Do you have a maritime consultant available at a moment’s notice?

If not you may be in a world of hurt in the event of a marine incident, especially if it involves serious injury or loss of life!

Having a consultant that has extensive hands-on experience at the coal face in all DCV sectors and not just pieces of paper hanging on the wall.

An experienced consultant can guide you through the minefield of marine incidents, provide advice on many maritime issues and assist with the many issues that often arise out of the blue.

Take marine incidents as an example, if you follow MO504 Clause 9 Follow-up on hazardous occurrences and non-conformities you need to complete a form that:

  • Identifies the date the form was completed
  • Identifies who completed the form
  • Provides the contact details of the person completing the form
  • Provides details of the incident or non-conformity
  • Details the actions taken to prevent or minimise it happening again.

This form should be completed every time there is an incident or non-conformity identified, you do that don’t you? If you don’t, then you’re not complying with MO504!

While this may sound easy it can be tricky to complete, that is why having an experienced marine consult is a valuable asset. They should be able to identify what went wrong and provide reliable advice on how to prevent or minimise it happening again.

Then we have training issues, how often do you need to undertake ongoing training (drills) and what drills should be prioritised.

These and so many other things are what an experienced maritime consultant can help you with. So, do you have a marine consultant that has hands on experience in vessel operations, emergency response and all the other items required?

In addition a consultant must know and understand all required legislation and AMSA requirements to ensure you get the right advice. They must also be able to work with AMSA and WHS to ensure any advice given is accurate and up to date.

While there are a lot of maritime consultants out there, most of them are focused on ships and shipping not DCV’s in sectors such as commercial fishing, charter operations, etc.

What you need is a company with a long history in DCV’s in all sectors and whose consultants have not only the qualifications but also extensive hands on experience in vessel operations, management and all the other aspects required to provide you with a first grade consultancy service.

You need a consultant that can and does deliver when needed, not just based on $’s. Your consultant must value your business and the safety of all workers and crew members.

When you’re looking for a consultant that can deliver you need to determine their background and level of experience in the area you operate. You need to do this to ensure they can deliver the best possible service and provide outcomes that benefit you and your business.

Many consultants want to be put on a retainer and that is understandable but not always practical for you due to frequency or requirements and potential financial constraints.

The bottom line is you need to have direct access to a credible marine consultant when you need one!

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our top recommendation is to seek a consultant who specialises in DCV’s and who has both the technical and operational background to deliver what you need. Also, ensure they can deliver not only what you need but also on time and budget.

Don’t enter into an ongoing financial commitment without going through what you get, how many consultancy hours are included and the ongoing cost above those hours.


Have a look at Shorlink’s Managed Service plans where we include consultancy hours based on your operational history. It works out cheaper than you think!

Alternatively contact our office for an obligation free discussion about what we can deliver for you!

If you’re navigating in the same waters regularly it’s easy to become complacent! Too many Master’s simply don’t take it seriously enough which results in incidents resulting in damage to or loss of the vessel and/or minor to critical injuries to loss of life or damage to infrastructure.

Navigating safely is something we all should do every time we or our crew operate our vessels!

Unfortunately, it’s not always the case and that can be for a number of reasons, one of which there is no set procedure for safe operation.

While on commercial vessels, Masters have been trained in the COLREGS.  There are a few that seem to disregard their responsibility in navigating safely.

On recreational vessels, owners or Masters do not go through the same level of training as commercial Masters which has been a common cause of marine incidents over the years.

Fatigue is also a major contributor to marine incidents around navigation. Long working hours, a lack of water intake and limited sleep are contributors to incidents when navigating your vessel.

Here’s an example a crew member was on watch whilst steaming home from around 180NM off the coast. The First Mate came up from his cabin to use the head at around 0230 hours and as he walked through the wheelhouse he looked out the front window.

What he saw scared the hell out of him, there was a large trawler less than 200 metres directly ahead and if he had not came up they would have had a major collision. The crew member on watch was “zoned out” and just staring ahead and failed to register anything.

There’s two issues here, firstly the First Mates boat was steaming at around 8 knots with nobody alert to recognise the danger.

Secondly, what were the crew of the trawler doing? Most likely all asleep and failing to maintain a proper lookout.

This entire situation is a result of not navigating safely and poor watchkeeping all of which can and has led to serious incidents, loss of vessels and critical injuries through to loss of lives!

With the technology available today, navigation is so much easier than it was years ago but… what happens if there’s an electrical failure onboard and you loose all navigational equipment other than your magnetic compass?

It’s a simple task when steaming to note your position at set times, say every two hours in your log book or on a paper so as they can be referenced if you lose your electronic navigational equipment.

During training exercises we found that shutting down the electronic equipment on a vessel then asking the Masters’ in training where we are and how do we get back to shore some were totally dismayed.

Here’s a silly hint: If you’re on the East coast by steaming West you’re going to discover Australia eventually! Remember though that you need to take into account all potential hazards such as islands, reefs, shoals, etc. but you can find these on your paper chart if needed.

Navigation is all about going from one location to another safely. Your SMS should have a Navigating Safely procedure which details what’s required to ensure your voyage is completed safely.

In order to protect you as a vessel owner and/or operator developing a procedure for navigating your vessel safely provides you with a level of protection should your Master decide not to follow the procedure. This applies to both commercial and recreational vessels!

So…let’s look at what’s required in your procedure to provide that level of protection:

  • Ensure all relevant crew are trained and are competent in the use of the vessel’s navigation equipment such as radar, compass, GPS, other devices and all alarms;
  • Inspect, maintain or have serviced all of the vessel’s navigational aids;
  • Update charts, information, etc… relevant to your operations;
  • Plan voyages;
  • Sounding appropriate signals such as going astern;
  • Monitoring of the vessels position by all available means;
  • Following procedures for operating in restricted visibility (you do have one don’t you?);
  • Communicating with other vessels when required;
  • Monitoring the auto pilot for correct course.

These are the basic steps required to ensure your procedure for navigating safely covers the requirements.

You need to include any specific steps that may be relevant to your vessel and its operations to ensure you meet those requirements.

Also, there is a significant difference in navigating safely on a clear sunny day to navigating at night or in restricted visibility. Much greater care needs to be taken when navigating at night or in restricted visibility due to the increased dangers involved.

All too often we see vessels, both commercial and recreational being operated at night or in periods of restricted visibility as though it was a clear sunny day!

If navigating in restricted visibility, at night or in at times when vision is obscured in areas by the sun in areas where potential hazards exist place a lookout on the bow and proceed at reduced speed.

Vessel speed, lack of attention or being distracted are the cause of accidents which have resulted in injuries through to loss of life and/or damage to infrastructure or the environment.

Many if not all of the incidents could have been avoided by practicing safe navigation and remember navigating safely also has a direct linkage to watchkeeping.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our recommendation is to either review your Navigating Safely procedure or if you don’t have one..  get it in place today!

While we all like to think your crew will navigate your vessel safely, unfortunately it’s not always the case.  That’s why having a Navigating Safely procedure in place is critical.


Use the dot point items in this newsletter to get you underway with updating your procedure or developing one if you don’t already have it in place.

If you have any problems developing your Navigating Safely procedure or feel you have special circumstances – don’t hesitate to contact our office for assistance as we’re here to help you!

Stay safe by navigating safely at all times!

More on what you need to know in relation to Marine Order 505 which was released this January 2023 and how they may impact your operations.

We’ve had ongoing detailed discussions with AMSA over what I’m about to detail for you.

If you operate a DCV with deckhands then they need to have a General Purpose Hand (GPH) certificate.

No matter what industry sector you operate in, commercial fishing, charter, etc. all deckhands are required to hold a GPH certificate.

Here is what’s required!

Below is an extract from AMSA advice. What is basically means is that if you provide direct supervision to a deckhand they do not require a GPH certificate.

With a GPH certificate they only require general supervision.

When is a General Purpose Hand NC certificate required?

General Purpose Hand NC can:

  1. Assist with deck work on a vessel <100 m long and <3000 GT <EEZ under general supervision of the Master of the vessel or an appropriately certified crew member to whom the Master delegates the supervision
  1. Assist with engine work on a vessel with engine power <3000 kW <EEZ under general supervision of the Chief Engineer of the vessel or an appropriately certified crew member to whom the chief engineer delegates the supervision

Note: This means that a person assisting with deck work or engine work under direct supervision rather than general supervision is not required to hold a certificate

Under the new MO505, section 4:

Deck work means operation or lookout tasks for any of the following:

  • navigation
  • mooring
  • anchoring
  • cargo

Engine work means tasks relating to main or auxiliary machinery used for any of the following:

  • propulsion
  • mooring
  • anchoring
  • cargo

Direct supervision means that the person being supervised is frequently within sight and hearing of the supervisor.

General supervision means that the person being supervised receives instruction and direction on tasks, and recurrent personal contact from the supervisor, but is not frequently attended by the supervisor.

To download Marine Order 505 click on this link Marine order 505—Certificates of competency—national law (

There are transitional arrangements for GPH’s, you can read these by clicking on the link below.

Transitional arrangements for General Purpose Hand (

In summary if you can provide direct supervision to your deckhand or deckhands they do not need to hold a GPH certificate.

If they have a GPH certificate they still must be supervised under the General Supervision rule.

We would be more than happy to hear your response to these changes. Please email your comments to as he is keen to hear them.


Our only recommendation is consider your operations and how the requirements for deckhands to hold a GPH certificate and how it impacts on you both operationally and financially.

You then have to determine if your operations allow you to provide direct supervision or if you are going to require deckhands to hold a GPH certificate.


If you need help with any of the new laws please contact our office as these changes can have a major impact on your business both operationally and financially.

Don’t let this happen to you!

This newsletter is to remind you that just having a safety management system in place may not be the protection you thought it provided.

An incident in 2020 which left an employee with hip and foot fractures resulted in a not-for-profit organisation being fined $30,000.

The organisation was found guilty under sections 19(1) and 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for failing its primary health and safety duty and that failure exposed an individual to a risk of death or serious injury.

At the time, the organisation had a warehouse where paid employees and unpaid volunteers worked.

A paid worker was operating a forklift to move goods between the warehouse building and vehicles in the loading zone. Contrary to the defendant’s work instruction, a volunteer entered the loading zone to take a break.

The worker drove the forklift into the loading zone and didn’t see the other man who was standing near a truck and a stack of pallets. The forklift ran into the volunteer who suffered fractures to his right pelvis and foot that required hospital treatment.

The court heard the organisation failed to adequately ensure workers complied with its policies and procedures for eliminating or minimising the potential for contact between pedestrians and moving plant.

Workers had not been sufficiently trained, and there was no system to enforce, its work instruction prohibiting pedestrians from being in a loading zone at the front of the warehouse.

The organisation’s work instruction prohibited pedestrian workers from entering or remaining in the loading zone.

The organisations failure to ensure compliance with its work instruction was a failure of its health and safety duty. That failure exposed workers to the risk of death or serious injury from contact with moving plant.

In sentencing, the Acting Magistrate noted there was a high onus on duty-holders under the Act for good reason, given the potential for injury and death when duties are not complied with.

Even though the defendant was a non-profit charitable organisation that functions for community benefit, his Honour recognised its non-compliance with work health and safety obligations justified a need to convey a deterrent message.

His Honour noted the organisation had relevant procedures in place, including an induction process, but agreed with the prosecution’s submission that the incident was indicative of erosion in the defendant’s enforcement of those procedures.

His Honour remarked there was an element of complacency that ultimately led to the materialisation of the risk.

The organisation was fined $30,000, plus costs of almost $1600. No conviction was recorded.

This incident, subsequent investigations and legal proceedings and outcomes are another harsh reminder all business’s, including charitable organisations have an obligation to always keep their workers and volunteers safe.

Shorlink Recommendation

Our best recommendation is to always ensure your safety management system is in place and up to date with current requirements at all times, including policies and procedures.

A failure to do so may see you in the same position as the organisation noted in this newsletter!


Best tip, BE COMPLIANT and make sure every facet of your SMS is correct and up-to-date.  Not sure? You only need to contact us!

Welcome to 2023, a year filled with great potential following on from the pandemic!


Start the New Year on the right foot.

Housekeeping is required!


To help, we’ve included a few items to ensure you stay on top of things that often get overlooked.


1. Safety Management Systems (SMS)

To ensure you remain complaint your SMS needs to be up to date with the latest MO504 requirements including being reviewed every year.

As the maritime industry becomes more busy, AMSA can and will increase inspections.  Don’t be one of the many who are complacent about ensuring it is up-to-date AND reviewed every year.

2. Training

Is a vital part of not only being compliant but protecting both your crew and vessels.

Just thinking about it is not enough, you must undertake regular training (drills) to ensure your crew can deal with onboard emergencies safely and efficiently.

Properly recording all drills is a vital part of demonstrating compliance.

In 2022, Shorlink saw over 200% increase in our training course bookings.  We have ensured all of our training sessions meet every clients needs and budget.  Also, we believe we are only of the very few, that understand ‘onboard the actual vessel’ training is vital.

Our training courses can be Found Here!

3. Log Books

Are a vital part in the compliance chain to ensure all required information is recorded properly.

If you haven’t heard yet, (where have you been?) Shorlink provides a range of log books that our clients absolutely love in their business’.  That’s because our Log Books were designed and used by maritime members.

Combined with this, Wayne’s vast knowledge means our log books ONLY include what is needed and required.  You won’t find any useless pages in our books.

We can even customise a log book to suit your specific requirements.

To view our range of log books Click Here (with free postage)

4. Master (Skippers)

So, last year, we created a quick check list designed primarily for recreational boaters but is also a handy guide for commercial operators that we sent out to our database!

What incredible feedback we received! The checklist just ensures that all the boxes are ticked, literally, and provides peace of mind for your time on the water.

Want a free copy? Just drop us a quick email at


At Shorlink, we wish you all the very best for the upcoming year and remember…

…we’re here for your safety so don’t hesitate to contact our office by:

p: 07 4242 1412    e:    w:

Shorlink Recommendations

Number one recommendation for 2023 is to ensure you are compliant with all regulatory requirements and at all times stay compliant!

Note that both AMSA and WHS have become and will continue to be more active in vessel/workplace inspections and particularly incident investigations.


Top tip is if you are unsure about any of the items in this newsletter, please don’t panic – just contact our office!

Over the years, most common work-related injuries and fatality rates have decreased thanks to an increase in workplace health and safety measures. But there is still a lot of work to do to get that number down to zero.

The most common work injuries are slips, trips, and falls, overexertion, and contact with equipment. All of these injuries are mostly preventable by taking the proper precautions and adhering to workplace procedures. In this article, we’ll look at the most common work-related injuries and provide some helpful guidelines on how to prevent them.

If you are currently experiencing any type of workplace injury, do not wait to seek medical attention. Even if it seems small, injuries due to falls, overexertion, burns, etc. can progress over time and cause serious complications later on.

The 7 most common workplace injuries

  1. Slips, trips, and falls

Slips, trips, and falls are some of the most common types of workplace injuries and are the top reason for worker’s compensation claims. This includes workers who:

  • Slipped on an icy, oily, or wet floor
  • Tripped due to unprotected sides or holes, poor lighting, or clutter
  • Fell off ladders, roofs, cabin tops, etc.

These types of injuries can be prevented by being aware of your surroundings and by following the operational procedure for Working at Heights

  1. Overexertion and muscle strains

Overexertion injuries like muscle strains and repetitive strain injuries (RSI) can cause long-term debilitating pain and lead to an overall loss in productivity. This type of occupational injury can be caused by:

  • Improper lifting technique
  • Manually lifting heavy objects
  • Repetitive work with no breaks
  • Jumping to another level
  • A collapsing structure
  • Lifting, pushing, carrying, or throwing
  • Microtasks on a factory line
  • Typing or moving a mouse without good ergonomics

To prevent overexertion and muscle strains you should always be following an operational procedure for Manual Handling. Remember, if it’s too heavy ask someone else to help you or use a lifting device or forklift.

To avoid overexertion and reduce your risk for lasting physical harm, ensure you take frequent breaks and that you are using that time to rest and stretch

Untreated injuries can progress over time, causing you more issues down the road.

  1. Struck by workers, equipment, or falling objects

We’ve all walked into the sharp edge of a counter or turned into a wall, but when you’re working in a high-risk industry, these injuries can be far more serious. These types of injuries can include severe hand injuries, severed limbs or fingers, traumatic head injuries, stress fractures or full bone breaks, blindness, and more.

Workplace injuries of this nature are commonly caused by:

  • Poorly guarded machinery
  • Falling tools, debris, or materials
  • A part of the worker’s body being caught in a winch, wire or gears
  • Dropped loads
  • Pressure between the person and the source of the injury
  • The tipping over of heavy equipment
  • Excessive vibration
  • Bumping into an object or equipment
  • Being pushed into a hard surface of any kind
  • Walking into walls or machinery

Thankfully, many of these accidents can be prevented by staying aware of your surroundings, following established policies and procedures, using the proper personal protective equipment (PPE), avoiding loose clothing, and putting away unnecessary hazards.

What happened to the Master: Do you know?

  1. Crashes or collisions

Whether you’re driving a motor vehicle, including forklifts or are working around them, you are at risk of getting hurt in a crash or collision. For example, if you’re working on the ground in a warehouse, you could be hit or run over by a forklift.

Other instances resulting in a crash or collision could include:

  • Falling from a vehicle
  • Forklift roll-over
  • Getting stuck under an overturned vehicle
  • Large-truck drivers drinking and driving
  • Being struck by objects falling from a vehicle
  • Semi, tractor-trailer, and tanker truck crashes

When operating any type of motorised vehicle, ensure you are wearing your seat belt and taking the proper safety measures established by your employer.

Collision V Grounding DO you know the difference?

  1. Exposure to harmful substances or environments

Those who work in loud environments or around hazardous chemicals risk severe injuries to their ears, eyes, skin, and respiratory systems if they are exposed without proper protection.

Be sure to familiarise yourself with any chemical safety data sheets and wear proper ear protection, safety goggles, gloves, and any other required PPE when exposed to harmful substances or loud noises.

6. Fire and explosions

Fires and explosions can burn your body tissue, cause severe damage to your respiratory system, and potentially cause disfigurement. This type of workplace injury is not too common, but it does have the highest casualty rate depending on how close you are to the blast. Injuries for explosions are categorized into four types based on level of impact to your body:

  • Primary blast: injury caused by the blast wave unique to high order explosions
  • Secondary blast: injury due to flying objects or debris displaced by the blast wind
  • Tertiary blast: injury due to displacement through the air or a structure collapse
  • Quaternary blast: all other injuries including crush injuries, burns, radiation, and inhaling toxic substances

To avoid these types of injuries, ensure that you and your co-workers are following Operational procedures, wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE), and maintaining chemical safety data sheets for all chemicals.

  1. Violence and other injuries by persons or animals

As much as we’d like to think that fighting at work doesn’t exist, it does happens! Compounding stress and tension can result in an aggressive confrontation from an employee or customer, leading to harassment, intimidation, and even physical assault. Injury caused by animals can also be a concern for commercial fishers, foresters and individuals working on a farm or in other environments where animals, like dogs, are present.

One of the best ways for a worker to avoid workplace violence is to set a zero-tolerance policy covering all individuals who come in contact with company personnel. When working with animals, you can reduce injury by wearing the proper attire, following guidelines set by your employer, and staying alert at all times.

Common causes of work-related fatalities

The “fatal four” work-related fatalities leading to death include:

  • Being struck by a moving vehicle or object / motor vehicle crashes
  • Slips, trips, and falls from tall heights
  • Electrocutions
  • Getting caught in or between machines, devices, or tools

Although you cannot control when an accident occurs, there are steps you can take to reduce work-related injuries and help keep yourself safe.

If you feel or suspect that the safety of yourself or others are at risk, never hesitate to report it to your company.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We strongly recommend you review your operational procedures in relation to all tasks undertaken on your vessel or in your workplace. Ensure they are clear, conscience and easy to follow.

Secondly it’s vital that you review your emergency procedures relative to your operations to ensure your workers know what to do in the event of an emergency.

Remember, keeping your procedures up to date is a legal requirement under the Work Health and Safety Act and associated Regulations.


While keeping your procedures up to date is great if workers have not been inducted into procedures relevant to their assigned tasks they are all but useless!

Ensure you induct all workers into procedures relevant to their operations and the best tip we can give you is to have a sign off page for all procedures and have each worker sign off them.


Drowning doesn’t mean flailing arms and calling for help.


 Knowing these silent signs of drowning can mean the difference between life and death.


 This newsletter is not only for those at sea but is critical knowledge for anyone around water anywhere!


If two or more people are in the water, which one do you rescue first?

Unfortunately, the fact is that often those watching don’t know what to look for because drowning doesn’t look like drowning.

Do you go first to the person waving their arms and yelling or to the one who is quiet and not waving and yelling?

In most cases you’re going to the person who is NOT waving and yelling!

Read on to discover what you need to look for….


To ward off a tragedy in the making, watch for these 8 signs that someone is in trouble!


  1. They can’t call for help
    They have to be able to breathe before they can speak. When a person is drowning, their mouth sinks below and reappears above the surface of the water. There isn’t time for them to exhale, inhale, and call out.

  1. They can’t wave for help either.
    A drowning person instinctively extends their arms to the sides and presses down to lift their mouth out of the water; a child may extend their arms forward. They can’t use their arms to wave, move toward a rescuer or reach for rescue equipment.
  1. They remain upright in the water with no evidence of kicking. They can struggle for only 20 to 60 seconds before going under.
  1. Their eyes are glassy and unable to focus or closed.
  1. Their face may be hard to see as their hair may be over their forehead or eyes.
  1. Their Head is low in the water with their mouth at water level and their head may be tilted back with mouth open. A child’s head may fall forward.
  1. They are quiet.
    Children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you need to get to them and find out why.
  1. They don’t seem in distress.
    Sometimes the most important indicator that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they are drowning. They may just seem to be looking up at the sky, shore or the vessel. Ask them, “Are you all right?” If they can answer at all, they probably are BUT if they return a blank stare, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We strongly recommend you and your crew and/or workers if they work around water, know the 8 quite signs of a person drowning AND have up to date CPR training.

By simply knowing these signs allows you to understand the difference between someone who needs immediate help and another who may be able to survive a little longer when there are 2 or more persons in the water.


When someone is in the water throw anything that floats towards them to help support them until you can rescue them. If there’s a lifebuoy close at hand throw it towards them.

Remember you don’t want this to be the last thing you see of the victim!

Whilst it is worth initially noting that whilst every vessel is different and built with different materials, maintenance is an extremely important part of the running of your vessel.

While a critical safety factor, maintenance related issues do not always receive the attention they deserve. Maintenance issues are often difficult to detect and not generally linked to safety and therefore are not recorded.

The Importance of Maintenance

Maintenance ensures that a vessel, engine, etc. continues to perform its intended function as per its design in relation to the level of safety and reliability.

Examples of issues that could lead to technical failure include:

  • unsuitable modification to parts
  • omission of maintenance checks
  • incomplete installations
  • a fault not being isolated
  • missing equipment.

While many maintenance-related errors seem inconsequential, they have the potential to remain dormant and can affect the safe operation of a vessel over time.

How often do I need to complete maintenance checks?

Programmed maintenance of vessel and its equipment should be undertaken in accordance with the schedules specified in your SMS Manual. To ensure the safety and efficiency, inspections should be carried out prior to departure and at monthly and annually intervals at a minimum.

Where lapses have occurred in undertaking repairs and/or maintenance these are to be recorded in either the SMS or the Maintenance Log. The owner or Master is responsible for corrective actions to be undertaken within the timeframe specified in the vessels SMS.

Consideration may be given to the severity, nature and potential impact of any repairs or defects in relation to the corrective action required. Where there is no potential impact on the safety of the vessel, persons onboard, other vessels and the environment – the time required may be extended accordingly. Any extension in times should be recorded in the vessels Log Book.

The Master is responsible for ensuring all machinery, equipment and other technical and electronic equipment is maintained and serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions at all times.

The maintaining of all inspection records is the either the Master or the Engineer if caried.

When and Where do I need to inspect?


These checks are to be in accordance with the vessels pre-departure check list.


 The following areas/items should be inspected at a minimum every month:

  • Hull, Deck & Superstructure
  • Machiney, Fuel and Steering Systems
  • Fire & Safety Equipment
  • Miscellaneous – such as anchors, chain, line, winch and signage etc


 The following areas/items should be inspected at least once a year:

  • Hull, Deck & Superstructure – External
  • Hull, Deck & Superstructure – Internal
  • General Arrangements including Internal structures, stairs and air dampeners
  • Anchors, Chain and Equipment
  • Machinery, Steering and Fuel Systems
  • Electrical Systems
  • Navigation Equipment
  • Safety Equipment
  • Fire systems and Equipment

Identifying, addressing and managing maintenance-related risks is an important part of your Safety Management System (SMS). The SMS must include a planned maintenance schedule as well as a pre-departure checklist. Planned maintenance should include regular checks, servicing, visual inspections and operational tests.

Recording maintenance

Equipment failures and vessel breakdowns can cause accidents, putting everyone on board in danger.

It is important to keep proper records of what maintenance has been done. This allows you to track when you are due for maintenance and helps prove you are proactive about the safety of your operation.

Another common question we’re getting is do I have to record all my maintenance? The answer is YES you need to record all your maintenance, both scheduled and non-scheduled.

Scheduled maintenance includes everything from oil changes to annual refits and everything in between.

Unscheduled maintenance is things like when you have to repair engines, gearboxes, refrigeration or anything else due to a breakdown or hull repairs to an incident, etc.

All of these things must be recorded in an appropriate manner. You can use a Maintenance Log Book like ours below or maintenance record forms in your SMS, in an electronic maintenance program or even in an Excel spreadsheet but…it must be recorded.

We have a number of clients using specially designed maintenance software programs while others are using either our Maintenance Log Books or ones they’ve developed.

The other question is do we have to keep the records onboard? Simple answer, NO. Again, a number of our clients use our Maintenance Log Book and keep it ashore as they have shore-based maintenance personnel.

Many of our smaller clients use the maintenance form we have in our SMS Manuals and store them in their SMS.

Others use our maintenance form and store them in the cloud enabling maintenance to be recorded and having it accessible to onboard crew and shore-based staff and/or owners.

No matter which method you choose it’s no use unless you ensure all maintenance is recorded when it’s done not a month later.

My crews would often say I was too annal in recording maintenance as I insisted in everything being recorded down to changing light globes which may sound a bit extreme.

The benefit of that was upon return from a trip they had changed light globes in one cabin 6 times during that trip. This indicated an electrical fault which had the potential to cause a fire!

You don’t have to go to that extreme but must always ensure maintenance relevant to the operation and safety of the vessel are recorded. This demonstrates to AMSA that you run a professional operation!

Shorlink’s Recommendation

First recommendation is to ensure you have a method of recording maintenance that suits your requirements, and all maintenance is recorded.

Second is to ensure your SMS has a maintenance schedule or program that outlines what you inspect and/or service and at what intervals, e.g., monthly, annually, etc.

For most of our clients we develop monthly and annual schedules while a few have monthly and biannual programmes in place. The bottom line is the schedule must suit your operations.

In our Maintenance Log Books and forms we include a column for the person undertaking the maintenance to sign of on it.


Our best tip is to record all maintenance, no matter how big or small it is. We recommend recording everything from the replacement of fuses and light globes to major component items such as engines, gearboxes, etc.

This provides a chronological account of all maintenance which gives you a detailed look at how the vessel is running and identifies any areas that may require special attention.

Click Here to view the Maintenance Log Book.  If you wish, you can order with free postage.

This is a very important question because over the last 12 months we’ve undertaken several Safety Audits both on vessels and in workplaces ashore and conducted multiple onboard training sessions where fire safety was compromised.

How does your fire safety stack up?

Here’s a short list of things we’ve discovered during our Safety Audits and training sessions:

  • Empty fire extinguishers
  • Fire extinguishers not serviced
  • In one case the engine room fire suppression system bottle was empty
  • Air shut offs not functioning. Often these had been painted over during refit
  • Air shut offs with damaged dampeners
  • In another case an air shut off that had a bolt from a fitting located in the vent pipe which prevented the dampener from closing
  • Inoperable fuel shut offs
  • In one case a fuel shut off that had to be accessed through a hole in the deck with a fitting that could not be removed
  • Fire hydrants and/or hoses in disrepair
  • A lack of knowledge on how to deal with a fire, even a minor one!

All of the above put the vessels at risk in the event of a fire onboard, especially in the engine room.

While the above list is based on vessels, many of the items are also relevant to workplaces such as factories, offices, etc.

Fire extinguishers that have been discharged or otherwise become inoperable should never be onboard or in the workplace, they must be serviced when due.

Check the gauge on a regular basis and if it is in the RECHARGE section, get it recharged immediately!

Do you have Dry Chemical extinguishers on your vessel in your workplace?

If yes, ensure you know what class they are as there are two classes for Dry Chemical extinguishers, these are:

ABE Type :

  • Class A Fires – paper, cardboard, wood, fabrics, people etc.
  • Class B Fires – flammable liquid fires, petrol, diesel, oil etc
  • Class E Fires – electrical fires, computers, photocopiers, switchboards etc

 BE Type:

  • Class B Fires – flammable liquid fires, petrol, diesel, oil etc
  • Class E Fires – electrical fires, computers, photocopiers, switchboards etc

Air shut offs that do not fully operate put your vessel at risk. You need to check them for full operation regularly, especially after a refit where painting has been undertaken.

The picture below was supplied by AMSA as an example of a damaged air dampener.

Fuel Shut offs: The location and operation of your fuel shut offs is also critical for your safety in the event of an engine room fire. These should also be checked regularly for effective operation.

The picture below is an example of a cable operated fuel shut off.

Fire hydrants and fire hoses are fitted on many vessels, but we’ve found ‘lay flats” hoses that were in disrepair, one that even feel apart when pulled out!

Shorlink’s Recommendation

For your safety and the safety of your crew, workers and/or clients and vessel or premises ensure you have a procedure in place and that you undertake regular drills.

Secondly, make sure all crew and workers can identify the classes of extinguishers and their specific uses.

Also, it’s critical to your safety that you undertake regular checks of ALL your fire fighting apparatus and equipment to ensure it works when required.


Best tip for Dry Chemical extinguishers is to turn them upside down and give them a little shake on a regular basis.

The reason for this is that the powder compacts on the bottom of the extinguisher and may not work efficiently or work at all.

While it’s sad but true, all of us are getting older and with age comes health problems for many but the big one, the silent killer is heart attack.

Over the last few years there has been a number of Masters suffering heart attacks while at sea and that can cause a serious problem for the vessel and all persons onboard.

It’s not just Masters, we’ve had mates, engineers, deckhands and even cooks and special staff go down with heart attacks.

Fortunately, most of those have recovered and many are still in the industry providing their valuable knowledge and experience to up and coming crew members.

It’s not the best topic but its one that needs to be addressed as it’s not just older people suffering heart attacks.

With today’s changing lifestyle many younger people are falling victim to heart attacks so it’s important that you not only know the signs but also how to deal with a person suffering from a heart attack.

You need to be able to answer these 2 key questions …

  1. Do you know the signs of a heart attack? and
  2. Do you know how to deal with a person suffering from a heart attack?

If you don’t know the answers to those questions you best find out now because not knowing can put lives at risk…one of which may be yours!

Knowing the signs


How can a silent heart attack be silent?

A silent heart attack is just like any other, and just as damaging. Your heart needs oxygen-rich blood to function.

If plaque (which consists of fat, cholesterol, and other substances) builds up in the arteries that carry blood to the heart, this blood flow can be significantly or completely cut off.

The longer your heart doesn’t have blood flow, the more damage that occurs. Because silent heart attacks may go unnoticed, they can cause a significant amount of damage and, without treatment, they can be deadly.

The good news is that you can prepare by knowing these 4 silent signs of a heart attack.

The 4 key signs of a silent heart attack


  1. Chest Pain, Pressure, Fullness, or Discomfort

Sometimes the pain from a heart attack is sudden and intense, which makes them easy to recognize and get help. But, what about when it’s not?

Most heart attacks actually involve only mild pain or discomfort in the centre of your chest. You may also feel pressure, squeezing, or fullness. These symptoms usually start slowly, and they may go away and come back.

This can be complicated because these symptoms may be related to something less serious, such as heartburn. You know your body best, though. If you feel like something is not right, you need to be evaluated by a doctor or even head to the emergency room.


  1. Discomfort in other areas of your body 

A heart attack doesn’t just affect your heart, you can actually feel the effects throughout your whole body. But this can make identifying a heart attack confusing.

You may experience pain or discomfort in your:

  • Arms (one or both of them)
  • Back
  • Neck
  • Jaw
  • Stomach

These symptoms can vary from person to person. For example, some people describe their back pain from a heart attack as feeling like a rope being tied around them.

You may also feel a heavy pressure on your back. Either way, if you think you’re experiencing any of these less obvious signs of a heart attack, don’t ignore them.


  1. Difficulty breathing and dizziness 

If you feel like you’ve just run a marathon, but you only walked up the stairs, that might be a sign your heart isn’t able to pump blood to the rest of your body. Shortness of breath can occur with or without chest pain, and it’s a common sign of a silent heart attack.

You may also feel dizzy or lightheaded — and it’s possible you could faint. Though this can happen to both men and women, it’s more common for women to experience shortness of breath.

If you’re having trouble with tasks that weren’t previously difficult make sure you get it checked out in case it’s a subtle sign of a heart attack.


  1. Nausea and cold sweats 

Waking up in a cold sweat, feeling nauseated, and vomiting may be symptoms of the flu, but they can also be signs of a silent heart attack.

You may know what the flu feels like because you’ve had it before, but when your gut is telling you that these flu-like symptoms are something more serious, LISTEN! Don’t chalk these symptoms up to the flu, stress, or simply feeling under the weather – they may be much more serious than that.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

We strongly recommend that you ensure not only the Master has current First Aid, including CPR but also at least one other person onboard has it as well.

It’s no good if only the Master has First Aid, and they are the one to suffer a heart attack!


Our number one tip is to have an Automated External defibrillator (AED) onboard for use in the event someone onboard suffers a heart attack.