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!

When undertaking recent audits on vessels it became clear that many Masters’ either forgot or didn’t know the full extent of their responsibilities.

While most, and I say most Master’s know how to operate the vessel many have not kept up to date with current requirements such as keeping log books, running drills, recording inductions and training, etc.

In this day and age is critical to ensure your paperwork is up to date at all times. Should an incident occur and its not recorded in the log book or reported (reportable incidents only) then you could be in big trouble.

Section 5 of Marine Order 504 states that the Master has a responsibility for ensuring that operational requirements are being complied with. Operational requirements is not just driving the vessel it includes but is not limited to the following:

  1. Complying with the organisations policies
  2. Implementing the vessels Safety Management System (SMS)
  3. Following all of the operational procedures and emergency procedures
  4. Inducting new crew members onto the vessel and the SMS
  5. Undertaking regular ongoing training (drills) to ensure all crew members are competent in dealing with emergency situations
  6. Recording all drills appropriately
  7. Maintaining the vessels Log Book
  8. Ensuring the vessel, machinery and equipment are operated properly and well maintained
  9. Identifying repairs and/or maintenance that needs to be addressed
  10. Ensuring maintenance records are maintained and up to date at all times
  11. Maintaining passenger records (passenger vessels only)
  12. Documenting and reporting marine incidents to AMSA


Vessels Deck Log Book

This is one of areas most neglected by many Masters and it’s the one area that can cause major issues if not completed properly. Section 11 in MO504 specifies that a log book must include details of the following:

  1. any illness or injury of persons onboard;
  2. any marine incident, other incident or accident involving the vessel or its equipment;
  3. any assistance rendered to another vessel;
  4. any unusual occurrence or incident;
  5. all communications and messages sent or received for an emergency;
  6. all passenger counts conducted for the vessel;
  7. any operation of the vessel for recreational purposes.

So many log books we’ve reviewed fall short on so many points.


Reporting Marine Incidents

This is another area that often gets overlooked which can have serious repercussions to both the Master and vessel owner.

There are two (2) forms that should be completed as soon as is reasonably practicable following the incident and these are:

  1. Incident alert (Form 18)

This form alerts AMSA that there has been a marine incident and can be filled in online but must be completed and submitted to by the owner or master as soon as reasonably practicable* after becoming aware of the incident.

Go to Form 18 by clicking on this link: amsa-18-incident-alert-form.pdf

  1. Incident Report (Form 19)

This form provides all the details about the incident, vessels involved and any injuries and must be completed by the owner or Master and submitted to within 72 hours of the incident. Go to Form 19 by clicking on this link amsa-19-incident-report-form.pdf

If you would like to find out more about marine incident reporting by clicking on the link below.

Marine incident reporting (

Marine pollution must also be reported. Find out more about pollution reporting by clicking on this link General marine pollution reporting (

If you employ crew, including Masters you should have your own specific requirements for your Master or Masters’ but there are legal responsibilities every Master must comply with.

The Master has the overriding authority and responsibility to make decisions with respect to safety and pollution prevention.

Note that means when operational and does not mean that the Master can make changes to policies and/or procedures without the approval of the owner. Also be aware that if changes are made they must be recorded in the appropriate manner.


Top recommendation is ensure you or your Masters’ know exactly what their responsibilities are and what’s expected of them. if you’re the Master it’s up to you to ensure you comply will all the current requirements.

If you’re a vessel owner and engage Masters’ then it is your responsibility to ensure all Masters’ know exactly what is expected of them and their requirements to ensure full compliance.


If you engage Masters’ under an agreement or contract of any kind you must ensure they are fully aware of the responsibilities and conditions in their contract. Too many Masters’ will sign a document without reading it first. Best tip is to help them out and go through it in detail with them. this can save a lot of potential problems down the road.

Need a Log Book? Click Here for our range of Log Books that were ‘designed by a mariner for a mariner’ with Free Postage!

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!

Here we are again, our last Newsletter for 2022 and we find ourselves at the end of another year.  All I can say it’s been a hell of a year not only for the maritime sector but also industry in general.

It’s good to see that tourism is back to pre-pandemic or better booking levels. During our travels we’ve observed many happy passengers undertaking voyages of all sorts.

During the year we’ve been focused on expanding our onboard induction and training services which is an initiative we started years ago. Owners and operators are starting to realise the benefits of having an external provider undertake “vessel specific” crew inductions and emergency response training.

We have been receiving great feedback on our training services including many participants saying they get more from our onboard training then they get from other sources!

While it’s been a good year it’s not been without obstacles to overcome including, like many business’, staffing which has caused many headaches.

As the Managing Director I have been focused on expanding the company to cover not only commercial operators but also the recreational sector.

Although it’s been my focus, I have to give full credit to our wonderful administration officer, Tracey McManus who continues to take a huge load off my shoulders and has helped Shorlink grow in all facets. (Thanks Wayne :) )

Our overall business focus has been on our services, in particular our managed services which have received a great industry response. Need to know more about our managed services simply contact our office today and we’ll email out an information pack.

What does 2023 look like for Shorlink and the maritime industry in general?

For Shorlink we’re moving into an exciting time of business growth by expanding not only our management and training services but also our Occupational Health and Safety systems for maritime based businesses.

I think it’s also going to be a good year for the maritime industry in general with tourism growing. In talking with a number of our clients they are excited with the growing numbers of bookings.

It’s also good news for the commercial fishing industry with restaurants getting back to normal the demand for fresh seafood is on the rise which is great news for the industry in general.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

My recommendation is to put the past few years behind you, look forward to 2023 and get going! While things are back to the ‘new normal’ I strongly recommend taking a close look at your business or operations to see where and how you can better adapt to the ongoing and the ever-changing business climate.

While there’s been a lot of heartache for many, there is a lot of opportunities for those who are prepared to adapt so…go forward and prosper!

Many people thought COVID was behind us, but the reality is it’s here to stay for some time so it’s a good idea to have a COVID safe plan in place to ensure your business survives. Additionally, a Continuity Plan is also highly recommended. We can assist with both so please feel free to contact our office for a chat.


My top tip is to ensure your safety management systems comply with MO504 for commercial vessels and Work Health and Safety for shore based operations.

It’s critical nowadays to ensure they are up to date to protect you in the event of an incident or both AMSA and WorkSafe are going to be very active in the new year.

Hot work is any work that has the potential to ignite nearby combustible, flammable or explosive material.

Hot Works. Are you undertaking them correctly.

Common hot work tasks include:

  • Grinding
  • Welding
  • Thermal or oxygen cutting
  • Other related heat-producing or spark producing operations

Hot work potential hazards:

  • Fire: caused by heat, molten metal, sparks or direct contact with cutting or welding flames.
  • Explosions: caused by the presence of gas, liquid vapours or suspended flammable dust.
  • Toxic fumes: generated directly from the hot work process or through heat decomposition of nearby material(s).
  • Burns

These hazards create a serious risk to workers health and safety that can lead to injury, illness and death.

For example, burns from heat radiation or contact with flames, sparks, molten metal or hot surfaces, and exposure to hazardous fumes.

Hot work processes have the potential to ignite fires that can travel beyond site boundaries. Fires may also start well after the completion of any hot work activities due to residual heat.

The Australian Standard AS/NZS 1674.1:1997 – Safety in welding and allied processes Part 1: Fire Precautions may be of benefit when identifying and controlling risks.

Worker competencies

Any worker undertaking hot work must:

  • Hold the welding qualification relevant to the task being performed; and
  • Grinders, thermal or oxygen cutting or heating equipment, or other related heat-producing or spark-producing equipment must only be operated by workers who are experienced and competent in using the equipment.

Hot Work Permits

Where hot work is to be undertaken in an area other than a designated hot work zone a Hot Work Permit is to be completed. The Hot Work Permit is divided into four (4) sections:

  • Details of hot work
  • Risk controls to be implemented
  • Verification of risk controls
  • Completion of work

Designated hot work zones

A designated hot work zone may be established and authorised by the relevant manager. A hot work permit is not required to undertake hot work in a designated hot work zone.

In order for an area to be designated a hot work zone a risk assessment must be documented, and the outcomes of the risk assessment documented and retained.

Hot works in hazardous areas

A hazardous area is an area in which a flammable atmosphere is or may be expected to be present. Hot work in hazardous areas requires special precautions to be implemented before it can be undertaken.

Before undertaking hot work in a hazardous area, a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) must be developed to specify how the work will be undertaken and the risk controls that will be implemented.

General hot work safety

When undertaking any hot work, the following safety requirements must be meet:

  • Identify the scope of work and the potential hazards; e.g., flammable atmospheres or generation of toxic fumes, etc.
  • Monitor the atmosphere by undertaking atmospheric testing for flammable gasses before and during hot works, even in areas where a flammable atmosphere is not anticipated
  • Check for hidden voids or compartments that may share the same airspace. These areas may be a hidden source of flammable vapours
  • Ensure all areas are free of flammable and/or potential flammable vapours
  • Ventilate, clean or ensure the vapours and/or gasses have been made inert in the space before undertaking any hot work that when heated may create an explosive atmosphere
  • Ensure safe work practices are followed when undertaking hot work
  • Ensure hot work permits are obtained where necessary.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Number one recommendation is to ensure any person undertaking hot work has the appropriate qualifications for the work they are undertaking.

Secondly ensure a Hot Work Permit is in place prior to the start of any hot works where required and thirdly ensure all safety precautions are in place.


If undertaking hot work onboard a vessel or in a workplace where the work is carried out in the same location and is not a designated hot work zone you can develop a generic Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) which will cover your operations. This saves you from having to do a JSA every time!

If you operate any charter vessel that includes recreational snorkelling as part of the activities you must ensure you have an appropriate procedure in place. Failure to have a recreational snorkelling procedure in place leaves you wide open to serious litigation in the event of an incident,

Recreational snorkelling – Do you know the rules?

While recreational snorkelling is a fun and a great experience it also has many dangers associated with it. Dangers that can and have resulted in minor injuries through to loss of life.

The good news is there is a Code of Practice in place which is the Recreational Diving, Recreational Technical Diving and Snorkelling Code of Practice 2018.

Section 4 Control measures for recreational snorkelling covers off on all the factors that must be taken into account when undertaking recreational diving operations.

The key points are:

  • Assessing snorkellers
  • Medical fitness
  • Control measures for at risk snorkelers
  • Supervision of snorkelers in open water
  • Appropriate skills and knowledge
  • Instruction and advice to non-English speaking persons
  • Equipment for snorkelling

You must ensure you cover all of the above and how you are going to achieve them, i.e how are you going to assess snorkelers and their medical fitness, do they need floatation devices, etc.?

You must also undertake a snorkelling risk assessment which is to be prepared by the snorkelling supervisor and should include:

  • Currents
  • Weather
  • Surface conditions
  • visibility

in addition you must specify the number and location of supervisory personnel taking into account:

  • the size, type and location of the snorkelling site
  • environmental conditions
  • number of people snorkelling in the water
  • ability of snorkellers
  • skills and abilities of supervisory personnel
  • type and effectiveness of rescue and communications equipment.

While all of this may sound like a lot it’s critical information to keep your clients and workers safe and minimise the potential for something to go wrong!

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our number one recommendation is to ensure you have a procedure in place for recreational diving and that all the necessary equipment, both snorkeling and rescue items are in place and in good condition.

Secondly make sure you have a rescue plan in the event a snorkeler or snorkelers get into trouble, especially children.


Make the effort to check your safety and rescue equipment every day before undertaking any diving activities. You don’t want to be in a situation where your faced with an emergency and the rescue equipment fails!

The disposal of all garbage into the sea from vessels is prohibited, except in some limited circumstances.

Under MARPOL Annex V, garbage includes all kinds of food waste, domestic waste and operational waste, all plastics, cargo residues, incinerator ashes, cooking oil, fishing gear, and animal carcasses generated during the normal operation of the vessel.

Garbage Discharges. Do you know the requirements?

Food wastes

While the vessel is en-route, food wastes that have been ground and capable of passing through a screen with openings no greater than 25mm, can only be discharged 3nm or more from the nearest land.

Garbage Discharges. Do you know the requirements?

Food waste not ground can only be discharged 12 nautical miles or more from the nearest land. Vessels operating alongside or within 500mtrs of a fixed and floating platform cannot discharge food waste, except under very limited circumstances.

Additional requirements are in place for vessels operating in MARPOL Special Areas and Polar Regions. Refer to MARPOL for more information, noting that there are currently no Annex V Special Areas designated around the Australian mainland. There is, however, an extended ‘nearest land’ boundary around the Great Barrier Reef area.

Cargo residues

Cargo residues may be left over after loading or unloading. Cargo residues classified as Harmful to the Marine Environment (HME), cannot be discharged into the sea, except under very limited circumstances. Such waste must be discharged to an onshore waste reception facility.

Cargo residues not classified as HME can be discharged into the sea provided that the vessel is en-route, and the discharge occurs as far as practicable from the nearest land, but not less than 12 nautical miles from the nearest land.

Cleaning agents or additives contained in holds, deck and external surfaces wash water can be discharged into the sea, provided that they are not classified as HME.

For cleaning agents and additives, HME substances are those that are identified as marine pollutants in the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code, or which meet the criteria in the Appendix of MARPOL Annex III (harmful substances). These criteria can be found in the 2017 Guidelines.

Animal carcasses

Animal carcasses may only be discharged into the sea when:

  • the vessel is not in a MARPOL designated special area;
  • the vessel is en-route, and the discharge is as far as possible from the nearest land;
  • the carcass has been slit or cut so that its thoracic and abdominal cavities are opened or passed through a comminuter, grinder, hogger, mincer or similar equipment; and
  • the discharge is undertaken in accordance with section 2.12 of the 2017 Guidelines.

Mixed garbage

When different types of garbage are combined or contaminated by other substances that are prohibited from discharge, the more stringent discharge requirements will apply.

Garbage management

AMSA requires that larger vessels manage, and record waste generated on board the vessel, including discharges.

Garbage Management Plans

Under MARPOL Annex V every vessel of 100 gross tonnage and above, and every vessel certified to carry 15 or more persons, is required to carry a Garbage Management Plan. The Garbage Management Plan contains procedures for collecting, storing, processing and the discharge of garbage, including the use of equipment onboard.

Garbage Record Books

Under MARPOL Annex V every vessel of 400 gross tonnage and above, and every vessel certified to carry 15 or more persons engaged in international voyages, is required to maintain and retain onboard a Garbage Record Book.

Fishing vessel operators must record the discharge or loss of fishing gear in the Garbage Record Book or the vessel’s official logbook.

The Garbage Record Books are divided into Part I and Part II. Part I is used by all vessels, but Part II is only required for vessels that carry solid bulk cargoes.

Part I covers discharges of:

  1. Plastics
  2. Food wastes
  3. Domestic wastes
  4. Cooking oil
  5. Incinerator ashes
  6. Operational wastes
  7. Animal carcass(es)
  8. Fishing gear
  9. E-waste

Part II covers discharges of:

  1. Cargo residues (non-Harmful to the Marine Environment)
  2. Cargo residues (Harmful to the Marine Environment).


All vessels of 12 metres or more in length are required to display placards that notify the crew and passengers of the MARPOL garbage discharge requirements for that vessel under MARPOL.

The placards should be placed in prominent places onboard the vessel where the crew and passengers will see them to inform how they can manage their waste (e.g., galley spaces, wheelhouse, main deck and passenger accommodation).

Garbage Placards can be obtained from any AMSA office or by submitting a request to AMSA through the AMSA website.

Reception facilities

Australia is required under MARPOL to ensure that adequate reception facilities are available in ports and terminals to meet the needs of the vessels regularly using them, including the reception of all waste streams generated on board a vessel during normal operations.

Further information on arranging for waste reception, reporting inadequacies of facilities, and best practice regarding the provision of waste reception facilities in Australia can be found on AMSA’s Waste reception facilities in Australian ports webpage.


Exceptions to the prohibition of garbage discharge under MARPOL Annex V are:

General garbage

  • The discharge of garbage from a vessel is necessary to secure the safety of a vessel and those on board, or saving a life at sea;
  • The accidental loss of garbage resulting from damage to a vessel or its equipment, provided that all reasonable precautions have been taken before and after the occurrence of the damage, to prevent or minimise the accidental loss;

Fishing gear

  • The accidental loss of fishing gear from a vessel provided that all reasonable precautions have been taken to prevent such loss; or
  • The discharge of fishing gear from a vessel for the protection of the marine environment or for the safety of that vessel or its crew.

When the loss or discharge of fishing gear, such as nets, long lines, fish traps or any human-made contraptions designed to catch fish, cannot be reasonably retrieved, and poses a significant threat to the marine environment and navigation, the fishing vessel operator is required to report the approximate position and reasons for the loss to the nearest port authority or the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra (on 1800 641 792).

This allows AMSA to broadcast Maritime Safety Information (MSI) if there is a significant risk to navigation. The loss must still be recorded in the garbage record book, as above.

It is recommended that state/NT and port authorities are consulted on any local regulations that may apply in specific circumstances.


There are substantial penalties for MARPOL breaches in the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Vessels) Act 1983, including the power to detain vessels.  A detention requires the owner to post an undertaking of considerable financial security.

Guidelines for the Implementation of MARPOL Annex V

The 2017 Guidelines for the Implementation of MARPOL Annex V (Resolution MEPC.295(71)), as amended, (2017 Guidelines) were developed to assist vessel owners, vessel operators, vessels’ crews, cargo owners and equipment manufacturers in complying with certain requirements set out in Annex V of MARPOL. This includes the management of cargo residues, cleaning agents or additives, and the treatment of animal carcasses.

The 2017 Guidelines also provide information on all aspects of garbage management, such as waste minimisation, vessel board garbage handling and storage, vessel board treatment of garbage (e.g., grinding or comminution, compaction and incineration).

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Where required we recommend that you have a Garbage Record book to record the relevant information or record it in the vessels Log Book.

In today’s world ensuring you maintain the appropriate records is paramount!


Use sealable bags to store garbage onboard and dispose of all garbage in the appropriate receptacles ashore.

It’s also a good tip to separate recyclable items from general garbage and place them in the appropriate recycling bins ashore.

A common mistake we often see when reviewing or auditing SMS manual is the grouping of procedures, in particular emergency procedures.

The most common one we see is the grouping together of collision and grounding which sometimes often includes flooding! Let’s look at them individually.


Collisions are when a vessel comes into contact with:

  • Another vessel
  • Navigational aids including beacons, poles and markers
  • A wharf, pontoon or other structure
  • An oyster lease or other aquaculture facility
  • A marine creature such a whale, etc.

Collision V Grounding DO you know the difference?

A collision can best be described as hitting or colliding with a solid object such as another vessel, navigational aid, infrastructure or a marine creature!

Collisions, in the most part are avoidable by ensuring a proper lookout is maintained at all times when underway and at anchor!

Underway means when not secured to a marina or pole berth, mooring or at anchor. You are underway even if you not secured to any of the items above and do not have your motor running!


A grounding can be described as a vessel coming into contact with:

  • the mainland
  • an island
  • coral reef
  • sand or mud bank.

Collision V Grounding

A grounding can be described as running into a land mass, reef or sand or mud bank!

Groundings as with collisions are avoidable when a proper lookout is maintained in conjunction with good navigational practice.

Good navigational practice means either local knowledge or consulting the chart for the area where you are operating.

By consulting the chart, you will be able to identify all areas where potential grounding may occur and avoid the embarrassment of being left high and dry.

So now I hope you can differentiate between a collision and a grounding and realise that there a two separate procedures required.

The other interesting thing is we often see flooding grouped with collision and grounding. While flooding can occur in either of these  incidents it is again a separate procedure and should not be grouped together with other procedures.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We recommend you check your SMS to ensure that collision and grounding (and flooding) are not grouped together in one procedure. If they are you need to separate them and develop individual collision and grounding procedures.


When developing a grounding procedure, we recommend you take into account the seabed structures in your areas of operations and reference how you re-float your vessel.

Ensure you are familiar with the areas you operate in including local sea life, navigational aids, infrastructure, land masses, reefs and shallow water areas.

As a commercial operator we’ve all had to deal with vessel inspections by marine agencies including AMSA, Fisheries and the Water Police.

While on most occasions you get through them without too much hassle there are times when we wonder what the hell some of these officers are talking about.

I think most of us have gotten disturbed at times and even downright angry at some of the things we get thrown at us.

I can say that in most cases the officers are not displaying any form of prejudice against you as a person. Unfortunately, I have to admit to being witness to an officer going out of his way to make life hard for an operator they believed should not be on the water!

Ordinary situations can be hard enough but when you have to deal with that sort of behaviour, its hard to keep your calm.

What’s important to remember is that the person undertaking the inspection is only doing their job and they are only human after all!

One of the biggest issues to deal with is consistency. What we’ve seen happen is an inspection being undertaken in one port and being given the “all good” then going to another port only to be told all these things are wrong.

The worst one is with SMS manuals, where officers out their twist on what they think should be in your SMS.

AMSA have an SMS Assessment check list that lays out what they need to ensure is in your SMS. That’s what they should be sticking too!

So… how do we deal with onboard inspections?   

Dealing with onboard inspections at any time can cause stress, especially when you feel things are not going so well, so below I’ve listed how I recommend ALL Owners, Masters and Crew Members to respond.

During an onboard inspection I always recommend all persons involved to remain calm and respect the officers conducting the inspection, even if you disagree with their decisions.

Actions and reactions

  • Keep calm at all times
  • Don’t blow your stack no matter what
  • If you disagree with something ask them for an explanation
  • If something is found to be non-compliant or unsafe ask to be shown what it is and have them explain to you if you’re uncertain
  • If you feel the officer has been unjust or wrong in some way don’t argue about it. Let them know your concerns and ask for clarification
  • If you’re issued with a Report of Inspection with defects listed, make sure you have anything you don’t understand explained to you
  • Being issued with an order to return to port or tying up the vessel up for any reason accept it, don’t argue with the officer and follow the direction then deal with whatever was the cause
  • If you feel any decision is wrong, first follow the instructions then you can report it to AMSA but ensure you are clear about the issue have all the facts together to support your case. Be clear and concise!
  • In relation to SMS Manuals be aware that officers are viewing them to ensure they have all the required information relevant to your vessel and its operations. They are not meant to go through procedures and issue instructions about them. They may make suggestions but remember for DCV’s there is no actual approval system in place.

If you follow the above your onboard inspections will go much easier, no matter what the outcome is!

Shorlink’s Recommendation

My number one recommendation is to follow the guideline above but if you feel there is a problem with any notices given during an inspection the I strongly recommend you contact our office for advice immediately.

We have the experience and knowledge in dealing with these matters and can make life easier for you. If you have an inspection scheduled and would like assistance in dealing with it then you can arrange for us to be onboard during the inspection (based upon availability).


Safety Management Systems (SMS) are one of the biggest issues with vessel owners and operators at present due to AMSA’s increase monitoring of them.

For those who aren’t clients, my tip is to have us undertake a FREE assessment of your SMS so we can point you in the right direction. Feel free to send us a copy to and we would be happy to assess and advise!

If you’ve received a MO504 SMS Assessment and there are items listed as “not met” then our tip is to send them to us if you’re unsure about what’s required ASAP.

Ongoing training or drills as most people know them are vitally important to the safety of your vessel and all those onboard.

Many crew often say I’ve done a safety course before so I’m all good. Well, the truth is they are so far wrong it’s not remotely funny.

Ongoing training develops what we call “muscle memory” and that’s what’s imperative in dealing quickly, efficiently and safely with emergencies.

Simply put the more often you do something the easier it is to do it, without thinking when needed in an emergency.

When we do safety audits for new clients and see how most of them run drills we observe similar habits in all but a few.

What are these habits?

Let’s look at a fire drill in an accommodation space where the Master says we’ve got a fire lets deal with it. A deckhand grabs a fire extinguisher (sometimes) then pretends to put the fire out (hopefully). Great job…or is it?

While it’s a start it’s not covering off on all the “real life” situations including but not limited to:

  • did they raise the alarm
  • did they identify the source of the fire
  • did they identify what was burning
  • did they check for persons in the cabin
  • did they get the most appropriate fire extinguisher
  • did they have back up

All of the above are critical factors in safely and efficiently dealing with the situation.

An overview of how Shorlink runs drills.

Let’s look at the same situation, a fire in the accommodation area. When we run this scenario we incorporate multiple issues to make it more a “real life” situation. In addition to dealing with the fire we also put into this drill:

  • Initial dealing with a minor fire
  • Fire going from minor to major
  • Evacuation
  • Smoke
  • Injury (burns)
  • Assembly stations
  • Abandon ship

This situation represents a real life situation and not just a quick run through of a fire situation and incorporates 5 emergency situations as follows:

  • Fire
  • Evacuation
  • Injury
  • Assembly Stations
  • Abandon Ship

You can then record all 5 in your training log. Job done. Just do the same for all emergencies to cover off real life situations.

How often should drills be run?

Some operators have said that’s great we’ll do them once a year. Well, that sounds great but in reality it puts you in a dangerous position.

For example, you do a fire drill today and no further drills have been undertaken then 6 months latter there is a fire onboard that results in a serious injury to a crew member the question will be asked if the training period was adequate. The answer is NO it’s not adequate!

While there is now no set period for drills the onus is on you and/or the Master to ensure your crew have ongoing training in emergency response.

Wayne delivering flare training

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Ensure you conduct ongoing training (drills) at regular intervals of not more than 2 months is my recommendation. I prefer to see fire drills undertaken monthly and be focused on different areas of the vessel; e.g. engine room, galley, accommodation, etc.

We undertake inductions and initial training at the start of every season or on 2 separate occasions to ensure all existing and new crew are up to speed at all times. A simple cost effective means of ensuring you meet your requirements.

If you’re unsure about your ongoing training contact us and we can undertake a Safety Audit of your training and related documentation. Don’t wait until there’s a marine incident or an AMSA inspection!


Check your training documents to ensure they are up to date and comply with the requirements! If they are not them that means that you need to do some work to get your inductions and training up to date.

When you ask a Master or Skipper have they been doing drills they almost always say yes but I haven’t had time to do the paperwork. My response is they have not been done because the Master can’t prove it by producing the records.

My tip is to put them to work doing what they should be doing and do the inductions and training AND record them to ensure that when AMSA come onboard you have the documentation to show.

Log Books

Click Here for more information on our Crew Training Log Book