Marine Order 505

Table of contents

What you need to know

The new version of Marine Order 505 came into effect on January 1, 2023, and has caused some confusion with operators. It also links in with the new Marine Order 504 which we have covered in a previous article. So, here’s what you need to know about MO505.

All vessels that undertake long or extended voyages where the Master requires a crew member to stand a navigational watch, that crew member must hold the appropriate Certificate of Competency (COC).

What’s required for navigational watchkeepers?

  • For a vessel <24 meters: Coxswain Grade 1 NC in inshore waters
  • For a vessel <45 meters: Master <24 m NC
  • For a vessel <100 meters: Master <45 m NC / Master <24 m NC

What are Inshore Waters (Operations)?

Inshore waters or operations means operations of a vessel that are conducted laterally along the coast from either the base or a regular port of departure of the vessel that is within 15 nautical miles seaward from:

a) The baseline of any of the following:
i. The Australian mainland;
ii. The Tasmanian mainland;
iii. A recognised island; or
b) Sheltered water limits.

Without the above qualifications, no crew are allowed to stand a navigational watch unless they are under direct supervision which means the persons being supervised is frequently within sight and hearing of the supervisor. Note that a supervisor is a person holding the appropriate COC.

Can a General Purpose Hand (GPH) stand a navigational watch?

Where a person holds a General Purpose Hand NC (GPH) COC they may undertake a navigational watch provided they are under general supervision. 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.

It’s now a requirement for all deckhands to hold a GPH certificate by the end of 2023 if they are not under direct supervision.

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

To download Marine Order 505 click on this link: Marine Order 505 (Certificates of competency — national law) 2022 (

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our primary recommendation is consider your operations and how the requirements for navigational watchkeepers affects you. Secondly, consider whether deckhands should hold a GPH certificate taking into account both long term deckhands and those aboard for short trips (transitional movements).

In both cases, you need to consider how these new requirements impact 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.

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