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This article explores the lessons that might be learned from port State con-trol (PSC) inspections for flag States, examining the scholarly literature on vessel risk targeting. It begins by identifying the major classification socie-ties (and recognized organizations or ROs) before discussing the obligations and responsibilities of governments in achieving a global ‘safer ships and cleaner seas’ objective. It then presents a framework for thinking about the relationship between owner/operators, ship classification societies, flag State authorities and PSC parties in order to improve safety, discussing where gaps remain in the execution of the objective. The author draws con-clusions about where the future focus by flag States might achieve addi-tional improvements in their oversight of classification societies when they act as ROs, carrying out ship survey and certification functions on behalf of flag States. Identified challenges include improving the quality of data used in vessel risk targeting, expanding the transparency of that data for RO oversight, and focusing efforts on those flag States and ROs who do not meet their obligations.

In: Ocean Yearbook Online