THE Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s (AMSA) Executive Management Group met at Narooma from January 24-25 to discuss plans for the coming year including AMSA becoming the National Regulator of all domestic commercial vessels in Australia from March 25.
The AMSA meeting at the Narooma Golf Club has become a regular occurrence with the managers travelling down from Canberra each year around this time to discuss the year ahead.
From March 25, a single set of rules implementing a single set of nationally agreed vessel safety standards will come into effect.
What this means for industry is that eight regulators will change to one and the 50 sets of regulation will reduce to one.
The practical effect of this will mean, for the first time, a domestic commercial vessel that has national certification, operating with a crew that also has national certificates, will be able to operate around Australia without the need to seek a new survey when moving States or to seek a revalidation of crew qualifications.
The new system does not include recreational vessel operation or the management of state waterways which will remain under the control of the States.
The new system focuses on domestic commercial vessel construction standards, safety equipment, vessel operation and the qualifications of seafarers who operate them.
All Australian Governments agreed in August 2011 to create a single domestic commercial vessel safety regulator and since that time AMSA, in co-operation with all States and Territories, has been working to implement the change. In 2011 AMSA developed a Regulatory Plan to explain to industry how it proposed to move from 8 systems to one. Consultation on that continued from June to December 2011.
The Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012 was developed through several rounds of public consultation from December 2011, was introduced to the Australian Parliament in May 2012 and passed in August 2012. All Australian transport ministers have endorsed the new law.
AMSA has recently completed a further major round of consultation on the new arrangements involving public meetings at 19 locations around the country reaching 1300 maritime industry stakeholders. A number of those meetings were held in regional centres including one at Ulladulla in November last year.
The new arrangements involve Australian state and territory maritime safety agencies delivering services on behalf of AMSA. Once the new system is operational, industry will be dealing with the same people they do at the moment. However the rules, standards and processes throughout Australia will be the same regardless of where industry interacts with the system. A nationally consistent national system for domestic commercial vessel safety will greatly benefit particularly those parts of the commercial vessel industry that operate across borders.
You can find out more about the new National System through the AMSA website at http://www.nationalsystem.amsa.gov.au/
AMSA coordinates MV Orion rescue
AMSA was recently in the news when a solo sailor who spent three days in his life raft in the Southern Ocean was successfully rescued.
He was rescued by the adventure cruise ship the MV Orion that just happened to visit Montague Island back in 2010 with passengers ferried back and forth to the island while the ship moored on the western side.
Frenchman Alain DeLord's yacht was dismasted on Friday 18 January while he was attempting a round the world journey. He activated his EPIRB (distress beacon) at 1pm on Friday afternoon after abandoning his vessel 450 nautical miles from Hobart.
In a logistically challenging operation due to the remoteness of the location and the communication difficulties presented by Frenchman Alain not speaking English, AMSA’s Rescue Co-ordination Centre (RCC) coordinated five aircraft, two French interpreters, six drops of life rafts, communications equipment, food, water and a survival suit (including sourcing radios and satellite phones from around the country) and a cruise ship (which was more than 50 hours away) to assist in the rescue.
At 9.30pm on Sunday, Alain was safely aboard the cruise ship Orion and enjoying his first meal in three days.
During the operational debrief, Alain described how his life raft capsized in the rough seas five times, each time he had to swim back to it in water that was around nine degrees. He had been lucky to find his EPIRB in the yacht, which had flooded before he abandoned it. Our officers used the opportunity to learn what people in life rafts can see and hear when planes are dropping supplies and if the use of French interpreters on the planes, to maintain communication with him, was helpful.
Alain thanked the duty crews who he said have given him 'a second chance at life'. He also said that while sailing is his passion, now that he has a second life he will need to find a second hobby.