Port state control is an inspection program under which countries work together to verify that foreign vessels entering their waters are in compliance with strict international safety and anti-pollution standards. Ships that are found to be in serious violation of standards are detained in port until their deficiencies have been rectified. The objective of port state control is to detect and inspect substandard ships and help eliminate the threat that they pose to life, property and the marine environment.(source)
The key elements of port state control are:
ensuring compliance with international rules regarding safety, marine pollution and the working environment;
detaining substandard vessels when their condition so warrants and until deficiencies are rectified;
implementing a mutually agreed upon, annual minimum number of vessels inspected;
applying a targeting system when determining the selection of vessels for inspection;
harmonizing and strengthening - to the greatest extent possible - port state control procedures; and
providing technical assistance and training where the need is identified.
Interesting report (download pdf from here) from the Coasties on what their Maritime Safety and Security inspection teams found in 2004:
In 2004, a total of 7,241 individual vessels, from 81 different flag States, made 72,178 port calls
with 11,054 SOLAS safety and 6,087 ISPS exams conducted. The total number of ships
detained in 2004 increased 13.1% from 153 to 176. At the same time, the number of distinct
arrivals decreased 5.7% from 7,673 to 7,241.
Houston appears to have been the US's busiest port, with 9,921 arrivals. Miami was number 2, with over 7000 port calls. ("Distinct Vessel Arrivals: Number of ships greater than or equal to 500 Gross Ton, calling upon at
least one U.S. port in 2004. A vessel that makes 12 U.S. port calls in 2004 is counted as 1 distinct
arrival, not 12." However, each visit to a US port is a "port call.")
Boliva achieved a security detention ratio of 100% - Russia was next with 8.33%. Boliva seems to need some work on meeting the ISPS.
(Hat tip: Holland & Knight)