SRA section 12 details the obligation for certain Australian-owned ships to be registered on the Australian General Register. In circumstances where a valid application is made under s.15 of the SRA, there is an appropriate certificate relating to the tonnage measurement of the ship (s.16) and the ship is not otherwise registered (s.17) then the Registrar of Ships is obliged to register the ship in the General Register.

However, entry on the AISR is not automatic, and as a matter of policy, the Australian Government has chosen to limit AISR registration to quality operators maintaining quality ships engaged on international trading. As a result the SRA gives AMSA the discretion not to register a ship on the International Register even if a complete application is made under s.15C of the AISR. This enables AMSA to control the standard of the ships that enter on the AISR, thereby protecting the reputation of the Australian flag.

In making such a registration decision, AMSA will consider the matters listed in s.15F(2) of the SRA and s.14(2) of the Shipping Registration Regulations 1981. The Registrar of Ships is obliged to refuse registration on the International Register where the ship does not comply with the conditions detailed in Part 3 of this guide, or in circumstances where the ship is not considered of an adequate standard for inclusion on the AISR.

In considering whether a ship is of a suitable standard for inclusion on the AISR, SI&R will conduct an assessment of the issues of concern prescribed in s.15F(2) of the SRA and provide a recommendation to the Registrar of Ships.

These are:

  1. The age of the ship.
  2. The PSC history of the ship.
  3. The classification history of the ship.
  4. The outcome of any pre-registration inspection of the ship by an AMSA Surveyor.
  5. Any other matters that SI&R consider relevant.
  6. Any matters prescribed by the Shipping Registration Regulations 1981.

General information regarding how this assessment will be conducted is provided in the following material but this does not prevent SI&R from considering other issues (as permitted in (e) above), such as casualties, and making a recommendation based on these factors.

4.1 Age of the ship

Historical port State control data collected by AMSA indicates that the age of a vessel is one of the major contributing risk factors in determining the likelihood of a ship being detained. However, age itself is not determinative, and the age of the ship will be considered in conjunction with the ship’s port and flag state history as well as it class records5.

4.1.1 Age limitations

The nominal maximum age limit on ships entering the AISR will be 15 years from keel laid date. However, older ships may be accepted subject to being assessed as suitable. This limitation does not apply to the Australian General Shipping Register.

The following age criteria will be employed to assess ships applying to enter the AISR:

  1. Ships up to 10 years of age, where a ship has a good port State control history and no issues are noted with respect to the class records, will normally be excluded from the need for a pre- registration inspection6
  2. Ships over 10 years of age, and up to 20 years of age, may be accepted for registration under the AISR subject to a good port State control history, where no issues are noted with respect to the class records. However, a pre-registration inspection will be required unless specifically deemed not to be required by SI&R.
  3. Ships over 20 years of age will only be accepted onto the AISR in exceptional circumstances. These ships will be subject to a pre-registration inspection. In addition evidence of the structural and material condition of the ship will normally be sought from the relevant classification society7.

4.1.2 Exclusion from the need for a pre-registration inspection

Noting 4.1.1(a), the following ships may be excluded from the need to be subject to a pre- registration inspection:

  1. Ships of less than 10 years old with a good port State and Classification Society survey and certification history.
  2. Newly constructed ships which have been built to comply with the Navigation Act and relevant delegated legislation.
  3. Newly or recently constructed ships built to comply with Marine Orders where AMSA has had oversight of the ship.8

d) Newly or recently constructed ships which have traded to Australia where AMSA has had considerable oversight of the vessel under port State control.

4.2 Port State control (PSC) history

In addition to the contributory age related risk factor referred to in 4.1, AMSA will consider the PSC history of the ship and/or operators as this provides a significant indicator of performance. When examining the PSC history of a ship, AMSA will consider the history of the ship based on the last 5 years of PSC data as indicated in section 3.2.5 of this guide. The data to be considered during the assessment will be based on the entire PSC record, not just a regional record, as it will be this history that AMSA will take on as the flag administration. 

Noting the requirements detailed in sections 4.2.1 to 4.2.3 below, owner/operators should also be aware in the following cases:

  • where there is limited PSC data (i.e the ship has not traded within a PSC MOU region)
  • where a ship is transferring from a flag State on the Black List with one or more MOU’s9

this will normally trigger the need for a pre-registration inspection if the vessel is being considered for registration on the AISR.

4.2.1 Detention history

The following criteria will be applied to the assessment of a ship’s PSC history in regard to detentions:

  • A ship which has been detained twice in the previous 18 months will not be accepted onto the AISR.
  • A ship which has been detained four times in the five years under consideration will not be accepted into the AISR.

In the event that the owner/operator is of the view that there are extenuating circumstances related to the detention history, they may make a submission to the Manager SI&R detailing those circumstances and providing relevant documentary evidence for consideration. Based on this information the Manager SI&R will make a recommendation to the Registrar of Ships.

4.2.2 Deficiency history

In addition to the detention criteria the following will be applied to the assessment of the PSC history of a ship in regard to any of the following deficiencies:

  1. A ship which has exceeded the average number of deficiencies* per inspection within an MOU region over the preceding two years may be considered as “high risk”. These ships may be subject to a pre-registration inspection, regardless of age, depending on the nature of the deficiencies10. Such ships may not be accepted onto the AISR.
  2. A ship which has an average of more than 10 deficiencies per inspection over the 5 year assessment period will not normally be accepted onto the AISR. Where acceptance is considered, such ships will be subject to a pre-registration inspection.
  3. A ship which has one or more inspections in the preceding 2 year assessment period where more than 20 deficiencies are noted will not normally be accepted onto the AISR. Where acceptance is considered, such ships will be subject to a pre-registration inspection.

In the event that the owner/operator is of the view that there are extenuating circumstances related to the deficiency history, they may make a submission to the Manager SI&R detailing those circumstances and providing relevant documentary evidence for consideration. Based on this information the Manager SI&R will make a recommendation to the Registrar of Ships.

4.2.3 Owner/operator history

AMSA will also consider the collective performance of all ships belonging to, or operated by, an individual owner/operator in respect to PSC history within the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean MOU regions. This evaluation will be undertaken to determine if there is a good history across all the ships in the owner’s/operator’s fleet. This evaluation will be based on the detention and deficiency history of all ships in the fleet. The evaluation would be extended to the other MOU regions if the owner/operator does not have a presence in the PSC MOU region.

4.3 Classification records

Classification Society records submitted are to include copies of all current statutory certificates currently issued to the ship. The Manager SI&R will examine the ships classification records to determine if there are any of the following:

1. unacceptable conditions or exemptions applied to the ship.
2. open conditions of class.
3. other evidence that points to a failure to comply with relevant requirements.

Where such issues are noted, the Manager SI&R will make recommendations to the Registrar of Ships. This may include the need for issues noted in relation to points 1 and 2 to be resolved before the ship can be registered on the AISR. Issues noted under point 3 will be considered as part of the evaluation of the owner’s/operator’s performance under 4.2.3 of the guide.

* Average numbers of deficiencies as published in the annual reports of respective PSC MOUs.

4.4 Outcome of any pre-registration inspection

Where a pre-registration inspection finds issues of non-compliance with relevant requirements these will normally need to be rectified before the ship can be registered on the AISR. Where the inspection finds the ship is in very poor condition, and/or there is evidence of a systemic failure of the Safety Management System (SMS) then this may be considered sufficient grounds for SI&R to recommend the ship not be accepted onto the AISR until such issues can be resolved to the satisfaction of the Manager SI&R.

4.5 Recognition of seafarer qualifications

Seafarers working on ships registered on the AISR will need to have their qualifications recognised by AMSA. The requirements for such recognition are contained in Marine Order 2 (Australian International Shipping Register).

Read a guide to the recognition of qualifications on AISR vessels.

4.6 Removal from the AISR

A ship may be removed from the AISR under s.66 (Ships lost or ceasing to be entitled to be registered) and 33B (Cancellation of registration in the International Register).

4.6.1 General provision for removal from the general or international register under s.66 of the SRA a ship which:

  • has been lost11
  • is destroyed or broken up
  • is no longer entitled to be registered (i.e: sold)

can be removed from the relevant register. The owner/operator of the ship is obligated to give notice of such events within 30 days under section 32 of the Shipping Registration Regulations 1981.

4.6.2 Cancellation of registration on the AISR

Section 33B of the SRA allows AMSA to cancel registration under the AISR where a ship does not comply with relevant legislative requirements including:

In addition, registration may be cancelled if the ship is unseaworthy or substandard, is not used predominantly to engage in international trading, a collective agreement is not in force, or for failure to continue to meet the requirement of the Shipping Registration Regulations 1981.

Where a ship has contravened any of the above it may be removed from the AISR.

It is not the intention that ships should be removed from the AISR where rectification action is practical, reasonable and can be instituted in a timely manner. AMSA takes the view that, in circumstances that warrant it, proactive action to improve ship compliance is better than immediate punitive action.

In order to promote compliance, where there are concerns about a ship, a Notice would normally be given to the owner/operator of the ship with the intention that the ship should be bought into compliance prior to action under s.33B of the SRA being required.

Note: Where a ship is removed from the AISR it is required to be registered on the Australian General Shipping Register on the basis of its Australian ownership.

4.7 Right of appeal related to registration

There are a range of appeal provisions in the SRA that permit appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and these are detailed in s.78 of SRA.

4.7.1 Right of appeal for refusal of registration

Where a ship is refused entry onto the AISR the Registrar of Ships will provide a Notice in writing to the owner/operator as required by s.15F(6) of the SRA. This Notice will give reasons for the decision.

The owner/operator may make an application in writing to AMSA’s Chief Executive Officer for review of the decision of the Registrar of Ships. Such applications should be made within 28 days of the decision of the Registrar of Ships. The application should set out the reasons for the application and provide enough information to allow the Chief Executive Officer to decide the application.

4.7.2 Right of appeal for removal from the register

If a decision is made to cancel registration on the AISR the Registrar of Ships will provide a Notice in writing to the owner/operator as required by s.33B(3) of the SRA. This Notice will give reasons for the decision.

The owner/operator may make an application in writing to AMSA’s Chief Executive Officer for review of the decision of the Registrar of Ships. Such applications should be made within 28 days of the decision of the Registrar of Ships. The application should set out the reasons for the application and provide enough information to allow the Chief Executive Officer to decide the application.


Footnotes:

5. See Section 4.3 of this guide.

6. Where an owner/operator is seeking to have a class of ship entered then this may also be cause to dispense with the pre-registration inspection where all records indicate that the operator and individual ships have a good record.

7. The RO being the ships Classification Society. Any work by the Classification Society will be at the owner/operators cost.

8. Where this exclusion is sought it will be specifically agreed by the Manager Ship Inspection and Registration.

9. Including the US Coast Guard Black List.

10.When considering deficiencies particular emphasis will be placed on repeat deficiencies of the same type, particularly if these indicate a weakness or failure of the safety management system.

11.Including being lost or taken in conflict.