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How Australian seafarers use task books

If you are an Australian seafarer, you will need to use a task book to record your sea service, training and experience on board a vessel.

A task book helps you record the practical training and experience on board a vessel. Recording your sea service allows you to make the best use of your time on vessels. The task book contains practical tasks that you must carry out on board a vessel. Completing these tasks will assist you to gain the qualifications you need to become a competent coxswain, master, watchkeeper or engineer.

You are not required to complete your task book for the issue of your certificate of competency. Completing the task book will let you reduce the amount of sea service you are required to do. The reduction in sea service for a completed task book depends on the certificate of competency and your previous experience, but it will be reduced by at least 50 per cent. You can get a task book for all certificates of competency other than General purpose hand.

You are responsible for the safe keeping of your task book throughout your training. You will also need to submit your task book to a registered training organisation and final assessor if your training course or certificate requires you to.

In addition to the requirements contained in a task book, you will also need to meet all the criteria for a certificate of competency specified in the National System for Domestic Commercial Vessels (NSCV) Part D, Crew Competencies. This includes successfully completing a certificate or diploma course with an registered training organisation, presenting a record of your qualifying sea service and requirements specific to each qualification. Read more about the criteria to get a domestic certificate of competency.

Purchase a task book

You can purchase a task book from us and from some registered training organisations. To order a task book directly from us, use the chargeable publications order form.

You may purchase a task book at any time during the process of gaining certification. You do not have to be enrolled in a course at an registered training organisations to obtain a task book.

Change to task books

The task books published from 2017 are different to previous task books. They:

  • contain only practical tasks
  • may form part of an agreed training and assessment strategy at a registered training organisation
  • do not cover all performance criteria and evidence specified in the MAR Maritime Training Package
  • do not take the place of the required training for the issue of a certificate of competency.

Using a task book

When you get your task book, you must:

  • complete the seafarer details section in the front of the book
  • attach a current photograph of yourself
  • sign the declaration.

Starting duties with a task book

As soon as possible when starting duties on a vessel:

  • You need to complete section three vessel details and section five safety and shipboard familiarisation guidance.
  • Your supervisor or qualified person should complete their details in section two supervisor details and sign section three to make sure that you have accurately recorded the vessel details and equipment, and that you have met the requirements of, and have signed, section five.

The details of your vessel and supervisor at the time must always be completed.

Recording sea service 

You must keep a precise record of your seagoing service in your task book including the time you spent on watchkeeping duties both on deck and in the engine room. You must record this in section four on board sea service record.

Recording tasks

Section six contains a list of on board tasks which you need to complete over time in your task book:

  • You may complete tasks in any order.
  • You may be able to complete a number of tasks together.
  • Some tasks will require you to be observed over a period of time.
  • You will need to perform most tasks many times before an acceptable standard is reached for sign off by your supervisor or qualified person.

A number of tasks require that you provide documented evidence of completion. This may include sketches, photographs, checklists, procedures, notes, and/or copies of documents. The documented evidence forms part of the task book completion requirement and is not optional. You must insert or attach all documented evidence and submit it with the task book. You may also use a separate exercise book for recording additional information provided that you submit the exercise book with the task book.

For each unit there is a section where you may record tasks in addition to those listed. This section is not compulsory but it will add to the completion of your task book.

You should try to complete all tasks. We expect that in some cases that it will not be possible for you to complete all tasks as most vessels do not carry every kind of equipment, operate in every condition or perform every function. You must complete a minimum of 80 per cent of all tasks in the task book to qualify for a reduction in sea service.

Requirements for completing your task book

You must:

  • Complete your task book under supervision in the workplace in a seagoing or operational environment.
  • Complete your task book while you are working on a vessel that meets the requirements for qualifying sea service as per NSCV Part D for the relevant certificate of competency.
  • Understand that task books do not provide workplace health and safety guidance on how to complete tasks and that you and your supervisors are responsible for tasks being conducted safely.
  • Spread tasks out over a realistic timeframe, reflecting when you would normally do them on the job.
  • Make sure that your vessel’s name is recorded for each completed task, along with the date the task was completed and your supervisor’s signature (each task must be signed off).
  • Make sure you complete all tasks (as far as practicable given the equipment, cargo and/or voyage pattern of the vessel(s) you served on).
  • Be aware that final assessors may review the contents of your task book, including the level of completion and standard of the content, and ask questions on items covered in the book as considered appropriate. If the final assessor is not satisfied with your task book they may defer the oral examination until the deficiencies are rectified.
  • Be aware that we, your local marine safety agency or an registered training organisation may validate the information contained in your task book, and may contact the signatories to check the accuracy of task book entries.

Task book completion check

Once your task book is completed, a representative of an registered training organisation or the final assessor must sign in the front of the book to verify that you have completed it to the extent possible given the equipment, cargo or voyage pattern of the your vessel(s). Anything less than 100 per cent completion is only acceptable where it was not possible for you to complete all tasks. Section three, which contains details of your vessels, their operation and equipment, will be used to assess whether the level of completion is appropriate. Your task book will not be signed off if tasks that you could have completed have not been. Completion cannot be signed off if you have not achieved 80 per cent.

To be eligible for a reduction in sea service your task book must be completed and signed off prior to lodging your application for a certificate of competency.

Older versions of task books

You may still use the 2014 version of the task book as a record of completed tasks and sea service, provided the book is completed under supervision and signed off. If you complete an AMSA 2014 task book you will also get a reduction in the required sea service. However, to qualify for the sea service reduction your 2014 task book must be signed off by an registered training organisation when 100 per cent complete.

If you have an AMSA 2014 task book you may either continue with the 2014 book or get an 2017 task book and start over. Where tasks are identical in the two books you can transfer them from the 2014 book to the 2017 book. All tasks you transfer must be signed off individually, preferably by the person who signed them originally, but at the very least by a supervisor or qualified person (as defined in your task book and in the additional notes for supervisors or qualified persons). The 2014 and 2017 books are significantly different and there are a limited number of tasks that you can transfer.

You must complete all tasks in a single book. It is not acceptable for you to have some tasks signed off in a 2014 task book and some in a 2017 task book.

Related information

Important disclaimer

These instructions are summary information only. We make decisions about seafarer certificates under Marine Order 505 (Certificates of competency national law) 2013 and the National Standard for Commercial Vessels (NSCV) Part D, Crew Competencies. These documents have full details of the eligibility and other requirements for certificate applications.

Last updated: 6 February 2018
Last reviewed: 6 February 2018