In 2015-16 we continued to progress many initiatives across our areas of operation: vessel and seafarer safety, search and rescue, marine environment protection, and navigation safety. This report contains detailed information on these initiatives, a few of which I would like to highlight.
In preparation for our transition to full service delivery for the National System for Domestic Commercial Vessel Safety (National System), this year we began developing capability for the delivery of new regulatory services and cost arrangements. This involved extensive consultation with industry and service delivery partners.
We have increased face-to-face interaction with industry through a network of liaison officers in each state and territory who meet with stakeholders at the waterfront. To improve the safety culture of this industry, we conducted a series of safety management system workshops around the country.
We continued to work with industry and maritime agencies to progressively review existing commercial vessel standards. Our reform work centred on simplification of the National Standards for Commercial Vessels, which set out the standards governing commercial vessel design, operation, crewing and safety requirements.
This year we maintained our strong international presence through representation at various bodies, technical cooperation programs and in memoranda of understanding. In November 2015, Australia was re-elected to the International Maritime Organization Council (IMO) at the IMO’s 29th Assembly meeting, continuing our 40-plus year Council membership.
We extended a recent AMSA initiative in improving international standards to reduce the risk of liquefaction of bulk cargoes, by seeking IMO agreement to new moisture minimisation requirements for bauxite and nickel ore. We also undertook consultations with industry and other stakeholders leading up to the introduction of Verified Gross Mass requirements for shipping containers, which came into effect on 1 July 2016.
We have continued working to create an industry safety culture through leading the revision of the Guidelines on Fatigue at the IMO, and our management of Australia’s Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping Advisory Group.
On the search and rescue front, we worked with Maritime New Zealand on the implementation of the Medium-altitude Earth Orbit Search and Rescue (MEOSAR) Capability. The communication network from the Australian MEOSAR satellite ground station was completed in June 2016 and will be ready for operation by early 2017. We also continued preparations for the transition of our dedicated airborne search and rescue service. In August we commenced a staged transition to a new service provider, Cobham SAR Services Pty Ltd. Cobham will operate four specially-modified Bombardier Challenger jets to sustain our capability to undertake visual and electronic searches for people in distress.
In 2015 our marine environment officers assisted Maritime Safety Queensland with an oil spill in the vicinity of Cape Upstart. In May 2016 we hosted around 400 domestic and international delegates at Spillcon 2016, the international oil spill conference for the Asia-Pacific region. We also engaged with our government partners and industry through the annual National Plan for Maritime Environmental Emergencies (National Plan) exercise. This exercise is a key component of National Plan capability and provides an opportunity for participants to practise the skills they will use in real incidents.
We continued our work in regards to vessel traffic services (VTS), authorising ten new VTSs and developing new policies focused on compliance and enforcement and VTS operators. To further refine our under keel clearance management system in the Torres Strait, we are investigating a number of potential recommendations. While our navigation safety systems are world-class, it is important we continue to improve them to manage future challenges.
As Chairman of AMSA, I am proud of our achievements to date and, together with the Board and Executive, am committed to ensuring we are well placed to respond to future challenges.
I acknowledge the contributions of my fellow Board members. I would also like to thank Andrew Wilson, our departmental Board member who retired in March after ten and a half years of Board service.
I wish to recognise the exemplary leadership provided by AMSA’s Chief Executive Officer Mick Kinley and the AMSA executive.
To Minister Darren Chester, his staff, and the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, I pass on our thanks for their continued support.
Finally, on behalf of the Board, I wish to thank the staff of AMSA. It is a particularly busy and challenging time as we prepare to take over full service delivery for the National System. However, we are confident that our people are capable of meeting this challenge and continuing to provide a high level of service to our stakeholders.
Stuart Richey AM
20 September 2016