-ordinated.
This ensures that as many ships as possible are inspected but at the same time prevents ships being delayed by unnecessary inspections. The primary responsibility for ships' standards rests with the flag State - but port State control provides a "safety net" to catch substandard ships.
IMO has encouraged the establishment of regional port State control organizations and agreements on port State control - Memoranda of Understanding or MoUs - have been signed covering all of the world's oceans: Europe and the north Atlantic (Paris MoU); Asia and the Pacific (Tokyo MoU); Latin America (Acuerdo de Viña del Mar); Caribbean (Caribbean MoU); West and Central Africa (Abuja MoU); the Black Sea region (Black Sea MoU); the Mediterranean (Mediterranean MoU); the Indian Ocean (Indian Ocean MoU); and the Riyadh MoU.
IMO hosted the Fifth IMO Workshop for PSC MoU/Agreement Secretaries and Database Managers from 14 to 16 June 2011. The Workshops are funded by the IMO Technical Co-operation Fund and aim to provide support to regional port State control regimes by establishing a platform for co-operation and also providing a forum for the people involved to meet and exchange ideas and experiences; they also aim to encourage harmonization and co-ordination of PSC activities and the development of practical recommendations which can be forwarded to IMO for further examination by the Organization's relevant Committees and Sub-Committees. The Sixth Workshop is scheduled to take place in 2013.
The reports of the Fourth and Fifth Workshops are available on IMODOCS under "meeting documents/others/PSCWS".