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Simpler diving surveys at the German Flag

The Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr has changed their approval practice regarding in-water surveys of German-flagged ships. As of now, the inspection of the ship's bottom can also be done inside the water if a ship does not have an additional class notation for in-water surveys (e.g. "BIS", "IW").

Under the SOLAS Convention (Regulation I/10(a) in part B), two bottom surveys have to be conducted for sea-going vessels within a 5-year period. For cargo ships younger than 15 years, the first survey is not required to be done in drydock but can also be conducted in the water by a diver.

So far, the German Flag demanded an additional class notation (e.g. "BIS", "IW") or appropriate structural conditions for an in-water survey – among other things, fixed markings at the hull below the waterline and safe access to the sea chests, rudder bearings and stuffing boxes for the diver.

Other flag states or classification societies use the current IACS UR Z 3 Rev.7 of January 2018 (the abbreviation "UR" means "Unified Requirements"). The Ship Safety Division also has decided to follow these rules of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) for sea-going vessels under German flag from now on.

Kirk Williams

In-water surveys are, inter alia, approved under the following circumstances:

  • survey in sheltered water, preferably with weak tidal streams and currents;
  • the in-water visibility and the cleanliness of the hull below the waterline are to be good enough to permit a meaningful examination which allows the surveyor and the in-water survey firm to determine the condition of the plating, appendages and the welding;
  • the diving survey shall be carried out by a company approved by the competent classification society under the supervision and to the satisfaction of the class surveyor;
  • if damages are detected during the in-water survey, the class surveyor may order a drydock bottom survey.

Further details are outlined in: