- Know what you need. Hiring a workboat can be a minefield if you are not absolutely certain of your technical requirements. You must start with as detailed a scope of operations as possible. There have been situations of charterers contracting vessels only to discover upon arrival that the vessel is incapable of performing some of the required operations roles. Even if a vessel supplier states a boat is up to your requirements it is a very good idea to have an independent surveyor inspect the vessel and advise if it is capable of conducting your operations. Workboathire.com provides the worlds largest publically available list of workboats for hire and can help with your selection of appropriate vessels.
- Crew Selection Can be fraught with complications and very important to agree with the vessel supplier prior to signing on the dotted line. Many suppliers offer crewed and bareboat options. Both need to be considered in detail. You will need to consider if a supplied crew is up to the technical components of your requirements. Particularly important is that you ensure all crew certification is current and valid in the location/category of your intended operations.
- Compliance is one of the greatest risk areas for any organisation hiring a vessel. Many worldwide national administrations will hold the charterer responsible for all health and safety requirements. It is important to understand that no matter what assurances you receive from a vessel supplier, they must adhere to your safety management policy. It could also be your responsibility to ensure all qualifications and certifications are current and relevant. Seeking independent professional advice is a very good idea. The issue with compliance is that you may not know you are at risk until you have an incident.
- Insurance Is an area which must not be overlooked. Most hire companies will have this covered for their end, but it is worth ensuring adequate insurance is in place for your area and operations which will not only cover the vessel, but also the crew, public liability and professional indemnity. Sending the hire agreement to your insurers can be a good idea as it will also help iron out any double insurance issues.
- Maintenance is generally the hirers responsibility. It is therefore wise to ensure you have provisions and the technical capacity to effect the required maintenance. Maintenance plans must be agreed and understood. Failing to conduct required maintenance can result in some hefty bills.
Another organisation that could help is the International Marine Contractors Association. They have produced a Common Marine Inspection Document (CMID) which registers many charter company’s vessels that may be of value to you.
Overall hiring a workboat can be a complicated and confusing process for organisations unfamiliar with the process. However, if you adhere to the above key points you should start on the correct path.