15/2017—Transfer operations at sea and in coastal waters

The purpose of this notice is to provide advice to ship owners and operators on regulations specific to the transfer of oil cargoes between oil tankers at sea.

Supersedes 8/2012

This notice supersedes Marine Notice 8/2012 which is now cancelled.

This advice is applicable to domestic commercial vessels, regulated Australian vessels and foreign flagged vessels.

Transfer of oil cargo between oil tankers at sea

International requirements related to ship to ship (STS) transfer of oil cargo at sea are contained in Annex I of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships(MARPOL). These requirements apply to STS operations involving oil tankers of 150 gross tonnage and above.

Masters and Operators need to be aware that Chapter 8 of Annex I of MARPOL (Preventions of Pollution During Transfer of Oil Cargo Between Oil Tankers at Sea) mandates the following for STS operations:

  • The vessel carries  a plan prescribing how STS operations are to be conducted (STS Operations Plan) and the person in overall control of the STS operation is appropriately qualified to perform the duties (see regulation 41 of Annex I)
  • That notification of a scheduled STS operation is provided to the local administration (AMSA) not less than 48 hours in advance (see regulation 42 of Annex I for details).

Regulation 41(5) of Annex I also requires that records of STS operations be retained on board for three years.

These international requirements are given effect in Australian law in:

  • Sections 11B to 11G of the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983
  • Sections 24 to 29 of Marine Order 91 (Marine pollution prevention - Oil) 2014.

Transfer operations at sea other than STS transfers between oil tankers

All necessary precautions to ensure the safety of persons and protection of the environment should also be taken for any ship-to-ship transfer of cargoes, persons, or other goods undertaken at sea in the vicinity of the Australian coast (outside port limits).

To enable the appropriate maritime safety information to be promulgated, it is requested that early notification be forwarded to AMSA when such operations (outside port limits) are planned.

It is requested the notification be provided in the manner detailed in s.28 of Marine Order 91 (Marine pollution prevention - Oil) 2014 and include:

  • the date and location of the proposed transfer and full details of the vessels involved
  • the purpose of the transfer
  • if relevant, technical details of the cargo to be transferred (including temperatures and pressures)
  • whether other craft (such as tugs) are to be in attendance and what equipment is to be provided to assist
  • arrangements for oversight of other vessels in the transfer area.

Download Marine notice 15/2017 Transfer operations at sea and in coastal waters (PDF 53 KB)

Gary Prosser
Deputy CEO
Australian Maritime Safety Authority
December 2017

GPO Box 2181 

File No: 2010/1342

Last updated: 21 April 2023