Tag Archive for: Marine

Both revisions and your Annual Review are important things to ensure your SMS remains compliant with Marine Order 504 and covers off the legal aspect in the event of an incident.

Above: Sample of Shorlink’s Revision and Review Log page

Note that you can have a separate form for Revisions and Annual Reviews, but we put them together to make reviewing and auditing your SMS as simple as possible.

One of the first things that will be looked by the authorities following an incident is your SMS and in particular the Annual Review and to a lesser degree revisions. This is to ensure the manual has been reviewed and verified as required by MO504.

If your Annual Reviews are not up to date then technically your SMS is not compliant so be sure to take note of the contents of this newsletter and as always, if in doubt contact Shorlink for assistance.

So…lets look at each one individually.


Revisions may be undertaken at any time during the year and must be undertaken when…

  • Any changes to or additional operations have been included
  • There are any changes to a procedure
  • A better way of undertaking a procedure has been identified
  • Any changes to the vessel or machinery are undertaken
  • Any changes to owner’s or emergency contact details
  • Any changes to the DP have occurred
  • Anything else in relation to the vessel, its operations

It’s a requirement that when a revision has been undertaken it must be recorded in an appropriate manner.

Don’t simply change a procedure or any other information and fail to record it because a failure to record it leaves your SMS non-compliant. It also puts you in a dangerous position should an incident occur.

When interviewed you’ll explain what you did and that may not align with the procedure that’s in your SMS that’s where the trouble starts.

So…make sure that if you undertake a revision of any part of your SMS you record it!

Annual Reviews

As the name implies, these are undertaken every year on the anniversary date of your SMS. Failure to undertake your Annual Review may leave you exposed if inspected by AMSA or any of their delegates in an incident.

Completing your Annual Reviews helps if your involved in an incident as it shows that you continually monitor your SMS and the operations onboard your vessel.

We have a set procedure for undertaking Annual Reviews that we recommend be followed to ensure you stay on top of your legal requirements.

I’ve developed this process over many years of dealing with quality systems in my factories and onboard vessels. It’s structured around the international requirements for conducting audits and if followed covers all the aspects required.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We recommend 2 key steps to ensure you remain compliant at all times:

  1. Whenever you make any changes to your SMS including contact names and details or procedures ensure you print out the pages with the changes, replace the old pages with the new ones and record the details in the review form.
  2. The same thing goes for your Annual Review, ensure you update the pages where changes have been made and record the details in the Annual Review form.


One very simple tip and that is to record the next due date of the Annual Review in your diary so as to ensure it gets done on time.

If you don’t already a form in place then I recommend you develop a specific form for this purpose to ensure all the required information is recorded.

Log Books

While not technically a log book our Revision & Review Log page is a critical part of your documentation and must be kept up to date. Like a free copy of our Revision & Review Log page then simply email us at sms@shorlink.com and we’ll email you your free Revision & Review Log page!

I’m often asked, “what triggers a marine investigation?” Before I answer that I think it’s wise to ensure all know what a marine incident is.

What is a Marine Incident?

Marine incidents are defined by relevant Australian laws and include a number of different types of incidents.

A marine incident may include the following:

  1. Death of, or injury to, a person associated with the operation or navigation of a vessel
  2. The loss or presumed loss of a vessel
  3. Collision of a vessel with another vessel
  4. Collision by a vessel with an object
  5. The grounding, sinking, flooding or capsizing of a vessel
  6. Fire on board a vessel
  7. Loss of stability of a vessel that affects the safety of the vessel
  8. The structural failure of a vessel
  9. A close quarters situation
  10. A dangerous occurrence, which is an occurrence that could have caused the death of, or serious personal injury to, any person on the vessel

It can also include:

  1. An event that results in, or could have resulted in:
    • the death of, or injury to, a person on board a vessel
    • the loss of a person from a vessel
    • a vessel becoming disabled and requiring assistance
  1. The fouling or damaging by a vessel of:
    • any pipeline or submarine cable
    • any aid to navigation
  2. Other incidents that are prescribed by the regulations include but are not limited to:
    • failure in operation of a component of material handling equipment, whether or not a person is injured because of the failure
    • loss of cargo of a vessel
    • significant damage to a vessel
    • a seafarer is injured or contracts an illness that incapacitates them from the performance of their duty
  3. Any serious danger to navigation on or near the course of the vessel

When to report a marine incident

There are 2 reports to be submitted as follows:

  1. Incident Alert: this is to be submitted as soon as is reasonably possible after the incident
  2. Incident Report: this must be submitted with 72 hours of the incident by the Master or owner of the vessel.

When AMSA investigates

AMSA will determine the appropriate response to each marine incident on a case-by-case basis. Whether or not an investigation occurs is determined by factors including:

  • Existence and extent of fatalities/serious injuries.
  • Anticipated safety value of an investigation, including the likelihood of improving the understanding of the scope and impact of any safety system failures.
  • Impact of the incident on the public, in particular the potential impact on public confidence in the safety of domestic commercial vessels.
  • Impact on the environment.
  • Likelihood of safety or regulatory action arising from the investigation.
  • Relevance to an identified or targeted safety or compliance program.
  • Timeliness of marine incident notification.
  • The need to deter the behaviour that led to the incident.
  • Resource availability.

In some cases, we may conduct a limited fact-finding investigation or no investigation at all.

Investigations are undertaken by AMSA staff who may utilise the services of compliance partners from another state, territory or Australian Government Agencies.

How do AMSA use investigation findings

We may use the findings from investigations to:

  • Inform our understanding of risk and the safety and compliance culture in the domestic commercial vessel industry.
  • Inform industry education and awareness programs, and changes to regulatory instruments or standards.
  • Add to our existing data for ongoing analysis.

Remember…if the investigation identifies that you are in the wrong then they will take the appropriate action in relation to the severity of the incident.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Number one recommendation is to avoid incidents where possible! We recognise that some incidents are just accidents and no matter how much you minimise the risk at times all risk cannot be removed.

We strongly recommend that you look carefully at your operation to ensure existing and potential risks are either eliminated or mitigated to a safe level.

The idea is that if you are involved in a marine incident you have a system and documentation behind you to identify that you have taken all precautions to ensure a safe operation.


If you are unsure about preparing an incident alert or a marine incident report contact our office on 07 4242 1412 and we can guide you through the process.

DO NOT at any time try to avoid submitting an incident report as there is always someone who witnessed the incident or was aware of it. By not submitting an incident report you are actually in breach of the law and may be subject to legal action.

Stability is something we all know something about or at least we should but many out there don’t seem to place enough emphasis on it.

Failing to think about stability has resulted in the loss of many vessel and sadly many crew members and passengers!

So…what are some of the factors affecting stability?

  • Loading of equipment, supplies and other items on upper cabin tops
  • Suspended weights (loads on cranes, trawl nets, etc.)
  • Loads on fishing gear
  • Free surface effect (all liquids in partially filled tanks have free surface
  • Water on the deck
  • Structural changes

Any of these things, and many others can and do impact on the stability of your vessel and in turn increases the potential for disaster.

Let’s look closer at each of these potential disaster causing situations

Loading of equipment, supplies and other items on upper cabin tops

So many people see the upper cabin (usually the wheelhouse) top as an ideal place to store all sorts of things, all of which add weight high up. This changes the vessels Centre of Gravity which, if too high makes the vessel unstable and can result in capsize!

Suspended weights

When a weight is lifted by a crane or derrick, the centre of gravity of the weight will be immediately transferred to the point the weight is suspended from (the head of the crane or the end of the derrick or boom). This occurs the instant the weight is lifted and from that point on the centre of gravity will not change further no matter how high the weight is lifted.

Loads on fishing gear

When towing trawls or other fishing gear, the force exerted by the tow will be felt at the point of suspension, as shown in diagram below. This is the equivalent of a weight acting at the point of suspension.

If the point is high above the deck, such as occurs when towing from a boom end, then the movement of G1 towards the point of suspension may be large. This can have a detrimental effect on stability.

The same situation applies when gear is being lowered or lifted on board, using booms or powerblocks. If a vessel has good stability these operations should present no problems but, if stability is poor, then steps should be made to improve stability.

If gear becomes foul when towing, there will be two effects:

  1. Dynamic effect – the vessel will heel over because it will be still trying to move ahead.
  2. Static effect – as long as there is any strain on the gear, the circumstances will be the same as described above, i.e., the vessel will heel. The angle of heel will be less than that caused by the dynamic effect.

All strain should be taken off the gear as quickly as possible by stopping the engines and if possible, slacking away on the trawl winches. If necessary, stability should be improved before action is taken to free the gear.

Free surface effect

All liquids in partially filled tanks have a free surface, which is free to slop backwards and forward with the motion of the ship. This free surface effect can cause a serious stability problem if the movement of the liquid is not contained.

The vessel will roll slightly to a small angle of heel as a result of the wave forces. The internal forces of the shifting water in slack tanks then increase the list further as the liquid flows to the low side. If this causes the vessel to list so that its deck edge is immersed below the waterline, it could well capsize.

Free surface effect is at a maximum in tanks which extend right across the breadth of the vessel.

Water on the deck

If water is shipped on board, then the effect is three-fold. Firstly, a weight is added high up in the vessel, thus reducing stability. Secondly, that water has a free surface effect, which will further reduce stability.

Thirdly, the added weight causes the vessel to sink further in the water, thereby reducing freeboard, and reducing seaworthiness. Freeing ports are provided on deck, so that the water shipped on board can be cleared rapidly.

Structural changes

If a vessel is changed structurally, for example if a new wheelhouse is added or if an extra mast or winch is installed, the effect on stability is exactly the same as though these items were added weights.

Because structural changes are usually complex and old material is often taken off the vessel as well as adding new material it is a survey requirement that all of the vessel’s stability is reworked after structural changes have taken place.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Here’s our 6 top recommendations:

  1. At all times minimise what you store on upper deck cabin tops;
  2. Maintain a watch our all of your tanks (fuel, water, ballast and brine) to minimise the free surface effect. Only a completely empty or completely full tank will have zero free surface effect;
  3. Maintain awareness when you have weights suspend (e.g., cod ends, crane loads, etc.);
  4. Always be alert when trawling in the event of a hook-up;
  5. At all times keep freeing ports (scuppers) clear. They should never be blocked;
  6. If you make structural changes ensure the vessels stability data is updated.


If you’re considering making any changes to your vessel and it’s not going to be “like for like” then get an Accredited Marine Surveyor involved to ensure you meet all the requirements. By simply making changes and hoping no one notices you risk AMSA placing a Prohibition Notice on your vessel stopping it working!

How do you record all your maintenance?

You can do it electronically, in your SMS or in a Maintenance Log Book. Why not use our maintenance Log book, check it out here