What is a deficiency?

The IMO defines a deficiency as ‘a condition found not to be in compliance with the requirements of the relevant convention’. Serious deficiencies contribute to the ship being substandard or unseaworthy. AMSA will issue a ship with a deficiency if it is determined, or reasonably suspected, that the condition of a ship, its equipment, or performance of its crew does not comply with the requirements of relevant international conventions.

There was a slight decrease in the number of deficiencies issued in 2021 (6,242) compared to 2020 (6,387), corresponding with the decrease in PSC inspections from 3,021 to 2,820. The deficiency rate increased slightly from 2.1 in 2020 to 2.2 in 2021.

As shown later in Table 10, the rate of deficiencies per inspection by category increased for structure/equipment, human factors and MLC. The deficiency rate for the categories of operational and ISM remained unchanged.

Deficiencies by category and ship type

For reporting purposes, deficiencies have been categorised into groups that identify key areas of non-compliance, being structural/equipment, operational, human factors, ISM and MLC. Table 8 identifies the number of deficiencies by category along with a comparison of the deficiency rates to those in 2020.

If the number of deficiencies is considered in isolation, as depicted in Table 8, the majority of deficiencies were issued to bulk carriers. However, this is not surprising given bulk carriers accounted for 56 per cent of ship arrivals and 61 per cent of all inspections. To assess the performance of ship types, it is necessary to compare the deficiencies per inspection for each category as provided in table 9.

Top five deficiencies per inspection by ship type 2021

A total of 6242 deficiencies were issued in 2021 with the average deficiencies per inspection being 2.21Ship type (deficiencies per inspection)
1. Container ship – 3.53
2. Heavy Load Carrier – 2.96
3. Woodchip carrier – 2.68
4. Bulk carrier – 2.37
5. General cargo/multi-purpose ship – 2.27

Note: only ship types that had 10 or more inspections are included.

Table 8 – Deficiencies by category and ship type

Ship typeStructural/ equipmentOperationalHuman factorISMMLCPSC inspections
Bulk carrier2,0275935582176561,712
Chemical tanker811610618191
Combination Carrier100004
Commercial Yacht000001
Container ship4141728740128238
Gas carrier9230724
General cargo/multi-purpose ship16559701446156
Heavy load carrier37161151127
Livestock carrier355731436
NLS tanker18321527
Offshore service vessel6410110
Oil tanker791322612124
Oil tanker/chemical tanker16211016
Oil tanker/NLS tanker600051
Other types of ship252021226
Passenger ship1003002
Refrigerated cargo ship10106164
Ro-ro cargo ship832144
Special purpose ship202005
Vehicle carrier8528301219129
Wood-chip carrier74322393665
Totals for 20213,1259858423189722,820
2021 category deficiency rates1.
Totals for 20203,2379708403041,0363,021
2020 category deficiency rates1.

Table 9 – Rate of deficiencies per inspection by category and ship type

 Structural / EquipmentOperationalHuman FactorISMMLCTotal inspectionsTotal


Number of DetentionsDetention Rate
Bulk carrier1.180.350.330.130.381,7124,0512.371056.1%
Chemical tanker0.420.
Combination carrier0.
Commercial Yacht0.
Container ship1.740.720.370.170.542388413.53187.6%
Gas carrier0.380.
General cargo/ multi-purpose ship1.060.380.450.090.291563542.27127.7
Heavy load carrier1.370.590.410.190.4127802.96414.8%
Livestock carrier0.970.
NLS tanker0.670.
Offshore service
Oil tanker0.640.
Oil tanker/ chemical tanker1.
Oil tanker/NLS tanker6.
Other types of ship0.960.770.080.040.0826501.9200.0%
Passenger ship5.000.001.500.000.002136.50150.0%
Refrigerated cargo ship2.502.501.500.251.504338.25125.0%
Ro-ro cargo ship2.000.750.500.251.004184.50125.0%
Special purpose ship0.400.000.400.000.00540.8000.0%
Vehicle carrier0.660.
Wood-chip carrier1.140.490.350.140.55651742.6823.1%
Category deficiency rates1.110.350.300.110.34     

Figures in bold are the top five in each category; Figures in italics are above average.

Table 10 – Change in deficiency rate per inspection by category only

Human factors0.280.30