As outlined in the ISM Code there are three main duties of a DPA:
(1) The company shall designate a person who shall be responsible for monitoring the safe and efficient operation of each ship with particular regard to the safety and pollution prevention aspects.
(2) In particular, the designated person shall;
(a) take such steps as are necessary to ensure compliance with the company safety management system on the basis of which the Document of Compliance was issued; and
(b) ensure that proper provision is made for each ship to be so manned, equipped and maintained that it is fit to operate in accordance with the safety management system and with statutory requirements.
(3) The company shall ensure that the designated person:
(a) is provided with sufficient authority and resources; and
(b) has appropriate knowledge and sufficient experience of the operation of ships at sea and in port, to enable him to comply with paragraphs (1) and (2) above.
In layman’s terms, the DPA’s responsibilities are to (1) ensure the safe operation of each vessel, (2) monitor the safety and pollution-prevention aspects of the operation of the vessel and ensuring that adequate resources and shore-based support are applied, and (3) provide a link between the Managing Company and those on board, with direct access to the highest level of management.
For example, if a crew member is injured carrying out their usual work routines, the DPA must be contacted as soon as possible as it is his responsibility is to ensure various organasations are notified i.e. Flag Administration, Insurance etc.
The Safety Management Manual, which is vessel specific, contains instructions and information for safe and efficient operations of a specific vessel, and the DPA needs to oversee the operation of the vessel to ensure that proper provisions are made so that the requirements of the manual are complied with. The DPA needs to be accessible 24 hours a day, should be known by all crew and his contact details needs to be posted in an easily accessible and public place available to all crew, such as the crew notice board.