Berufsgenossenschaft Verkehrswirtschaft Post-Logistik Telekommunikation (BG Verkehr)
Dienststelle Schiffssicherheit
Brandstwiete 1
20457 Hamburg


Alexander Dierichs
Phone: +49 40 361 37-244
Fax: +49 40 361 37-204

Detlef Rathke
Phone: +49 40 361 37-232
Fax: +49 40 361 37-204



Webcode for this Content: 16377957

Offshore service vessels

What are offshore service vessels?

The turnaround in energy policy would not be possible without offshore ships. In this segment many small offshore service vessels for offshore wind farms are deployed in German waters. These offshore service vessels transport mostly service and supervisory personnel to the offshore wind farms far away from the coast.

For offshore service vessels under German flag

  • enganged on domestic voyages (regardless of the length of the ship) or
  • enganged on international voyages with a length of less than 24m

the National Load Line Directive applies.

Basically there are two different kinds of vessels categories among the offshore service vessels:

  • High speed craft (HSC) built as a HSC and operating with high speed and
  • Traditionally built service vessels.

High speed offshore service vessels

High speed offshore service vessels under German flag have to observe the national "Safety directive for cargo ships". These ships are cargo ships to which special regulations apply. The operator of such vessel may carry up to 60 people on these ships including the crew. Of these 60 people up to 12 may be passengers. The others have to be either crew members or offshore service personnel. The term offshore service personnel means someone engaged in the erection, the operation and maintenance of offshore wind farms and other offshore installations.

The Annex of the national "Safety directive for cargo ships" includes a few facilitations in comparison to the HSC Code (International Code of Safety for High-Speed Craft). These special regulations are possible because offshore service vessels are sailing around the area of wind farms to which particular protection and safety concepts apply. Since there are wind farm installation vessels and accommodation ships or other ships at the wind farms enough rescue capacities are available. In addition, the offshore service personnel are specially trained for emergencies.

(back to top)

Traditionally built offshore service vessels

Apart from the high speed craft there are also traditionally built offshore service vessels. To these ships, which carry over 12 people, the “Special Purpose Ship-Code” (SPS Code) of the IMO applies.

Depending on the date of built of the ship a different version of the Special Purpose Ship-Code applies:

(back to top)

Certificates of Equivalence for ships under foreign flags

Sea-going ships under foreign flag (including EU flag), which are employed commercially inside German coastal waters and do not have international SOALS certificates, need a Certificate of Equivalence. With this certificate the legislator wants to ensure an equal level of safety on board ships under foreign flag like on comparable sea-going ships under German flag. But the Certificate of Equivalence only regulates ship safety, not however maritime labour law or other areas of the law.

The legal bases for the Certificate of equivalence are:

The Ship Safety Division issues upon application Certificates of Equivalence. In practice, most issued Certificates of Equivalence are for offshore service vessels.

A distinction has to be made between Certificates of Equivalence and cabotage certificates. Maritime cabotage is the right to transport passengers or goods within German coastal waters with foreign-flagged ships. There are no cabotage restrictions for ships flying an EU flag. Ships flying a non-EU flag however do need a cabotage certificate from the responsible regional Water and Shipping Directorate, according to section 2 paragraph 2 of the Verordnung über die Küstenschifffahrt (ordinance on coastal shipping).

Information about Certificates of Equivalence for non-STCW Certificates of Competency of seafarers (e.g. on fishing vessels) can be found under our heading Training and Competence (so far only in German).

(back to top)