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  • Writer's pictureMARETEC Shipbrokers

Second-hand Ships: Pre-Purchase Inspection

As a shipbroker company specializing in the sale and purchase of second-hand cargo ships and other vessels, our goal is to secure optimal deals for our clients and guide them throughout the purchase process of the second-hand vessel.


When we have found the right vessel for our client and they are ready to inspect it, we recommend that the following key factors be considered during the pre-purchase inspections. These ship inspections can be conducted either by the buyer's own expert technical personnel or by external ship inspection specialists.

Cargo Ship Purchases: Key Pre-Purchase Inspection Elements
Ship Pre-Purchase inspection

Second-hand ship pre-purchase inspection

Our main recommendations during the pre-purchase inspection of the cargo ships are as follows:


Design and Construction

Check if the construction is in overall good condition and meets the standards expected of a cargo vessel of this type and age.


Examine the hull of the ship carefully, evaluating the overall condition and whether it is free of structural issues, defects, and indentations. Check the class records and related documents simultaneously. Inspect the coating for any corrosion or damages that need to be addressed.


Decks and Fittings

Inspect the decks closely, paying attention to the condition of fittings like cranes and winches to ensure they're operational and compliant with safety standards.


Ballast Tanks and Piping

Check for structural defects and leaks in ballast tanks and piping, verifying the proper functioning of valves and pumps. Inspect the coating in the ballast tanks for corrosion and check if there's mud/sediment contamination, requiring cleaning.



Evaluate the condition of living quarters, including floors, walls, and doors, along with the galley, provision rooms, and recreational areas on the ship to ensure crew comfort.


Bridge and Navigation Equipment

Confirm the functionality of brigde equipment such as navigation and communication equipment and log books, ensuring the bridge is fully operational and equipped for safe navigation according to the required standard.


Engine Room and Machinery

Thoroughly inspect the engine room and machinery to determine the overall condition. Identify any defects, oil leakage in the main engine, auxiliary engines, generators, purifiers, pumps, air compressors, sewage treatment plant, and other critical machinery. Check the condition of bilges and tank tops to ensure they are free of water and oil. Inspect pipes for corrosion, leaks, and general condition. Review the latest lubricating oil analysis reports. Check the propulsion system, shaft, gear, bearings, and bow thrusters. Verify the steering gear for leakage and ensure alarms and control systems are functional. Thoroughly check the main switchboard and all machinery.


Life-Saving Appliances and Firefighting

Inspect the presence and condition of lifeboats, life rafts, lifebuoys, and other safety equipment. Compliance with international regulations and standards is essential to guarantee the effectiveness of these appliances in critical situations. Inspect firefighting equipment.


Onboard Management

Evaluate crew competency, adherence to operational procedures, and maintenance practices. Review the vessel's Port State Control (PSC) inspection history for valuable insights into ship’s past deficiencies.


Cargo Hold

Examine the cargo hold, tank top, hatch covers, and cargo handling equipment for structural defects and overall condition.


Class Survey

Verify the validity of all class and statutory certificates, addressing any conditions or additional requirements to ensure compliance with regulations.


In conclusion, conducting a comprehensive pre-purchase inspection is crucial for ensuring the condition of second-hand cargo ships is in accordance with the requirements of the buyer. By carefully evaluating various elements such as the hull, deck fittings, ballast tanks, accommodation, navigation equipment, engine room machinery, safety appliances, onboard management, cargo hold, and class survey, buyers can minimize risks and make informed decisions. This thorough examination, whether conducted by internal experts or external specialists, safeguards the investment. With attention to detail and compliance with international ship regulations, buyers can secure the right deals and make informed ship purchases.


Interested in buying a ship? Check out the selection here!


By Álvur B. Mortensen, Managing Director at MARETEC Shipbrokers

© 2024 MARETEC Shipbrokers.

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About the Author:

Álvur B. Mortensen, Managing Director at MARETEC Shipbrokers, brings 31 years of maritime industry experience to the table.


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