Survey requirements for transitional vessels
Under Marine Order 503 a transitional vessel is an existing vessel that has:
- undergone any of the changes set out in Schedule 1 of Marine Order 503, or
- had a certificate of survey that ceased to be in force for a period of at least two years.
An application for a new certificate of survey is required when a vessel becomes transitional. The survey requirements will vary depending on the change/s made to the vessel.
Marine Order 503 and Part 2 of the National Law – Marine Surveyors Accreditation Guidance Manual outline the standard survey process for transitional vessels.
The standards that apply to transitional vessels are set out in Schedule 2 of Marine Order 503. Alternatively, a transitional vessel can voluntarily meet the standards in the National Standard for Commercial Vessels (NSCV) and specific parts of the Uniform Shipping Laws Code (USL) that apply to new vessels.
Full initial survey
In accordance with Section 9 of Marine Order 503, a vessel must undergo a full initial survey if any of the below changes have occurred:
- there is an upgrade in the service category of the vessel, including the assignment of any additional service category
- the vessel’s operations are relocated outside the geographical location restrictions that apply to the vessel’s certificate of survey or certificate of operation
- there is an increase in the vessel’s propulsion power that invalidates the assumptions and calculations used for structural or stability design approval
- there is a change to the vessel’s structure or watertight integrity including any of the following:
- change to vessel dimensions
- alteration of the passageways or means of access to the vessel or its spaces
- fitting of, or alteration to, a deck or watertight bulkhead
A vessel that has been out of survey for more than 2 years may need to undergo a full initial survey. If a certificate of survey or certificate of operation has been revoked it may need to undergo full initial survey. If you are not sure if the changes will trigger the vessel to become transitional, contact an accredited marine surveyor, or contact AMSA if you require further clarification.
A list of AMSA accredited marine surveyors is available on our website.
Example – Vessel upgrading service category and operation
An existing vessel that is a class 2 workboat built to USL code operates in partially smooth waters. The vessel has been operating commercially as a class 2 vessel since 2010 and has had a valid certificate of survey during this time.
The vessel owner is proposing to use the vessel as a class 1 passenger vessel (more than 12 passengers) with overnight operations. This change is an upgrade in service category and operations. A change of this kind requires the vessel to undergo a full initial survey.
Example – Vessel’s operations are relocated outside the geographical restrictions that apply to the certificate of survey or certificate of operation
An existing vessel has a certificate of survey or operation that restricts the vessel to operating within Queensland waters, but the vessel has relocated to operate in another state.
This change requires the vessel to undergo full initial survey.
Note: A vessel previously regulated under the State or Northern Territory law may be subject to geographical location restrictions on any certificate of survey or certificate of operation issued under the national law. Examples of vessels previously regulated under the State or Northern Territory law with specific geographical location restrictions include: WA survey exempt vessels, NSW commercially registered vessels, Qld certificate of registration vessels, SA certificate of inspection vessels.
Initial survey of changes, plus renewal survey
A vessel must undergo an initial survey for the areas affected by the change, as well as a renewal survey for the rest of the vessel if any of the below changes have occurred:
- the vessel commences the carriage of dangerous goods
- the vessel commences overnight operations with overnight accommodation provided
- there is an increase in either:
- the number of persons on the vessel, or any part of the vessel, that exceed the maximum number permitted; or
- the number of passengers permitted on the vessel
- installation of berths or extra berths
- increase in windage profile of the vessel
- removing, repositioning, installing or modifying of:
- any portion of fixed ballast; or
- lifting equipment; or
- net reels; or
- cranes; or
- trawl apparatus; or
- refrigeration equipment; or
- any kind of tank including for fish, fuel or water; or
- towing points.
Example – Crane installation
The owner of an existing class 3 fishing vessel wishes to add a crane to the vessel. This change requires the vessel to undergo an initial survey for the areas of the vessel affected by installation of the crane, and a renewal survey for the rest of the vessel.
An accredited marine surveyor will need to assess the scope of the changes to the vessel structure and systems and undertake initial surveys as required. Areas of the vessel not subject to initial survey will need to undergo renewal survey to confirm compliance with the transitional standards.
A vessel must complete a renewal survey for any of the changes mentioned below:
- variation of the vessel’s lightship displacement of at least 4%
- variation of the vessel’s lightship LCG by at least 2%
- other than like-for-like replacement of equipment or fittings, there is a change to any of the following for the vessel:
- fixed fire system
- stern gear
- gas system
- electrical power and generators.
Example – Lightship changes
An existing class 1 ferry is undergoing its 5 yearly surveys to renew its certificate of survey. During the periodic lightship check, the vessel’s displacement is found to have increased by more than 4%.
The renewal surveys will need to be conducted to the transitional vessel standards. The vessel will also need to undergo a new stability assessment to the transitional standards. This may result in a change to the number of persons permitted on board the vessel. The accredited surveyor will need to provide AMSA with a list of the applicable transitional standards the vessel has been surveyed to.
What is a like-for-like replacement?
The scope of a like-for-like change is limited. Most changes impact the original scope of approval or affect additional systems. The examples below illustrate this:
Like-for-like or transition trigger
Fixed firefighting system
Replacing bottles, canisters, discharge mechanisms etc.
Fixed firefighting system
Changing from one firefighting medium to another (e.g. gaseous to water mist)
Fixed firefighting system
Changing from one type of gaseous system to another (e.g. Halon to Novec 1230)
Shaft change due to engine replacement
Adding a propeller nozzle
Increasing rudder size or adding a rudder flap
Electrical power and generators
Extensive rewiring / adding a switchboard / upgrading generator power
Any additions or alterations
Main engine change resulting in no changes to structure or associated systems
Changes that aren’t like-for-like will require an application for a new certificate of survey and the vessel will need to undergo a renewal survey (to the transitional standards).
These changes require close examination of all items of the vessel but some of these items may not be immediately obvious. Areas directly affected by the change must meet the current standards. However, there are several areas of the vessel not directly affected by the change that must also be upgraded to the transitional standard requirements:
- the vessel must meet the Collision Regulations (COLREG) requirements
- fixed fire detection and extinguishing is required
- Residual Current Devices (RCDs) must be fitted
- passenger weights need to be upgraded to NSCV requirements and intact stability re-approved
- safety, communications and navigation equipment must meet NSCV requirement
Alternate forms of survey
Under Marine Order 503, AMSA can approve alternate forms of survey on a case-by-case basis. Importantly, this does not alter the standards that apply to the vessel, just the survey process set out in the Surveyor Accreditation Guidance Manual.
When to apply for an alternate survey process
You can seek an alternate survey process if you have considered the survey requirements specified in Marine Order 503 and believe there is a genuine reason it cannot practically be applied to your vessel.
Before applying, you should consider the standard process for transitional vessels. AMSA only departs from standard processes where there is no reduction in safety outcomes. AMSA will not approve an alternate process if we believe it may jeopardise safety.
When not to apply for an alternate survey process
Do not seek an alternate survey unless you have considered the prescribed process in Marine Order 503 and can justify why it cannot be practically applied. Unjustified applications will generally be refused.
Do not seek an alternate survey process for transitional vessel changes that require initial survey to the extent of the change plus renewal. AMSA considers this a straightforward process that generally doesn't require a formal approval.
What should I think about before applying for an approval?
Before applying, it is particularly important to consider:
- all available records for the vessel. Where the design drawings and approval are not held by the applicant; apply to the state jurisdiction of initial approval for the vessel design approval file and any drawings held.
- parts of the vessel that Marine Order 503 specifies as subject to initial survey vs renewal survey.
- transitional standards applied to the vessel through Marine Order 503 which differ from the original approval.
- what approved documentation is available for use in the survey process.
How do I apply for an alternate survey process?
To apply for an alternate survey process:
- complete an AMSA 1854 form (Application for an alternate survey process); and
- attach all relevant supporting documents and calculations.
- Email applications to email@example.com.
- Application for a certificate of survey and/or load line certificate for a domestic commercial vessel AMSA form 521
- Application for an alternate survey process AMSA form 1854
- Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012
- Marine Order 503 (Certificates of survey national law)
- Survey standards for domestic commercial vessels in-survey
- The National Law—Marine Surveyors Accreditation Guidance Manual
- National Standard for Commercial Vessels (NSCV)
- Uniform Shipping Laws Code