Survey Matters—March 2020

In this edition we talk about survey procedures to verify radio installations on some vessels, we give tips for conducting a load line renewal survey, talk about simple exemptions and more.
20 March 2020

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Since the last edition

The word version of the AMSA 901 form has been updated. The check boxes can now be selected correctly.

AMSA recently participated in a joint patrol with the Thursday Island Water Police and Queensland Fisheries and Boating Patrol (QFBP) along the western side of Cape York. The region is a remote operating environment for the DCV fleet and due to ongoing visits from AMSA, QFBP and Queensland Police Service (QPS), operators in the region have made significant improvements in their regulatory compliance.

The trip provided a valuable opportunity to share knowledge on the National System and see the challenges our partner agencies encounter. Building relationships with frontline staff in these regions will assist QFBP and QPS with enquiries on rule application and interpretation.

The recent submission for a new NSW police vessel certificate of survey proved to be a great example of the national system working as intended. The final survey was recommended in MARS at 9:50am 03/02/2020 with AMSA’s assessment of the application commencing the same morning at 10:55. The submission from the accredited surveyor exceeded the minimum requirement for plan approval, which included 70+ clearly labelled drawings, and excellent construction detail for the vessel.

A request for further information regarding the application was sent to the surveyor and promptly answered resulting in the certificate being issued at 13:20 on the same day.

In this edition 

Large file transfer

A large file transfer platform is available for instances where emailing a large file isn’t possible or would prove too slow. Temporary access can be requested by sending an email to

Accreditation matters

Part of the process to renew your accreditation is to supply supporting documentation regarding continued professional development undertaken within the last 5 years.

Examples of continued professional development include, but are not limited to, certificates of attendance or statements of:

  • Additional qualifications
  • Short courses
  • Technical meetings
  • Safety training
  • Conferences
  • Workshops
  • Mentoring
  • Writing publications
  • Private study
  • Subscriptions

Please note that you are required to submit your application for renewal of accreditation and pay the fee no less than 3 months prior to the expiry of your accreditation, given that processing of an application and undertaking the associated tasks can take a number of weeks. If you do not wish to renew your accreditation, please advise us by email.

Radio matters

What is the survey procedure to verify radio installations on vessels that are not required to have a Maritime Ship Licence or undergo subsequent radio survey?


The Radiocommunications (Maritime Ship Station — 27 MHz and VHF) Class Licence 2015 authorise the use of maritime ship stations within the 27MHz and VHF maritime bands (as well as designated UHF and radiodetermination equipment) on a shared basis.

This regulation grants persons the right to operate a VHF radio station (or other specified equipment) provided they have:

  • a recognised qualification; or
  • are supervised by a person who has a recognised qualification; and
  • provided the operator identifies themselves by a call sign, or where using Digital Selective Calling (DSC), by a Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI);

Where an Automatic Identification System (AIS) is installed, this regulation specifies that it may only operate on a frequency of 161.975 MHz or 162.025 MHz (AIS channels 1 & 2) with a maximum transmitter output power of 12.5 watts pY (mean power).

Survey Considerations

Where a survey encompasses the installation of a new radio set that includes DSC or incorporates AIS and the vessel does not require Maritime Ship Licence or radio survey, the surveyor should request the following documentation:

  • The vessels MMSI registration letter from AMSA
  • A declaration from the person who has programed the equipment stating:
    • That the MMSI number and vessel type as shown on the AMSA registration letter has been programed into the vessel’s equipment
    • The frequency(ies) that the AIS is outputting on; and
    • Where the person declaring has the competency, that the transmitter output power is not greater than 12.5 watts pY

This documentation should be recorded on the vessels survey file and a copy retained with the vessel.

Gear survey comments

Did you know you can provide comments and notes for vessel items for future reference?

Periodic and out of water survey activities in MARS include a section called Gear Survey Comments.


By clicking add, you can add a comment about any item on the vessel.

E.g. Item: Port Fuel Vent. Comment: Signs of corrosion, owner to implement maintenance plan, may warrant closer inspection at next survey to verify maintenance plan in action.


More than one item to comment on? No problem, just click add again for another row.

Why would you do this?

Adding a gear comment to your survey report allows the next surveyor to see this information on the vessel report. The next surveyor can conduct a closer inspection of the item, without the need to re-identify the area of interest from scratch.

Still emailing in the 901?

We will add a gear comments section at the bottom of the 901 at the next review. For now, put a gear comment into the “survey notes” section of your report and we will enter it into MARS.

Tips for conducting a load line renewal survey

Unless they are a fishing vessel most DCV’s greater than 24m require a load line certificate issued under Marine Order 507. It is a condition of maintaining a load line certificate that vessels undergo renewal (and periodic) surveys.

We have compiled a short series of tips and things to look for when carrying out load line renewal surveys.

Timing of the renewal survey

Carry out the load line renewal surveys at the same time as the certificate of survey renewal surveys (including out of water). You can verify several elements of the load line renewal survey with the vessel out of the water.

Conditions of Assignment

The conditions of assignment are a surveyor’s friend during the load line renewal survey. They give vital information about the arrangement of the vessel at the time the freeboards were calculated and load line marks were assigned. They are a ready way of identifying vessel changes affecting load line. Consult them before conducting the survey.

Marks: Load Line and Draft Marks

Verify the legibility and positioning of the draft marks and load line marks. Are they permanently marked in an appropriate way (welded or punched in)? Measure the position of the summer load line at renewal and compare it to the load line certificate.

Load line marks should contain the assigning authority marks on either side of the load line ring. For vessels maintained in class, the marks either side of the ring shall be those of the class society/recognised organisation.

Air Pipes and Ventilators

Using the conditions of assignment is a good way to verify the correct location, type and height of ventilators on board. Test the effectiveness and free movement of any closing devices. Check the floats on proprietary air pipes and ventilators and check that gauzes etc. are in place for fuel tank air pipes as required. Always check for wastage or holes in ventilator trunking/air pipes and bracing/ supports, especially at deck level.


Doors and Hatches

Survey and test (hose or chalk) the sealing arrangements of watertight and weathertight doors and hatches. Test closing devices such as dogs and hinges must for free movement. Check door and hatch sills for wastage. Check hatch coamings and hatch stays for cracks, wastage and buckling.


Use the conditions of assignment to check that the shipside valves are the correct type for their location. Check shipside valves externally and by internal examination at the out of water survey. Check stub pipes, flanges and gaskets for corrosion and wastage.

Scuppers, side scuttles freeing ports and deadlights

Check all deck scuppers and freeing ports to ensure that they are open and that water flow is not restricted. Check that the correct plugs are provided for the deck scuppers. Check side scuttles below the freeboard deck and deadlights for watertight integrity. Check the rubber packing around the deadlights for damage including perishing of the rubber seal. Check the number and condition of any portable deadlights.

Crew protection, bulwarks and guardrails

Inspect all guardrails and bulwarks including stanchions, horizontal rails, bracketing and supports for wastage and damage (including buckles, crack and fractures). Consider the measurement of guardrail heights if you suspect changes. Report all deficiencies and ensure they are rectified before recommending the load line renewal survey.

DCV welding quality control

Why do we inspect welds?

Fundamentally to determine if the quality is good enough for its intended application. To evaluate a weld you must have a form of measurement to compare its characteristics and a qualified surveyor to perform an evaluation. This means the surveyor needs a form of acceptance criteria, which are contained within welding standards.

The key components of evaluation are the size of the weld and the presence of discontinuities. Weld size is important as it can affect structural strength. Undersized welds may not withstand the stress applied during service. Oversized welds can produce stress concentrations and add to distortion.

Weld discontinuities are a loss in the cross-sectional weld area. The acceptance criteria defines allowable discontinuity limits.

When using Lloyds SSC rules for the deemed to satisfy solutions under NSCV C3 it’s important to follow chapters 3.3.1 and 3.3.2.

For DCV’s the applicable parts are generally:

  • Part 6 Hull construction - Steel;
  • Part 7 Hull construction - Aluminium For parts 6 and 7, the important quality control takeaways for the surveyor are:
  1. The builder’s facilities are appropriate for the type of vessel being constructed.
  2. The surveyor has adequate access to the vessel during construction.
  3. The builder is implementing an appropriate quality assurance system based on the size and type of craft. This involves an inspection and test procedure (ITP) with accredited surveyor witness/hold points at important milestones during construction.
  4. Verifying the correct material grades are being used within construction. This is especially important in areas that require high tensile steel due to design loading and or lifting operations.
  5. Verifying adequate corrosion protection. This includes correct installation of bi-metallic connections, anodes and cathodic protection systems. Any ballast tank, void or freshwater tank should receive special attention.
  6. Verifying that suitable weld size, type and Weld Procedure Specifications (WPS) are used. This covers material thickness, material type, fit up and alignment of the joint, and weld position. 
  7.  Verifying adequate Non-destructive examinations of welds are being carried out. Pay special attention to the hull envelope, high stress areas, load bearing items and lifting equipment. Generally, the acceptance criteria for steel is AS/NZS 1554.1—Structural steel welding - Part 1: Welding of steel structures. For aluminium, it is AS/NZS 1665—Welding of aluminium structures. Both the above standards specify when a defect must be fixed based on the size and type of discontinuity. Note: Dye penetrant or magnetic particle inspection will assist the surveyor to ensure butt welds are watertight and structurally sound.
  8. Special construction details. These include air and drain holes, notches and scallops, watertight collars and connect lugs. Also pay attention to insert and doubler plates (which generally require slot welding when the plate size increases).

Table 1 below reinforces the importance of weld procedures, qualifications and inspections. It breaks down the quality assurance components for the American Welding Society (AWS) Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) examination.

Table 1 - Extract from the AWS website (Key components of weld quality assurance)  Part B: Practical (CWI and CWE)

Subject Percentage
Procedure and welder qualifications 28%
Mechanical test and properties  8%
Welding inspection and flaws 34%
NDE 8%
Utilisation of specification and drawings 8%

Further reading and guidance can be found at the below links:

Simple exemptions

A ‘simple exemption’ is one relating to a matter that doesn’t require technical assessment. AMSA approves these exemptions on a case by case basis, to address minor matters which don’t require the full exemption process. AMSA will initiate the process, if necessary, when assessing an initial certificate of survey application.

Examples of cases for simple exemptions include:

  • recertifying vessels, previously certified for commercial operation with exemptions prior to the National Law; and
  • re-producing exemptions previously issued under the Navigation Act;

We will add a simple exemption to the face of the certificate of survey, which will also contain any applicable conditions.

A specific exemption application is still necessary for more complicated items which require technical assessment. 

Let us know how we can improve

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Include a reference in the subject line for us to direct the feedback accordingly. For example:

  • Feedback – Service delivery
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  • Feedback – Policy and marine orders
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We look forward to your suggestions and building a better National System together.

Last Updated: 

24 April 2020