Commercial vessel crewing and safety operation reveals more education needed

14 June 2013

Operation Commercial Vessels carried out by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) during May revealed more work needs to be done around planned changes to the national standard for commercial vessels.

“There was a 97.1 per cent compliance rate for commercial vessels randomly checked by RMS Boating Safety Officers (BSO) during the campaign,” RMS Maritime Acting Director Michael Wright said.

“This is a high compliance rate but shows operators need more education ahead of the changes which are due to be introduced next month.

“There was found to be some complacency with crew records, drills and safety management system details.

“One of the biggest concerns was found to be many survey books were not being properly filled in, kept up to date and on board as required for all commercial vessels when at sea.

“There was no particular class of commercial vessel that performed better or worse than others although several tug boats had deficiencies which have now been rectified.

“In the south of the state, twelve formal warnings were issued for not displaying a current registration label. Two formal warnings were issued for unregistered vessels for which survey inspection fees had been paid but registration was not completed.

“The campaign included an education focus to gauge understanding of the pending NSCV legislation which from 1 July will see the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) become the national regulator for commercial vessels.

“The benefits of the national system will include a simplified set of maritime safety laws in time, a clear and consistent application of nationally agreed standards across the country, and a uniform approach to safety requirements.

“RMS will continue to provide services on behalf of AMSA for domestic commercial vessels and crew certificates.

“Anecdotal evidence gathered during the campaign revealed operators of larger vessels who travel to and from Sydney were aware of changes to the national standard for commercial vessels (NSCV) but local operators were not as aware, so more work needs to be done here.

“RMS will this month contact all commercial operators via a mail out, which follows a letter sent in November last year. A series of advertisements detailing the changes are also scheduled to appear in newspapers around NSW,” Mr Wright said.

There are about 9000 registered commercial vessels in NSW, including passenger boats, houseboats, party boats, oyster punts, work boats, fishing boats and tourist boats.

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