Procedural requirements for Radio Surveyors (Inspectors) by IACS

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The objective of this procedure is to set minimum requirements for approval and certification of service suppliers and is applicable to both initial and renewal audits to approve firms providing services, such as measurements, tests or maintenance of safety systems and equipment.

To whom it should be applied:

-       Manufacturer: A company that manufactures equipment required to be periodically serviced and/or maintained. 

-       Service Supplier (A Service Supplier or category of Service Supplier may be referred to here after simply as ‘supplier’): A person or company, not employed by an IACS Member, who at the request of an equipment manufacturer, shipyard, vessel's owner or other client acts in connection with survey inspection work and provides services for a ship or a mobile offshore drilling unit such as measurements, tests or maintenance of safety systems and equipment, the results of which are used by surveyors in making decisions affecting classification or statutory certifications and services. 

-       Agent: A Person or Company authorised to act for or to represent a Manufacturer or approved/recognized service supplier. 

-       Subsidiary: A Company partly or wholly owned by a Manufacturer or approved/recognized service supplier. 

-       Subcontractor: A Person or Company providing services to a Manufacturer
or approved/recognized service supplier, with a formal contract defining the assumption of the obligations of the service supplier. 

IACS Member

This procedure applies to the approval of the following categories of service suppliers:

  • Firms engaged in servicing inflatable liferafts, inflatable lifejackets, hydrostatic release units, inflatable rescue boats, marine evacuation systems 

  • Firms engaged in surveys inspections and testing of radio communication equipment 

  • Firms engaged in surveys inspections and maintenance of self contained breathing apparatus 

  • Firms engaged in annual performance testing of Voyage Data Recorders (VDR) and simplified Voyage Data Recorders (S-VDR) 

  • Firms engaged in sound pressure level measurements of public address and general alarm systems on board ships 

  • Firms engaged in surveys inspections of low location lighting systems using photo luminescent materials and evacuation guidance systems used as an alternative to low- location lighting systems 

  • Firms engaged in the servicing and maintenance of lifeboats, launching appliances, on- load release gear and davit-launched liferaft automatic release hooks. 

  • Firms engaged in inspection, performance testing and maintenance of Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) 

Submission of documents

The following documents are to be submitted for review:

-       Outline of company, e.g. organisation and management structure, including subsidiaries to be included in the approval/certification 

-       List of nominated agents, subsidiaries and subcontractors 

-       Experience of the company in the specific service area 

-       For categories of Service Suppliers that require authorization from manufacturers, manufacturer’s documentary evidence that the Service Supplier has been authorized or licensed to service the particular makes and models of equipment for which approval is sought shall be provided

-       List of operators/technicians/inspectors documenting training and experience within the relevant service area, and qualifications according to recognised national, international or industry standards, as relevant 

-       Description of equipment used for the particular service for which approval is sought 

-       A guide for operators of such equipment 

-       Training programmes for operators/technicians/inspectors 

-       Check lists and record formats for recording results of the services referred to in Annex 1 

-       Quality Manual and/or documented procedures covering requirements in 5.5 

-       Documented procedures for communication with the crew prior to commencing work, so that it is safe to decommission the equipment being maintained, and to provide a safe system of work in place 

-       Evidence of approval/acceptance by other bodies, if any 

-       Information on the other activities which may present a conflict of interest 

-       Record of customer claims and of corrective actions requested by certification bodies 

General requirements

Extent of Approval – The supplier shall demonstrate that it has the competence and control needed to perform the services for which approval is sought.

Training of personnel – The supplier is responsible for the qualification and training of its personnel to a recognised national, international or industry standard as applicable. Where such standards do not exist, the supplier is to define standards for the training and qualification of its personnel relevant to the functions each is authorised to perform. The personnel shall also have adequate experience and be familiar with the operation of any necessary equipment. Operators/technicians/inspectors shall have had a minimum of one year tutored on-the-job training. Where it is not possible to perform internal training, a program of external training may be considered as acceptable.

Supervision – The supplier shall provide supervision for all services provided. The responsible supervisor shall have had a minimum of two years of experience as an operator/technician/inspector within the activity for which the supplier is approved. For a supplier consisting of one person, that person shall meet the requirements of a supervisor.

Personnel records – The supplier shall keep records of the approved operators/technicians/inspectors. The record shall contain information on age, formal education, training and experience for the services for which they are approved.

Equipment and facilities – The supplier shall have the necessary equipment and facilities for the service to be supplied. A record of the equipment used shall be kept and available. The record shall contain information on maintenance and results of calibration and verifications. The Society shall assess and record the validity of previous measuring results when the equipment is found not to conform to requirements. The Society shall take appropriate action on the equipment affected.

Control of data:
When computers are used for the acquisition, processing, recording, reporting, storage, measurement assessment and monitoring of data, the ability of computer software to satisfy the intended application shall be documented and confirmed by the service supplier. This shall be undertaken prior to initial use and reconfirmed as necessary.

Where several servicing stations are owned by a given company, each station is to be assessed and approved.

Procedures – The supplier shall have documented work procedures covering all services supplied.

Subcontractors – The supplier shall give information of agreements and arrangements if any parts of the services provided are subcontracted. Particular emphasis shall be given to quality management by the supplier in following-up such subcontracts. Subcontractors providing anything other than subcontracted personnel or equipment.

Verification – The supplier shall verify that the services provided are carried out in accordance with approved procedures.

Reporting – The report shall be prepared in a form acceptable to the Society. The report should detail the results of surveys inspections, measurements, tests, maintenance and/or repairs carried out. The report shall include a copy of the Certificate of Approval.

Documented procedures and instructions should be available for the recording of damages and defects found during survey (inspection), servicing and repair work. This documentation is to be made available upon request.

Auditing of the Supplier – Upon reviewing the submitted documents with satisfactory result, the supplier is audited in order to ascertain that the supplier is duly organised and managed in accordance with the submitted documents, and that it is considered capable of conducting the services for which approval/certification is sought.

Certification is conditional on a practical demonstration of the performance of the specific service as well as satisfactory reporting being carried out. At renewal audits, evidence of performance, verified by class surveyor, since the previous audit is sufficient to satisfy this requirement.

Quality System

The supplier shall have a documented system covering at least the following:

-       code of conduct for the relevant activity 

-       maintenance and calibration of equipment 

-       training programmes for operators/technicians/inspectors 

-       supervision and verification to ensure compliance with operational procedures 

-       recording and reporting of information 

-       quality management of subsidiaries, agents and subcontractors 

-       job preparation 

-       periodic review of work process procedures, complaints, corrective actions, and issuance, maintenance and control of documents 

A documented Quality system complying with the most current version of ISO 9000 series and including the above items, would be considered acceptable. 

If a manufacturer of equipment (and/or its service supplier) applies to a Society for inclusion of its nominated agents and/or subsidiaries in the approval, then it must have implemented a quality system certified in accordance with the most current version of ISO 9000 series. The quality system must contain effective controls of the manufacturer’s (and/or service supplier’s) agents and/or subsidiaries. The nominated agents/subsidiaries must also have in place an equally effective quality system complying with the most current version of ISO 9000 series. Such approvals shall be based upon an evaluation of the quality system implemented by the parent company against the most current version of ISO 9000 series. The Society may require follow-up audits on such agents or subsidiaries against the most current version of ISO 9000 series to confirm adherence to this quality system. 

Service Suppliers Relations with the Equipment Manufacturer

A company which works as a service station for manufacturer(s) of equipment (and as a service supplier in this field), shall be assessed by the manufacturer(s) and nominated as their agent. The manufacturer shall ensure that appropriate instruction manuals, material etc. are available for the agent as well as proper training of the agent’s technicians.


Upon satisfactory completion of both the audit of the supplier and the demonstration test, as applicable, the Society may issue a Certificate of Approval stating that the supplier’s service operation system has been found to be satisfactory and that the results of services performed in accordance with that system may be accepted and utilised by the Society’s Surveyors in making decisions affecting classification or statutory certification, as relevant. The Certificate shall clearly state the type and scope of services and any limitations or restrictions imposed including type of equipment and/or names of Manufacturers of equipment where this is a limiting restraint. The supplier may also be included in the Society’s record of approved service suppliers.

Renewal or endorsement of the Certificate is to be made at intervals not exceeding five (5) years by verification through audits that approved conditions are maintained or, where applicable, on expiry of the supplier’s approval received from an equipment Manufacturer, whichever comes first. In the latter case, the Society is to be informed in due course by the Service Supplier. Individual Societies may require renewal or endorsement of the Certificate at intervals shorter than five (5) years and may require intermediate audits. For firms engaged in thickness measurements, renewal/endorsement of the Certificate is to be made at intervals not exceeding 3 years by verification that original conditions are maintained. 

Firms engaged in surveys (inspections) and testing of radio communication equipment

Extent of engagement

-       Surveys, inspection, testing, and/or measurement of radio equipment aboard ships or mobile offshore units for compliance with SOLAS regulations 

-       Annual testing of 406 MHz satellite EPIRBs for compliance with SOLAS Regulation IV/15.9 

-       The principles of this section also apply to Service Suppliers involved in inspection, performance testing and maintenance of Automatic Identification Systems (AIS).The Service Supplier is to be familiar with the equipment with which it will be involved, such as being a service agent for the equipment manufacturer 

Reference documents – The supplier shall have access to the following documents:

-       SOLAS 1974 as amended 

-       IMO Res. A.789(19): Specification on the survey and certification functions of recognised organisations acting on behalf of the administration 

-       MSC/Circ.1040/Rev.1 – Guidelines on Annual Testing of 406 MHZ Satellite EPIRBs 

-       MSC.1/Circ.1252 – Guidelines on Annual Testing of the Automatic Identification System (AIS) 

-       SN/Circ.227, SN/Circ.227/Corr.1 and 245 – Guidelines for the Installation of a Shipborne Automatic Identification System (AIS) and amendments thereto 

-       ITU Radio Regulations 

-       IMO Performance Standards for the equipment for which the Service Supplier is approved 

-       Flag State Administration requirements 

-       Relevant parts, if any, of the Society’s Rules and Guidelines 

Supervisor – The supervisor shall have a minimum two years education from a technical school, experience as inspector, and should preferably hold a General Operator’s Certificate (GOC) or a GMDSS Radioelectronic Certificate (REC), recognised by the ITU, to operate or test radio transmitters. He should be aware of any local conditions for radio signal propagation, of regional radio stations and their facilities, and of the GMDSS infrastructure.

Radio inspector – The inspector carrying out the inspection shall have passed the internal training of the supplier in Radiotelephony, GMDSS, and initial and renewal surveys, as applicable. The inspector shall also have at least one year’s technical school training or as alternative hold evidence that he followed a technical course approved by the relevant Administration, at least one year’s experience as an assistant radio inspector and should preferably hold an appropriate National Radio Operators Certificate, recognised by the ITU, such as a GMDSS General Operator’s Certificate (GOC) or a GMDSS Radioelectronic Certificate (REC). He should be aware of any local conditions for radio signal propagation, of regional radio stations and their facilities, and of the GMDSS infrastructure.

Equipment and facilities

The supplier shall have the major and auxiliary equipment required for correctly performing the inspection. A record of the equipment used shall be kept. The record shall contain information on manufacturer and type of equipment, and a log of maintenance and calibrations.

A standard which is relevant to the radio equipment to be tested shall be available for the equipment and shall be cited in the inspection report.

For equipment employing software in conjunction with the testing/examination, this software shall be fully described and verified.

Minimum required instruments:

-       Equipment for measuring frequency, voltage, current and resistance 

-       Equipment for measuring output and reflect effect on VHF and MF/HF.

-       Equipment for measuring modulation on MF/HF and VHF (AM, FM, PM) 

-       Acid tester for checking specific gravity of lead batteries 

-       Tester for checking of correct output from Free-Float Satellite EPIRB.

-       Equipment for testing the performance of Automatic Identification Systems (AIS).

Procedures and instructions – The supplier shall have documented procedures and instructions for how to carry out testing and examination of radio equipment. Procedures and instructions for operating each item of the testing/inspection equipment shall also be kept and be available at all times.

Acceptance of Statutory Service Suppliers 

The IACS Unified Requirement UR Z17.1.2 states:

"Where such services are used by Surveyors in making decisions affecting statutory certifications, the firms are subject to approval by the Society where the Society is so authorized by the relevant flag Administration. For such services the Society may accept approvals done by the flag Administration itself or duly authorized organizations on behalf of the flag Administration." (i.e. the flag of the ship on which the servicing is to be done or the serviced equipment is to be used).

In other words, where the IACS Member Society is authorized by the flag Administration to carry out statutory surveys and that flag Administration has approved the supplier, the Society may accept that approval. The Society may also accept approval of another IACS Member Society when both parties are authorized to conduct statutory surveys on behalf of an Administration. However, whether to accept the approval of other Members is always subject to individual Societies' consideration on a case by case basis taking into account paragraph 1.2 of Z 17. 


Procedural requirements for Survice Suppliers by IACS. Z17

- Acceptance of Approvals of Service Suppliers by onother IACS Member 

Annual testing of VDR, S-VDR, AIS and EPIRB. IACS UI SC.279. 2016


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