Regular readers of my ‘Passionate About…’ columns on will know I feel strongly about everything that increases efficiency in the offshore contracting industry. That’s why I welcome the newly reviewed and revised IMCA common marine inspection document (CMID), as it most certainly fits the bill.

The CMID has done sterling work in meeting vital objectives since its initial development nine years ago. Firstly, it has provided an industry format for vessel inspection reports and reduced the number of inspections that need to be carried out on individual marine craft. Secondly, it has worked towards the adoption of a common inspection standard, or level of expectation of vessels for the offshore marine industry – achieved by using the CMID format and sharing inspection

Before the introduction of CMID, clients and prospective clients requested individual inspections of vessels they wished to contract. Vessels could be inspected over, and over, and over again, because there was no standard approach. These audits were company specific and both time-consuming and expensive. Many vessel operators struggled to cope with the demands placed on them. Thankfully, this is now a thing of the past.

Over the years, the CMID has seen ever-greater adoption around the world with IMCA members actively promoting its use to clients, sub-contractors and vessel operators. Indeed, a significant part of the international offshore industry has accepted the CMID as the standard for vessel inspections. Sharing inspection reports has proved to be an undoubted boon to the industry.

“The CMID has done sterling work in meeting vital objectives since its initial development nine years ago.”

Now, if an inspection is required, the company can ascertain the date when the last inspection was conducted by accessing the CMID document. If the report is more than a year old, the company knows instantly that a new inspection should be carried out. Of course, using the report does not waive any rights to inspect the vessel, but the inspection report can be taken into consideration when assessing the degree of any further inspection that might be required.

Cross-industry collaboration

Cross-industry collaboration is key to the success and acceptance of the CMID. There is no doubt that over the past nine years, and the consequent standardisation of vessel inspection, industry integration has had a beneficial effect on efficiency, vessel quality and operational safety.

However, we can never afford to rest on our laurels and so the CMID has been updated by a cross-industry workgroup, with input provided by contractors (vessel owners / operators) charterers (oil companies, individually and through their association, OGP), consultants (inspectors) and other interested parties at dedicated workshops in Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur. This update undoubtedly improves the CMID in a number of important ways.

The new document (IMCA M 149 issue 7) is now available from IMCA and it has been thoroughly reviewed and rewritten with a clearer structure. The previous subjectivity has been removed (no longer does it reflect the ‘view’ of the inspector but is instead a ‘statement of fact’) and updates reflecting technological, operational and regulatory developments have been included. It now provides additional guidance on inspector competence, something that was specifically requested.

“Over the years, the CMID has seen ever-greater adoption around the world.”

A look at the document’s contents provides a feel for the comprehensive nature of the report – and the reason behind such concerted acceptance. Included in the early pages of the CMID are useful definitions for terminology, a glossary of all-important abbreviations and guidance on the inspection process. There is a sheet for the inspection summary, advice on debriefing the vessel captain and directions for the distribution of the report.

The remainder of the 48-page document is devoted to questions for completion on every aspect of the vessel. It covers vessel particulars, previous inspections, certification, an index of certificates ISM and HSE. There are also sections covering security, crew management and qualifications, life saving and fire fighting appliances and pollution prevention. With regards to the ships general appearance the bridge, navigation and communications equipment is examined alongside space for machinery as well as mooring and lifting equipment, construction, stability and finally observations about helidecks.

“A significant part of the international offshore industry has accepted the CMID as the standard for vessel inspections.”

A competent and independent third party should, of course, complete the inspection, enabling subsequent or prospective clients to consider the independent report rather than simply requiring full reinspections. The ‘living document’ aspect of the CMID is important; some parts can be completed by the crew prior to an inspector’s arrival, and then updated by the vessel’s crew whenever and wherever possible, so that the minimum amount of work is required at each inspection, and inspectors can spend their time on board as effectively as possible.

The future is electric

We’re not resting on our laurels with a ‘job done’ sign on the door. Far from it, we are developing a new electronic format – the e-CMID – and a secure online database. These are intended to further enhance the consistent completion and availability of CMID reports.

The new e-CMID will have very definite advantages. No longer will inspectors be able to give merely simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers, they will have to provide further information in the ‘comments’ box, adding valuable depth to their reports. This is not possible in simple Word documents where nothing prevents the inspector ticking ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and then moving on to the next question without providing detailed observations.

Updated guidance on the use of the new CMID is to be prepared, which will cover how inspectors should assess elements and complete their report; and then how they can work with the e-CMID and database.

Working together like this, there is just one overall aim, and that is to improve the quality of vessel inspections in this standard form so the reports are trusted throughout the industry all around the world. By improving the quality, the acceptance, standardisation, safety and efficiency will improve as well. These living reports are designed to ensure that costly (both in terms of time and money) over-inspection is a thing of the past.

We see the CMID as a huge part of a much wider package of documents produced by IMCA aimed at ensuring we reach those all-important goals of greater efficiency and higher levels of operational safety of specialist vessels used in marine operations.