A ship is required to operate for a fixed mission period. Should a critical item of equipment fail at sea, the ship is subject to a costly event with potentially high risk to ship and crew. Given warning of a pending defect, the ship can try to return to port under its own power and thus attempt to avoid an at sea failure. Defects which lead to a failure are detected by inspection, and the task is to select the appropriate frequency of inspection to balance the number of occasions that a ship fails at sea and the number of preventive inspection based returns to port during a mission to correct a defect. The modelling entails using the delay time concept. Expressions are established for the expected number of preventive and failure returns over a mission, and an example given of a cost based balance to select an optimal inspection period. Although addressing ship reliability, the model has relevance to the mission reliability of any repairable equipment with remote main repair facilities.