Significant number of ships do not comply with basic navigation safety requirements is finding from the AMSA FIC

Vessel image for illustrative purposes only
Vessel image for illustrative purposes only

AMSA conducted a Safety of Navigation Focused Inspection Campaign (FIC) over the period 1 August to the 8 September 2021 and, extremely concerning, they found that a significant number of ships failed to comply to basic navigation safety requirements.

The campaign focused specifically on:
– The level of compliance with the safety of navigation requirements of International Conventions;
– The familiarity of the master and officers with their processes for ensuring safety of navigation.

The campaign took place as a core part of AMSA’s Compliance Plan for 2021/22 and was scheduled for two months with a target of 200 inspections. Lockdowns in various states, and restrictions implemented to protect AMSA staff and the Australian public, meant that AMSA ceased the campaign early on 8 September 2021, after exceeding its target of 200 inspections.

The FIC results showed that a significant number of ships failed to comply to basic navigation safety requirements. The outcome and findings were:
– 278 ships were inspected during the FIC.
– AMSA detained 21 ships during the period of the FIC, 7 of which were directly attributed to the safety of navigation FIC. This shows that 33.33% of all detentions during the FIC related to safety of navigation, which is extremely concerning.

Further key findings of the FIC revealed that:
– 63 (23%) vessels were found to have bridge visibility obstructed by cargo gear or other obstructions forward of the beam. Not all observations resulted in a deficiency, with Inspectors noting that some obstructions were minor in nature and did not warrant the issuing of a deficiency,
– 16 (6%) vessels had not executed and monitored their previous voyage in accordance with the approved passage plan,
– 11 (4%) vessels SMSs did not contain guidance on best practice watchkeeping, including appropriate Under Keel Clearance (UKC) and safety contour settings;
– 9 (3%) vessels failed to properly appraise the passage plan prior to its execution, or have the passage plan available on both primary and back-up systems.

Whilst some of the results above are low by percentage, the consequence of these deficiencies can be severe resulting in collision, grounding, and significant pollution incidents.

On the other side of the coin, the most positive results were that the majority of vessels:
– Are using up to date Official Electronic Nautical Charts (99%);
– Have the required inputs to ECDIS connected and configured correctly (Gyro, Continuous position fixing system and speed and distance measure device) (97%);
– Maintain a proper lookout in accordance with the COLREGs (98%);
– Test navigation equipment to ensure its proper operation (98%).

Taking all of the above into consideration, AMSA intends to:
– Increase its focus on safety of navigation onboard ships that navigate in Australian waters and arrive at Australian ports;
– Undertake this campaign again in 12-18 months’ time.

Read another AMSA article here: How to properly stow and secure cargo containers guidance issued by AMSA

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