Managing and Reducing Risk in Fleet Operations

Easing the path to ISO standards and achieving quality management

Commercial maritime organisations have to contend with several risks during their everyday their operations. It’s a given fact. Risk represents an element of uncertainty that can, if not effectively understood and addressed, have a profoundly negative effect on a business.

For seafaring companies with vessels traveling routes around the world, there is always the risk of non-compliance with regulations and requirements in force, both local and international. In a regulatory environment that is becoming ever more stringent, the risk of non-compliance is a very real threat. Without embedded processes in place to identify and mitigate risk, companies can face substantial negative consequences, such as fines, loss of status, and even vessel impoundment.

Compliance takes many forms. It means having the correct, most up-to-date charts, publications and regulations available aboard, and it means having accurate, up-to-date, auditable logbooks, and the right certificates accessible to port authorities. These are some simple mandates that, if not followed, can cause major operational, logistical and economic disruptions for ship managers, ship owners and the customers they serve.

Having a framework in place to reduce risk at a high level, as opposed to merely addressing it in specific circumstances, enables higher quality operations. This can look like smoother port entries, better planned operations, and timely, well-planned voyages with clearly agreed-upon guidelines and a high degree of situational awareness. Quality management plays a key role in reducing risks associated with regulatory violations, and is something that every maritime organisation should prioritise.

Getting Quality Management in Place

The ISO 9001 standard establishes the criteria for a quality management system and indicates the need for a systematic approach to determining and adhering to one. Managing risk is central to upholding strong quality management.

According to the standard, actions taken to address risks and assess opportunities need to be planned. These actions should then be integrated into an organisation’s quality management system, and then evaluated for effectiveness. Addressing risk in effect means that a company can either work to reduce or eliminate it, or simply understand and accept it.

ISO 9001 certification validates that a maritime company has had its management operations and administrative functions documented by an independent third party. The certification represents a confirmation of quality, and indicates to customers, regulators, and other relevant stakeholders that there is a system in place capable of delivering a service that is safe, efficient, and high in quality.

All activities conducted by certified companies must be considered within the scope of the quality management system in place. This means that each activity needs to comply with ISO 9001 requirements if these companies want to renew their certification and continue passing ISO audits.

ISO 9001 certification is by no means mandatory unless referenced in specific EU Directives, but failure to achieve certification can have significant consequences for a company’s image. In maritime, lack of certification can imply that a company’s quality management system is not up to scratch and that the organisation lacks effectiveness in managing their operations relative to fluctuations inherent in the industry.

ISO 19600 is another relevant standard that can aid fleet owners and operators to identify and mitigate compliance risk. This standard provides a comprehensive guide for companies wanting to implement a compliance management system, or benchmark their existing framework.

Support and Enablement

In order for companies to be able to demonstrate their commitment to operating legally and within the highest of standards, adherence to the ISO 9001 and 19600 standards is a natural starting point. However, this is not always easy and the playing field is not always level.

Every relevant factor that maritime operators deal with in their daily operations is subject to fluctuation. Markets change all the time, as do the weather and sea conditions. Port congestion and regulatory constraints also require real-time reaction. OneOcean can support and enable decision-makers to react to changing circumstances with agility and appropriate consideration. High quality, integrated and contextualised data helps ensure that risk is effectively managed.

OneOcean’s state-of-the-art portfolio allows fleet owners and operators to view current information, assess risks, embed processes, monitor actions and analyse the results. In other words, they enable high quality practices that meet daily challenges and ensure compliance.

Managing the Risk

The maritime regulatory landscape is challenging, to say the least. While international maritime laws and regulations are governed by the IMO, there are also regulations imposed by classification societies, flag states, nations, and local regions. All have to be consulted as voyages are planned and executed.

Manually sourcing these regulations from multiple authorities, and interpreting how they will affect operations is time-consuming and prone to human error. Important details can easily be overlooked with the result of potentially costly violations.

OneOcean’s digital compliance solution Regs4ships provides access to a single, comprehensive database of marine regulations from official sources. Content is continually kept up to date by a team of experts, who apply regulatory amendments directly to digital documents. The solution removes uncertainty by highlighting upcoming changes and automating document control throughout the fleet.

Fleet Manager is a remote monitoring solution from OneOcean that uses both satellite and terrestrial AIS tracking to deliver real-time intelligence and advanced situational awareness to shoreside teams managing fleets. The solution provides a high level of oversight on events taking place aboard a vessel in relation to the its location, destination, and approved passage plan. All teams, both ship and shoreside, can view the same data for route tracking, weather conditions, environmental factors and regulatory information. This facilitates better communication between ship and shore, higher situational awareness and high level oversight that vessels are adhering to company policies and guidelines.

OneOcean’s Docmap is an advanced maritime document management system that eliminates complex and time-consuming paper trails for the many documents that vessels and shoreside teams must store and exchange throughout voyages. The solution simplifies safety and risk management protocols through easily tracked digital workflows that ensures vessels are always equipped with the official documents they need to carry to legally traverse international waters. Through Docmap, users can track, monitor, and analyse forms, certificates and reports exchanged between ship and shore. All documents that comprise a vessel’s safety management system can be stored and accessed by users with the possibility to save, categorise, and maintain thousands of documents. It also notifies when certificates are approaching their expiry date.

Record keeping is another essential onboard activity that all crews must undertake, but filling in and sharing paper logbooks is a cumbersome task for crews. The data collected needs to be held onboard for years, which means sharing paper copies with shoreside teams can be difficult. OneOcean’s LogCentral is an industry-leading reporting solution for digital record-keeping, monitoring, reporting, and compliance verification. Logbook entries for mandatory MARPOL record books are completed electronically with accuracy and ease, while logged events can be digitally tracked and analysed.

Comprehensive voyage planning is greatly facilitated with OneOcean’s Passage Manager. This ensures that vessels have up to date outfits and that passage plans are properly created and approved with all risks and safety impeding and environmental factors considered. Live weather forecasts are visually presented overtop projected routes to aid safe and fuel-saving route planning. Passage Manager quickly and dynamically updates plans to account for changes and developing circumstances.

To find out more how your organisation can benefit from digital solutions that enable high quality maritime operations for navigation, safety and compliance, contact us at [email protected] or visit our website at

11 December 2021