Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Safe manning for vessels

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority is responsible for meeting Australia’s obligations for ensuring that all ships are sufficiently and efficiently manned under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 as amended (SOLAS). Furthermore, AMSA is charged with ensuring that companies and crews of vessels adhere to the watchkeeping arrangements and principles outlined in the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers 1975, as amended (STCW) in order to ensure that vessel crewing is adequate and hours of work and rest are managed to minimise fatigue. The Navigation Act 2012 provides AMSA with the powers to issue Minimum Safe Manning Documents to Regulated Australian Vessels.

Who requires a Minimum Safe Manning Document?

All self-propelled regulated Australian vessels, except those <500GT operating within designated port limits, require a Minimum Safe Manning Document (MSMD) issued by AMSA.

Applying for a Minimum Safe Manning Document

Companies should complete an Application for a Minimum Safe Manning document (AMSA 93) [word docDOC: 959Kb] and submit it to manning@amsa.gov.au

Minimum safe manning is deemed to be the minimum manning to allow a vessel to travel safely from one port to another. A minimum safe manning document does not necessarily state the operational manning that a vessel may require to conduct any specialised operations at sea or alongside. The onus is on the owner/operator of the vessel to identify and allow for the operations that the vessel will undertake, and any additional crewing that may be required when making their manning submission.

For vessels of unusual design or with specially adapted technical developments or vessels with unusual trading patterns AMSA may require a more detailed submission that shows greater depth and insight into the elements that influence crew workload and the proposed minimum safe manning.

For applications that propose a reduction in minimum safe manning for a vessel that already holds an AMSA MSMD will require a more detailed submission than allowed by the completion of this form alone.

Subject to vessel size, it is possible that a vessel of less than 3000 GT may be eligible for separate Minimum Safe Manning documents for near coastal and international operations. Companies should discuss this with AMSA on applying for their MSMD.

Regulated Australian vessels (Navigation Act 2012, Section 15) of less than 80 meters in length and with a total propulsion power of less than 3000 kW operating solely within the Australian exclusive economic zone (EEZ) may be manned with seafarers holding near coastal certificates of competency issued in compliance of the NSCV Part D – Crew competencies (November 2013). Owners and operators of regulated Australian vessels operating within the EEZ wishing to employee seafarers holding NSCV Part D seafarer certificates must take into consideration that these seafarers may not have completed all relevant STCW short courses. Owners and operators must undertake an assessment of the STCW short courses that may be appropriate or required for the vessels that they operate. An assessment of STCW short courses required to be held by seafarers for a vessel must be included when applying for a MSMD. 

In preparing their application companies should be guided by the following references:

AMSA will assess the proposal, liaise with the applicant as required, and issue the minimum safe manning document/s on completion. 

The Marine Order 70 series of Orders came in force on 1 April 2014. The introduction of these Marine Orders has necessitated that AMSA grant two exemptions for existing seafarers serving on Regulated Australian Vessels.

Navigation Act Qualifications (Ratings) Exemption 2016 [PDF Icon PDF: 27Kb]

Navigation Act Qualifications (Engineer Officers) Exemption 2016 [PDF Icon PDF: 82Kb]

Manning assessments for eligible foreign Flagged vessels operating in Australian near coastal waters

AMSA is aware of cases in which flag States have issued manning documents to vessels accepting Australian coastal qualifications and manning. This is appropriate and is in line with international practice.

AMSA is also aware that prior to 1 July 2013 a number of foreign flagged vessels operating domestically employed Australian crews under documentation issued by Australian State or Territory maritime regulators. Under the Navigation Act 2012, this practice is no longer acceptable and, as for any other foreign flagged vessel, the minimum manning, including the qualifications of crew, must be determined and documented by the flag State.
Accordingly, AMSA, along with Australian State and Territory Maritime Regulators confirm that:

  • The flag State has sole responsibility for certification and safe operations of vessels under their flag, regardless of voyage or operating area.
  • The flag State is responsible for determining minimum manning levels and qualifications on their vessels and for issuing associated documentation.

Recognising these principles and in order to deliver continuity of operations AMSA and the Australian State and Territory Maritime Regulators confirm that compliance with the Navigation Act 2012 can be achieved by the following means:

  • A flag State issuing evidence that it accepts Australian seafarers and Australian near-coastal qualifications on a particular vessel under its control, or
  • A flag State requesting AMSA issue a minimum safe manning document in accordance with their instructions, on their behalf, as permitted in SOLAS Regulation I/13.

AMSA will accept an assessment under either option 1 or 2 for port State control purposes so long as:

  • the manning and qualifications are no less than that required for an Australian vessel of similar size with similar operations; and
  • the vessel has an appropriate safety management system in place (see next section).

To assist flag States in assessing these requirements AMSA can provide an assessment on the minimum safe manning that is acceptable were the vessel a regulated Australian vessel operating under either the Navigation Act 2012 or National Law.

In no circumstance will AMSA override, or object to, any ruling by a flag State that they will not accept Australian manning or near-coastal qualifications.

Operators seeking an Australian near coastal manning assessment for a foreign Flagged vessel should also complete an Application for a Minimum Safe Manning Determination (AMSA 93) and submit to manning@amsa.gov.au

On completion of the assessment AMSA will forward a letter to the operator specifying the Australian near coastal manning assessment for the vessel.

Fees

Fees are payable for a Minimum Safe Manning determination for both Australian and Foreign Flagged vessels.

Manning queries

All manning queries and requests should be addressed to manning@amsa.gov.au

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