Enhancing marine assurance capabilities with SIRE 2.0

01 Jan 2023 MARS

Since its inception, OCIMF’s Ship Inspection Report Programme (SIRE) has helped to support continuous improvement in the safety of the marine industry.

Gathering detailed, dependable and focussed information for better risk assessment

Aaron Cooper, Programmes Director OCIMF

First launched in 1993 to provide a standardised ship inspection format, it has now gained industry-wide acceptance as a benchmark for vessel inspections. Today, SIRE inspections take place all over the world and are widely recognised as an invaluable tool for raising ship safety standards.

At the heart of the SIRE system is a large database of vessel inspection reports. These reports provide the information necessary to make informed risk assessment and vetting decisions ahead of engaging in a charter or issuing a terminal approval. Inspection reports are uploaded to the SIRE database where, for a nominal fee, they can be accessed by registered programme participants who charter tankers or operate terminals. SIRE reports are provided for free to government agencies engaged in Port State Control activities.

The increasing use of SIRE information over the past two decades has been closely linked to the increasing efforts made by the oil, gas and chemical industries to ensure that the vessels they use are well managed and maintained. Recognising that digitalising the inspection regime could enhance reporting and thus safety outcomes still further, OCIMF embarked on a project to overhaul and digitalise the SIRE inspection regime. The SIRE 2.0 project is now in the final stages of development to be ready for a phased roll-out to programme users.

As a digitalised process, SIRE 2.0 will more accurately report on the quality of a vessel and its crew. It will indicate likely future performance using enhanced tools, strengthened governance processes and more in-depth reporting outcomes. The updated programme will follow a risk-based approach underpinned by a focus on human factors.

How is the inspection changing?

For programme recipients – companies that use the reports to vet vessels prior to charter or engagement at terminals – the SIRE 2.0 inspection regime will significantly expand the depth and quality of marine assurance data gathered during vessel inspections and provided via the reports. This will allow for more comprehensive assessments of both the quality of a vessel and its crew.

SIRE 2.0 inspections will be conducted in a digital format with inspectors completing a Compiled Vessel Inspection Questionnaire (CVIQ) in real-time using a tablet device. Unlike the existing SIRE VIQ7, the SIRE 2.0 CVIQ is a custom inspection template compiled using a carefully programmed algorithm to create a bespoke questionnaire for each inspection.

How is the data compiled?

To create the CVIQ, the SIRE 2.0 compiler software assesses the vessel type and other information provided by the vessel operator through the Harmonised Vessel Particulars Questionnaire (HVPQ) and the Pre-inspection Questionnaire (PIQ) and then selects questions from the question library based on risk ranking. SIRE 2.0 questions require responses from the inspector based on hardware, process and human factors as applicable, which can be graded and supported with documentary evidence, including the option to append photographs (where permitted).

Once a report has been submitted, it will be verified by the company that initiated the inspection. Reports will be checked for accuracy, completeness and alignment with OCIMF requirements. It will then be submitted to the report database and sent to the vessel operator for comment before being published.

The result of this new inspection process will be a significant improvement in data quality, with a specific focus on equipment, processes and people. SIRE 2.0 reports will be compiled from more detailed, dependable, and focused information and presented in a format that can be read intuitively and easily. Due to their design, reports will be more easily comparable, and the data more readily analysed.

Observations will be set in a meaningful context as inspectors will be able to provide more detailed written insights and linked data, and where applicable, supporting photographic evidence. Consequently, programme users will be able to better assess issues and risks onboard. Integration of records including photography, HPVQ, PSC reports, crew matrix and incident data into the inspection report will provide programme recipients with a much more informed picture of a vessel’s condition and performance. The new SIRE 2.0 reports will also enable vessel owners and operators to better understand the root causes of observations and to improve safety across the board.

Recognising excellence

Importantly, because SIRE 2.0 inspections are ‘made-to-measure’ for each vessel and for each inspection (ie no two CVIQs will be the same but will be drawn from a library of potential questions), vessel operators and crew must be prepared to answer any question that is applicable to the vessel based on its type, outfitting and information provided by the vessel operator. In this respect there is no significant change from the current SIRE programme.

It is important to point out that this does not make these inspections a punitive process; in fact, quite the opposite. Under SIRE 2.0 there will be opportunities to demonstrate best practices and recognise excellence, as for the first time positive human observations that exceed expectations can be included in the reporting process. The compound result will be, in OCIMF’s view, a tanker inspection programme that is fit for the future, which enables industry to continuously learn and improve, and which can more readily evolve in line with the changing risk profile of the marine industry.