Qualifying near coastal sea service

How to fulfill, record and provide your sea service requirements for your qualification.

Sea service assessment

Your sea service will be assessed using the National Standard for Commercial Vessels Part D, Crew Competencies (NSCV Part D).

You can find the sea service requirements for your qualification under Domestic qualifications and training. Each qualification lists the sea service you need for new certificates, and if you are renewing your certificate.

Once you have accrued your sea service, you can apply for a qualifying sea service assessment using form 560.

Evidence of service

You must provide evidence supporting a claim for sea service at the time of application for all new certificates of competency other than a General purpose hand near coastal.

You must also provide evidence of sea service at the time of renewal for these certificates:

  • Master less than 35 metres near coastal
  • Mate less than 80 metres near coastal
  • Master less than 80 metres near coastal
  • Marine engine driver grade 1 near coastal
  • Engineer class 3 near coastal

You can provide evidence of sea service through:

  • an approved sea service log book or task book
  • a letter from the operator, owner, master or chief engineer of a vessel detailing your sea service (see Recording sea service)
  • a completed Record of sea service
  • a declaration acceptable to AMSA—for example a statutory declaration declared by the owner, master or seafarer.

Task books

The NSCV Part D provides for a reduction in the amount of qualifying sea service you require if you complete a task book. You must submit the completed and signed seafarer details page from your completed task book with your evidence of sea service to be eligible for the reduction in the sea service requirement.

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

Calculation of qualifying sea service

1. Qualifying sea service is measured in days spent performing tasks appropriate to the class of certificate to which the sea service applies.

2. At least half of your sea service must be within five years before your application.

3. For Coxswain grade 2 and 1 NC, and Marine engine driver grade 3 near coastal, you must be at least 14 years old when performing sea service. For all other certificates of competency you must be at least 16 years old.

4. A day is a minimum of 7.5 hours.

5. You can accumulate the hours for calculating one day over more than one day. If you work 3.5 hours on one day you can carry it over to the next day until you have a total of 7.5 hours to make one day of qualifying sea service.

6. If you work more than 7.5 hours in any 24 hour period you can claim one day of qualifying sea service and no more. You cannot carry the extra time over to the next day. 

7. You may accrue sea service in the following circumstances:

  • While the vessel is underway. A vessel is underway when it is:
    • operating
    • not tied to a jetty
    • at anchor with a person on anchor watch
    • being manoeuvred to free it from being aground.
  • For a deck certificate—up to 15 per cent, on a vessel that is not underway, while you are performing duties in a deck capacity, or refitting work.
  • For an engineering certificate—up to 33 per cent, on a vessel that is not underway, while you are performing engine related duties or refitting.

8. You will be credited an additional 10 days sea service for each full 20 days accrued on voyages of more than 24 hours duration:

  • that include periods underway where you perform duties in a watchkeeping capacity or undertake deck duties in both day and night
  • during which fatigue is managed in accordance with the STCW Convention.

9. If you are living on a vessel, sea service may be counted only while you are carrying out relevant navigational or engineering work such as carrying out normal commercial operations, taking passengers, navigating, at anchor during sight-seeing or charter.

10. Sea service accrued while performing dual certified roles on vessels with propulsion power up to 750 kilowatts can be counted towards both deck and engineering certificates of competency.

Calculating propulsion power

Propulsion power of a multi screw or multi propulsion vessel less than 35 metres operating in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is equal to the maximum continuous rated power of the vessel’s largest propulsion unit as recorded on the vessel’s certificate of survey or certificate of operation.

For any other vessel (single screw, longer than 35 metres, or operating beyond the EEZ), the propulsion power is equal to the total of the combined maximum continuous rated output power of all the vessel’s main propulsion machinery as recorded on the vessel’s certificate of survey or certificate of operation.

Recording sea service

The following information outlines the requirements for providing evidence of your sea service using the Record of sea service, a letter or a declaration. Task books contain an 'On board sea service record' which requires similar information as outlined in the task book.

When recording your sea service you need to be aware that you will be guilty of an offence under section 137.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 if you give false or misleading information.

Area of operation

You must record the primary operational area for each voyage. If a voyage includes transiting through areas of operation. These areas may be sheltered waters to operate in open water, the area of operation is recorded as open water.

You must record areas of operation using the following operational area codes:


Foreign going (overseas voyages)

A Unlimited domestic operations
A600 Domestic operations within 600 nautical miles
B Offshore operations within 200 nautical miles
I Inshore operations, being laterally along the coast from the base or regular port of departure and within 15 nautical miles of the coast or sheltered waters
D Partially smooth water operations
E Smooth water operations
SH Ashore
O Other

Type of operation

You must record the type of operation using the following type of operation codes:

C Commercial (passenger, trading, fishing, rescue)
R Recreational
M Military

Duties performed

Some Certificates of competency require that a portion of your qualifying sea service is obtained while performing specific duties. For this reason it is important you accurately record the duties you perform on board.

You must record the duties you performed using the following codes:

AE Assistant to Engineer
AED Assistant to Engine driver
CE Chief engineer
SE Second engineer
EW Engineer watchkeeper
GPH/E General purpose hand (engineering)
GPH/D General purpose hand (deck)
GPH/DE General purpose hand (deck and engineering)
NW In charge of navigational watch
MUS Master under supervision
M Master
M/E Master / Engine driver

Other details you must record

You must record the following details about each vessel for which you are claiming qualifying sea service:

  • vessel name
  • vessel identification number
  • vessel length
  • propulsion system—outboard or inboard engine/s
  • number of engines
  • propulsion power (kilowatts)
  • start and finish date of voyage. Entries may include multiple voyages if:
    • on the same vessel
    • in the same area of operation and undertaking the same duties.

It is recommended that entries cover no longer than a three-month time span.

  • number of days at sea
  • average hours worked each day
  • number of days on voyages longer than 24 hours
  • number of days operating outside of daylight hours
  • certificate/s of competency held.

Some certificates of competency have prerequisite requirements for qualifying sea service. For example, a Mate less than 80 metres near coastal or Master less than 24 metres near coastal is required before you can accrue sea service for a Master less than 35 metres near coastal. You can find the prerequisite requirements for your qualification under Domestic qualifications and training.

International sea service

If you are submitting sea service gained on international vessels or voyages, you must submit appropriate evidence of sea service, and the vessel’s identification and details.

You may support this information by providing evidence including the following:

  • vessel logs
  • details of the area of operation, class of waters and minimum distance from the mainland or island shore line
  • specifications of engine room and equipment and vessel length.

Evidence such as photographs, brochures and an authorised letter from the owner, master or chief engineer (on the vessel’s company letterhead), will also help substantiate your sea service application.

Sea service accrued on private luxury yachts

Privately owned luxury yachts are often referred to as 'white boats' or 'superyachts'. They can be described as non-commercial, professionally crewed motor or sailing yachts which are constructed, equipped and operated in a similar manner to commercial vessels. These vessels would typically be of a substantial size with complex systems and would often be in class survey and/or employ appropriately certified crew.

If you claim commercial sea service on a luxury yacht, you may be required to provide further evidence as proof of the commercial nature of the sea service and the period of time that you were employed. You may provide evidence such as:

  • a letter from the vessel owner or operator with details of the vessel confirming that you were in paid employment, and the nature and period of employment
  • an original or copy of your employment contract which clearly identifies the vessel/s, duties you undertook and the period of your contract
  • originals or copies of your pay slips.

Recognition of other types of service

We may recognise other qualifying sea service in capacities or trades not identified under NSCV Part D.

In such cases, your sea service will be recognised according to its equivalence to the NSCV Part D requirements including:

  • duration and frequency of voyages
  • kind of duties performed and their duration and frequency
  • level of responsibility during the service
  • the relevance of the service to the certificate of competency applied for.

Discounting service

If we consider that any of your sea service is not relevant to the certificates of competency being applied for, all or part of your service may not be accepted as qualifying sea service.

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 Part D, Crew Competencies. These documents have full details of the eligibility and other requirements for certificate applications.

Note: this page was previously published as guidance notice AMSA 731

Last updated: 6 March 2018
Last reviewed: 6 March 2018