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Training and drills

A new version of Marine Order 504 is now in effect.


So what’s changed?

From 1 August 2023, it will become mandatory for domestic commercial vessel owners to include the following in their safety management systems: Induction training for new crew members Life-saving equipment training Provisions to undertake regular drills for their existing emergency procedures, including how often these drills need to take place (frequency), and how they will determine the competency and capability of crew participating in these drills. Some owners have already taken this step and we recognise their initiative. Others who are yet to incorporate this type of training and provisions for drills in their safety management systems, will need to do so before 1 August 2023 at which point it will become mandatory under the revised Marine Order 504. Not sure where to start? Read on for more general guidance.


Obligations and considerations for owners

Vessel owners must ensure that sufficient training is delivered by appropriately qualified and competent people to all masters and crew, so that they are fully aware and able to safely perform their duties in key onboard operations and emergency situations.

Key things to consider:

  • Is induction and familiarisation training for masters and crew conducted in relation to duties, key operations and emergency procedures? 
  • How will you determine the competency and ability of masters and crew to undertake their duties, key operations and emergency procedures? 
  • Who will conduct the training and sign them off as competent? 
  • How often will masters and crew be required to conduct training and drills? 
Train. Drill. Log. Repeat.

Emergency procedures, onboard training and drills.

Training and drilling your master and crew in emergency procedures might just save a life. Remember to log these activities.

training drills images
What is induction training?

Induction training provides new masters and crew with initial training upon joining a vessel that covers safety training, key onboard operations and emergency procedures.

Just because someone may have many years of experience, it shouldn’t be assumed that they know your vessel or operations. 

This training needs to occur as soon as practical and should ideally occur before the vessel leaves port or within the first day (where possible) of the person joining the vessel.

What about training in emergency procedures?

Training and drills in emergency procedures needs to cover off all the elements of your emergency response plan, including mandatory requirements such as fire, collision, person overboard and master incapacitated.

This also needs to include training in the use of the vessel’s life-saving equipment such as life rafts, EPIRBs and lifejackets.

Training and drills need to be conducted at a frequency determined by the owner to test onboard procedures and to confirm the competence and ability of masters and crew to respond rapidly and effectively in an emergency

How do I record that training has been undertaken?

Within your safety management system, you must keep a record of each crew member’s induction training, familiarisation training and emergency drill participation.

This record needs to detail the following information:

  • Name of any person participating 
  • Signature of participants (this can also be an electronic signature) 
  • Description of the training undertaken (e.g., induction, person overboard drill, use of life raft etc.) 
  • Date training occurred 

These records need to be kept for at least 5 years.

How do I record electronic signatures?

In addition to physical or ‘wet ink’ signatures, participants may also provide electronic signatures. 

Owners should ensure that:

  • The electronic signature clearly identifies the participant and confirms that the participant agrees with the contents of the record entry (this may be achieved when the electronic signature is accompanied by a person’s name and the date)   
  • The method used to sign must be reliable and appropriate. The onus remains on the owner to prove that a participant has signed the record.   

Electronic signatures may take various forms and some acceptable examples include: 

  • Using a digital signature. 
  • A digital signature is a type of electronic signature that uses encryption.  
  • Signing an electronic document on a smartphone, tablet or laptop using a stylus or finger.  
  • Scanning and inserting (pasting) a physical signature into an electronic document typing a name in an electronic format.  
Train. Drill. Log. Repeat.
Training and induction – what to consider

Ensure training and inductions are included in your vessel’s risk assessment, detailed in your vessel’s safety management system and that you log these activities after you have done them.

  • Do you provide training and inductions for new masters and crew?

Does this happen as soon as practical after they join the vessel?

  • Do you provide familiarisation training for masters and crew on key onboard procedures like fishing, towing or cargo work?

How often do you ensure you do this?

How do you ensure they are competent to undertake their duties safely?

  • Does your training include drills for all emergency procedures, including master incapacitated and collisions?
  • Does your training include the use of life-saving equipment like liferafts, lifejackets, EPIRBs and flares?
  • Do you log details of training activities like who participated, what training they did, when it occurred, etc?

Did they sign-off on this log? Either on paper or electronically?

Did you know this record needs to be kept for 5 years?


Review your risk assessment every 12 months and following any incidents.

Download and print our Train. Drill. Log. Repeat. checklist. PDF178.31 KB