Any merchant vessel needs to be registered by a Flag State (the Flag State is the term used to define Country of registration). Flag State ensures that a ship flying under its flag is safely constructed and its equipment is certified. Moreover, ship should be properly manned and maintained as per relevant regulations based on Conventions developed by International Maritime Organization (IMO). For this reason, the Flag State carries out surveys and inspections on the vessels under its Registry for issue of various Certificates. Without these Certificates, which are mandatory for the vessels, ship cannot sail. Many developed Maritime nations have adequate Maritime Administrative infrastructure to undertake this task while many others who lack this capability for various reasons, delegate authority to recognized Classification Societies to carry out most of such surveys & issue Certificates on their behalf.
At the same time, it should be noted that nowadays, ships trade internationally and have voyages to various ports all over the world. In that sight, some ships may not be called at any of their flag state ports for a considerable period of time and it is possible that during that time vessel’s Certificates are almost expired or major maintenance has suffered due to various reasons. Therefore, it is quietly reasonable that ships must be inspected at various ports to ensure compliance with rule requirements as regards safety, maintenance and manning as per regulations under control. This control is termed as Port State Control.
Port State Control – an internationally approved service for the inspection of foreign ships in ports other than those of that country. PSC inspectors are required to investigate compliance of the ship with the requirements of applicable conventions.
The main goal of PSC is to withdraw vessel that underperforms standards set by IMO, in order to ensure safer and cleaner oceans. By identifying sub-standard vessel before their departure, PSC makes sure that corrective actions are taken and only after that ship is allowed to proceed to sail.