Developing an Effective Ship-to-Ship (STS) Service Provider Self-Assessment System

ship to ship operation

Ship-to-Ship (STS) transfers involve the exchange of cargo between two merchant tanker vessels positioned alongside each other. Whether it’s crude oil, liquefied gas, or other bulk cargoes, ensuring safe and efficient STS operations is crucial. Let’s dive into the key steps for creating a robust self-assessment system:

1. Understand the Context


Define the scope of your self-assessment system. Consider the specific services provided by your STS service provider. Are you involved in oil, gas, or other types of cargo transfers?

Regulations and Guidelines

Familiarize yourself with relevant regulations, industry standards, and guidelines. For example, the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) provides valuable resources for STS operations.

2. Key Components of the Self-Assessment System

Safety Management Systems (SMS) Assessment

Evaluate your existing SMS against key performance indicators (KPIs). These KPIs should cover areas such as:

  • Crew training and competence
  • Equipment maintenance and reliability
  • Emergency response procedures

Environmental Management

Assess pollution prevention measures, waste management practices, and energy efficiency. STS operations must minimize environmental impact.

Maritime Security

Include security-related elements in your assessment. Ensure compliance with security protocols and safeguard against threats.

Reliability and Maintenance of STS Equipment

Regularly inspect and maintain STS equipment. Reliable hoses, fenders, and mooring lines are essential for safe cargo transfer.

Due Diligence Regarding Transhipment Locations

Evaluate the suitability and safety of transhipment locations. Consider factors like weather conditions, water depth, and proximity to sensitive areas.

STS Operations Evaluation

Review operational procedures, communication protocols, and risk management. Identify areas for improvement.

Continuous Improvement Plans Use assessment results to develop improvement plans. Encourage a culture of continuous learning and enhancement

3. Levels of Assessment

Minimum Expectation Level

Identify the baseline requirements for safety and pollution prevention. These are non-negotiable standards that must be met.

Best Practice Guidance Levels Define additional levels of best practices. Encourage continuous improvement beyond the minimum expectations. Consider aligning with the Tanker Management Self Assessment (TMSA) guidelines.

4. Alignment with Existing Standards

TMSA and Other Frameworks

Align your self-assessment elements with established frameworks. Incorporate relevant updates related to environmental management and energy efficiency.

Streamlining and Clarity

Remove ambiguity and duplication from best practice guidance. Streamline assessment elements for consistency.


Developing an effective STS Service Provider Self-Assessment System requires commitment, collaboration, and proactive safety measures. By continuously evaluating and enhancing your management systems, you contribute to safer and more efficient STS operations.

Marine Surveyor Consultant Sagl

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