THE AUSTRALIAN Maritime Safety Authority has released results of its Safety of Navigation Focused Inspection Campaign (FIC) undertaken from 1 August to 8 September 2021.

The FIC results showed that a significant number of ships failed to comply to basic navigation safety requirements.

The campaign focused on the level of compliance with the safety of navigation requirements of international conventions; and the familiarity of the master and officers with their processes for ensuring safety of navigation.

In conjunction with a standard port state control (PSC) inspection, specific questions relating to safety of navigation were asked by the inspectors. These questions, and a Marine Notice announcing the campaign, were put on AMSA’s website prior to commencement of the FIC.

The campaign was conducted as a core part of AMSA’s Compliance Plan for 2021/22 and was scheduled for two months with a target of 200 inspections.

Lock-downs in various states, and restrictions implemented to protect AMSA staff and the Australian public meant that AMSA ceased the campaign early on 8 September 2021, after exceeding its target of 200 inspections.

In total, 278 ships were inspected during the FIC. AMSA detained 21 ships during the period of the FIC, seven of which were directly attributed to the safety of navigation FIC. This shows that 33.33% of all detentions during the FIC related to safety of navigation, a result that AMSA described as “extremely concerning”.

Key results of the FIC included:

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

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

The most positive results were that the majority of vessels are using up to date Official Electronic Nautical Charts (99%) and have the required inputs to ECDIS connected and configured correctly (gyro, continuous position fixing system and speed and distance measure device). In addition, (97%) maintain a proper lookout in accordance with the COLREGs (98%), and regularly test navigation equipment to ensure its proper operation (98%).

AMSA has recently provided guidance relating to safety of navigation and masters and watchkeepers are strongly encouraged to review these documents and take steps to improve safety of navigation onboard their ships.

This information can be found on the AMSA Website: Marine Notice 07/2021 – Responsible Navigational Practices and Maritime Safety Awareness Bulletin Issue 14 – Safety of Navigation

As a result of this campaign, AMSA intends to increase its focus on safety of navigation onboard ships that navigate in Australian waters and arrive at Australian ports. It will also undertake this campaign again in 12-18 months’ time.

Source: AMSA