Introducing RightShip’s new vessel vetting criteria

In this article, RightShip’s Global Marine Standards Manager, Marc Forster, explains our vessel vetting criteria and highlights why it’s time for a new standard.

We’ve had a RightShip vetting standard in place since we started vetting, and it has been refreshed over the last 10 to 12 years, in line with market movements and new technologies. We use it to assess all vessels against and it represents our minimum requirements for good operational practices. Working on our mission to improve safety and sustainability in the maritime industry, we are launching a new vetting standard to continue our drive towards standards beyond compliance.

The new standard extends beyond the previous standard from 20 assessment items to 50 items. We have drilled down further in terms of incidents and PSC performance and looked at operator performance in more detail. Our team has added separate and brand-new sections for flag and class, ship structures, engineering, and a comprehensive section on human rights.

In addition, we have tried to make clear binary failings. This means if a vet fails on one of these hurdles, the vessel cannot be recommended at all. The new standard removes the grey areas and explains more about the standard of where an owner needs their ships to be in order to be eligible for recommendation. We’ve worked to set an enhanced vetting standard that benefits the industry. That means we have tried to communicate an acceptable standard and make it very clear, so that owners and operators know what they must work towards.

And we’ve expanded the coverage, so there are fewer times where our vetting officers have to dig around and ask questions in order to make decisions. This makes it much clearer and for all of our customers and internally. It will also make our vetting process much faster, as we have removed the grey areas and provided more structure to our vetting process.


What does good look like?

RightShip vets over 40,000 vessels a year, powered by a global team of vetting superintendents. This provides us with unique insights into the changing appetite for risk over time and the focus areas where charterers are asking for more bespoke vetting criteria. We’re in a market-leading position, as we see it from both sides.

In writing the new standard, we listened and learned from the practices seen by our vetting teams from our chartering customers and vessel managers. We have worked to consolidate the trends found from RightShip’s proprietary vessel vetting service, and cleansed incident databases and close out reports with the latest industry requirements, to better frame acceptability.

This means all vessels will be reviewed and receive an “acceptable” recommendation when they get a positive outcome from this criteria review. We’re redefining what best practice looks like, seeing the value of great initiatives and processes from across the industry and reflecting them in our new standard.

This delivers more scrutiny and less room for grey areas of safety, sustainability and social welfare practises. Our new standard requires superintendents to dig deeper to find the right level of information and provide a high standard of operation which the entire industry can get behind. We are answering the question, “what does good look like?”. It’s framed in the new criteria and we’re making clear what is not acceptable.


Continued path to improvement for the industry

The new standard provides far more consistency across all our chartering customers, with the baseline items focused on experience and feedback from all aspects of vetting. It is a unified standard which will be used by hundreds of chartering customers. That’s a big step forwards in improvement in safety standards for the industry.

Customers are able to add additional and more stringent safety criteria on top of RightShip’s Standard. However, the new standard provides greater clarity around the specific criterions that cover safety, the environment, human rights, and operational excellence. For example, we have a clear binary criterion stating that 35 years is the highest vessel age which will receive an “acceptable” recommendation.

Customers can modify this vetting criterion to be stricter, allowing them to go above and beyond our standard. For example, they can say 25 years old is the highest age of a vessel they’re prepared to charter. However, they cannot become lax in their risk appetite, by asking for vessels over 35 years old.

Of course, we need to keep bespoke criteria for berth fits and physical considerations, which is important for our customer’s unique trading patterns. These can be serviced by Terminal Questionnaires, which cover the specific physical requirements of entering that terminal.

However, by having a strong and clearly defined vetting standard, customers don’t need to have so much bespoke criteria in every vet. This brings uniformity to all our vets, speeds up the process and creates a standard for all vessel operators and managers to work towards. It’s moving the industry up a level in the constant pursuit of improvement in safety, sustainability and social responsibility.


How does the vetting standard support RightShip's Safety Ecosystem and sustainability products?

Safety standards

RightShip’s vetting standards are at the heart of RightShip’s ecosystem. The vetting standard was the inspiration for the Safety Score rules, bringing these two products together as many of the rules for SS1 and SS2 originate from the new vetting standard. RightShip inspections are also used in non-binary vetting standards decisions.

Sustainability standards

The RightShip standard includes a required “highly recommended” criterion. This means that a vessel which does not meet the criteria of a “GHG Rating better than F or G” will be highlighted at the vetting outcome. This requires all customers to confirm if they are happy to proceed with a vessel with a GHG Rating of F or G in order for the recommendation to be finalised and the due diligence time stamp to be recorded.

Increasing social welfare standards

We have seen an increased focus on social welfare for a vessel’s crew during 2020. In response, we’ve added in clear standards on human rights, which were not part of the last standard.

For example, we have included the following binary criterion:

“Any vessel Flagged with a country that has not adopted and ratified the 2006 Maritime Labour Convention and without an equivalent level of compliance (for example a valid ITF Agreement).”

This means all vessels will be reviewed and receive an “acceptable” recommendation based on a positive outcome from this review. By applying this to all vets for all of our chartering customers, we ensure that the dry cargo trade will now have MLC checks in place, with our vetting superintendents providing recommendations based on international maritime law and agreements with trade unions for every voyage. This ensures that all charterers now take social welfare into consideration every time they select a vessel for a voyage.


Next steps

For more information about RightShip’s vetting criteria, either to switch over to the new vetting standard as an existing RightShip vet requesting customer or if you just want to find out more about how vetting works, please contact