AMSA mandated practical assessments
The National Standard for Commercial Vessels (NSCV) Part D—Crew Competencies requires that a seafarer pass a final assessment prior to the issue of a certificate of competency. Prior to 1 July 2018 this was an oral/practical examination conducted by a marine safety agency. From 1 July 2018 the final assessment for low complexity certificates of competency will be an AMSA mandated practical assessment (AMPA) conducted by a registered training organisation approved by AMSA.
The AMPA is a practical assessment of whether the applicant has appropriate operational skills and knowledge, and knowledge of Australian maritime legislation.
The AMPA must be successfully completed prior to the issue of a certificate of competency for these qualifications:
- Master <24 m NC
- Master (inland waters)
- Coxswain grade 1 NC
- Coxswain grade 2 NC
- Marine engine driver grade 2 NC
- Marine engine driver grade 3 NC
A candidate may complete an AMPA for the General Purpose Hand (GPH) certificate of competency although this is not a requirement for certification.
Completing the GPH AMPA may however have practical benefits, as a candidate is only required to complete the AMPA for a particular unit of competency once. Therefore, a candidate who has completed the GPH AMPA is not required to complete the AMPA for those units of competency again for another certificate of competency.
For high complexity certificates of competency the final assessment will be an oral examination conducted by an AMSA examiner.
Sea service requirement
The MAR Maritime training package does not require a person to have completed sea service before enrolling in a course. If a registered training organisation imposes such conditions on enrolment it should be made clear to the person that this is a requirement of the registered training organisation, not AMSA.
A seafarer does not have to have sea service to undertake their AMPA. The AMPA is an assessment of competency.
Validity of the AMPA
As for the oral examination, an AMPA is valid for twelve months. The purpose of a final assessment is to assess whether the applicant has operational knowledge and skills including knowledge of Australian maritime legislation. There is no basis to accept that a person has maintained the skills they acquired during their training or maintained currency in maritime legislative requirements beyond a period of twelve months.
VET regulator requirements
The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) and the Training Accreditation Council Western Australia (WA TAC) have been consulted in the development of the AMPAs. The AMPAs are subset of the performance evidence of each unit of competency. They are not in addition to the assessment requirements of the VET regulators.
We are responsible for the scheme and the appointment of final assessors. If a seafarer using an interim certificate of competency or even a full certificate of competency has an incident we will respond. Provided a registered training organisation complies with our procedures, they will not be held liable. The registered training organisation process may, however, be investigated for negligence.
If a RTO issues an interim certificate of competency on the basis of false information provided by the seafarer, the RTO is not responsible. The seafarer has signed a declaration that their sea service is true and correct, therefore the seafarer is responsible and if caught they will bear responsibility. The interim certificate of competency requires a final assessor to sign that the seafarer has 'made a statement that they have competed the required sea service'. The registered training organisation is not declaring anything more than this – they are not signing anything in regard to the quantity or validity of the seafarer’s sea service.
Registered training organisation accountability
AMSA can revoke an approval of a registered training organisation or any of their assessors.
Three strike rule:
- If an issue arises the registered training organisation will be notified of the issue and requested to investigate and take remedial action
- If the same issue arises a second time we will investigate and specify remedial action to be taken by the training organisation.
- If the issue arises for a third time approval of the assessor(s) involved will be revoked. If the problem is deemed to be systemic approval of the registered training organisation as a whole will be revoked.
Advertising approval to conduct AMPAs
It is a condition of approval as a final assessor that a registered training organisation not advertise the training and assessments it provides as being endorsed or approved in any way by AMSA. Training organisations may provide a link to the Final assessors for low complexity certificates of competency page on our website.
Credit for units completed previously
A registered training organisation may complete the AMPA on the basis of assessments previously conducted provided that:
- Until 30 June 2019 the assessment was conducted within the 12 months prior to the AMPA being signed off.
- From 1 July 2019 the assessment was conducted within the 6 months prior to the AMPA being signed off.
Where sign off is based on assessments previously conducted this must be recorded in the ‘Notes’ section for that particular unit with the date on which the original assessment was done. Evidence of the assessment must be retained with the registered training organisation’s copy of the AMPA. If the training organisation does not have the evidence then the AMPA must be done.
Once a seafarer has completed an AMPA for a unit of competency they do not have to re-do the AMPA if that unit of competency forms part of another qualification. This applies to all units of competency. For example, if a seafarer has completed the AMPA for MARJ001 Follow environmental work practices as part of their Coxswain Grade 2 they would not have to repeat the AMPA for this unit in Coxswain grade 1, or Marine engine driver grades 3 or 2. Evidence of prior completion of the AMPA for those units must be kept with the higher level AMPA.
If a seafarer holds a certificate of competency they will be deemed to have met the AMPA requirements for all units within the qualification for that certificate of competency. For example, a seafarer who holds a Coxswain grade 2 certificate would be deemed to have met the AMPA requirements for all units in the Coxswain grade 2 AMPA. If they went on to Coxswain grade 1 they would only be required to complete the AMPA for the four additional units required to complete the Coxswain grade 1 course.
This must be recorded on the AMPA in the ‘Notes’ section of each of the units concerned. The assessor should insert the name of the certificate of competency held. In the ‘Assessor comments’ on the cover of the AMPA the assessor should insert the name of the certificate of competency held, the certificate of competency number, date of issue, issuing authority and location. For example:
Holds Coxswain Grade 2 NC #12345 issued on 6/7/17 by RMS/MSQ/AMSA/etc in Sydney/Brisbane/etc.
A copy of the certificate of competency should be retained with the registered training organisation’s copy of the AMPA.
For credit transfer for a person who completed units before the introduction of AMPAs, ideally, the seafarer should contact the registered training organisation where they completed the units. That training organisation should be able to complete relevant sections of the AMPA based on their original assessment of the seafarer. This is provided it was within the previous 12 months (until 30 June 2019, within the previous 6 months from 1 July 2019) and evidence of these assessments is retained with the training organisation’s copy of the AMPA. If this is not possible then the training organisation which is doing the credit transfer will have to conduct the AMPA for those units.
For credit transfer for a seafarer who completed units after the introduction of AMPAs, the training organisation should supply the original of the AMPA to the seafarer who will then give this to the training organisation giving the credit transfer. The second training organisation will then conduct the assessment for the remaining units and complete the AMPA.
If a person has done their qualification using a previous version of the maritime training package (either TDM or MAR), they can do their AMPA. There is no maximum time after course completion when a person may complete an AMPA. The registered training organisation is responsible for credit transfer and RPL.
The AMPA assessment
If a task is designated as an individual tasks each person must perform the task as an individual. For example:
- All vessel handling tasks are individual tasks. You may have more than one seafarer on the vessel but every seafarer must perform each task individually.
- Ropework – there may be many seafarers all performing the task simultaneously but every seafarer must tie each knot.
For group tasks there must be maximum of five seafarers in the group. This does not mean you can only have five persons on the vessel at any time. It just means that there can only be five persons engaged in carrying out the specified task. There can be another group engaged in some other activity or awaiting their turn to perform the task.
All tasks specified as group tasks may be conducted as a group or individually.
Vessel requirements for conducting an AMPA
The vessel size specified in the AMPA is the minimum permitted. The maximum vessel size is not specified.
The vessel must be appropriate to the certificate of competency being assessed and fitted and equipped to a standard sufficient to enable the seafarer to complete the practical assessment tasks. The vessel must be able to carry the necessary equipment (that is, not too small) while at the same time allowing all required tasks to be performed by the seafarers (that is, not too large).
A further consideration in determining an appropriate vessel size is the size of vessel the seafarer will be permitted to operate once they receive their certificate of competency. For example, a coxswain AMPA must be completed on a vessel of greater than or equal to 5 metres. If a vessel of that size cannot be fitted and equipped with the required equipment then a larger vessel must be used. Each seafarer for a coxswain AMPA is required to conduct a number of manoeuvres on the vessel including berthing the vessel. A vessel of 12 metres may be considered appropriate for this, however, one would question whether a 24 metre vessel would be appropriate and even whether it would be wise to use a vessel of this size given the knowledge and experience of a seafarer at coxswain level.
The engineering components of the AMPAs may be carried out on a vessel or using an appropriate diesel engine (≥75 kW for MED3, ≥150 kW for MED2), propulsion plant, auxiliary systems and deck machinery ashore. If a workshop is being used in addition to the engine appropriate auxiliary systems must also be available such as fuel, steering, bilge, electrical etc.
There may be some instances where there are no vessels with inboard engines available in remote areas and a workshop is not a viable alternative as the training organisation is assessing in many locations, going to the seafarers rather than the seafarers coming to them. In this case, the registered training organisation must supply details of the situation and the reasons for their inability to meet the requirements of the AMPA. AMSA will consider the request, in conjunction with the relevant VET Regulator (as the AMPA requirements are also requirements of the MAR Maritime training package) on a case by case basis.
AMPAs for Coxswain Grade 2 and 1 may be conducted on a recreational vessel. However, registered training organisations should be aware that, other than for a person being trained on their own vessel, this would then make that vessel a domestic commercial vessel. As a seafarer is paying a fee to a registered training organisation the vessel is being used for commercial purposes so is no longer a recreational vessel. It is the registered training organisation’s responsibility to clarify this matter and ensure legislative requirements are met.
Task completion sign off and final sign off on the AMPA cover page may only be done by persons named on the registered training organisation’s Certificate of approval as a final assessor for that certificate of competency.
Tasks in the AMPA must be signed off on the day they were performed. If you are signing off on assessments previously conducted, you must record this in the notes section for that particular unit with the date on which the original assessment was done.
Other than for sign-off based on assessments conducted prior to 1 May 2018, tasks in the AMPA must be signed off by the assessor who observed their performance. Each task must be initialled and the date on which it was completed recorded. We will not accept AMPAs that appear to have been conducted in unreasonably short time frames; for example, all 14 units for Master <24 m completed in a single day. Where a number of tasks are assessed by a single assessor on the same day these tasks may be bracketed together and signed off as a group.
Where a task appears in more than one unit the seafarer is not required to complete the task twice. Both may be signed off on the basis of a single assessment. For example, anchoring a vessel is a task within MARK002/MARK008 Manoeuvre a vessel up to 24 metres within near coastal waters and in MARN003/MARN009 Perform seamanship operations on board a vessel up to 24 metres. A seafarer only needs to be assessed performing the anchoring task once.
Once all tasks for a particular unit have been completed satisfactorily the assessor who signs off the last task should insert their details (name, approval number, signature) and the date, tick whether the seafarer is competent or not, and add comments as appropriate.
Provided final sign off is not done until the course is completed tasks in the AMPA may be signed off progressively throughout the training. This is to comply with the NSCV Part D requirement that the final assessment is after meeting all other requirements for issue of a certificate of competency.
If a seafarer is not yet competent tasks should not be signed off and they should be given the opportunity to attempt the task again. This may be after they have had additional training or have been given a time period in which to practice their skills. If a seafarer’s performance is well below the required standard AMSA should be advised via email (SCSAdmin2@amsa.gov.au).
Once completed the registered training organisation must give the original of the AMPA to the seafarer and keep a copy for their records.
Partial completion of the AMPA
Partial completion of an AMPA may occur in the following circumstances:
- A seafarer completes only part of the qualification with a given training organisation.
- A seafarer completes only those units required for an endorsement to their certificate of competency. For example, a seafarer who wants a 500kW endorsement on their Coxswain Grade 2 would only complete the three engineering units in the Coxswain Grade 1 AMPA.
In either case a note of the reason for partial completion should be made on the cover page of the AMPA.
If a seafarer has a partially completed AMPA signed off by an assessor from another registered training organisation you should check the AMSA website or contact us to verify that the assessor is approved.
The shipboard safety units are included in all AMPAs. To be able to conduct AMPAs for the shipboard safety units you must be named on a registered training organisation’s Certificate of approval to conduct final assessments.
An AMPA is not required for the following units of competency if the unit was completed prior to 1 July 2018:
- MARF001/MARF027 Apply basic survival skills in the event of vessel abandonment.
- MARF002/MARF028 Follow procedures to minimise and fight fires on board a vessel.
- MARF004/MARF029 Meet work health and safety requirements.
- MARF005/MARF030 Survive at sea using survival craft.
If a seafarer holds a current and valid certificate of competency or Certificate of safety training issued by us they are not required to complete an AMPA for the above units regardless of when completed (pre or post 1 July).
This is recorded on the AMPA in the following way:
- If the seafarer holds a certificate of competency or a Certificate of safety training:
- In the ‘Notes’ section of the units concerned the assessor should insert the name of the certificate held. In the ‘Assessor comments’ on the cover of the AMPA the assessor should insert the name of the certificate held, the certificate number, date of issue, issuing authority and location. For example:
Holds Coxswain Grade 2 NC #12345 issued on dd/mm/yy by RMS/MSQ/AMSA/etc in Sydney/Brisbane/etc.
A copy of the certificate should be retained with the registered training organisation’s copy of the AMPA.
- If the seafarer does not hold a certificate:
- In the ‘Notes’ section of each of the units concerned the assessor should insert a note that the units have been completed prior to 1 July 2018. In the ‘Assessor comments’ on the cover of the AMPA the assessor should insert details of the evidence of the units having been completed prior to 1 July 2018. For example:
Holds Statement of Attainment #67890 issued on dd/mm/yy by registered training organisation name; or
Transcript issued on dd/mm/yy by registered training organisation name.
A copy of the evidence should be retained with the registered training organisation’s copy of the AMPA.
This applies regardless of which version of the training package was in force at the time.
If a seafarer does not wish to apply for a certificate of competency they are not required to complete an AMPA for these units. They should, however, be advised that if they decide to apply for a certificate of competency in the future an AMPA for these unit will be required and that this will most likely incur a significant charge and additional time.
When assessing the shipboard safety units alone, a registered training organisation that does not have the General purpose hand qualification on scope, may complete the shipboard safety units in any other AMPA for which they have approved assessors.
AMPA bunkering requirements
While we have designated these tasks as group assessments the bunkering operation may be performed by an individual as the registered training organisation is required to assess the task on an individual basis in order to meet the MAR Maritime training package and vocational education and training (VET) regulator requirements. The reason for making it a group task is the practicality of refuelling a vessel repeatedly and the number of sub-tasks involved.
Within each of the refuelling tasks there are sub-tasks, such as accessing and using personal protective equipment (PPE), selecting tools and equipment, measuring tank levels, establishing a safety boundary, deploying fire and spill prevention systems, opening and closing of valves, providing instructions prior to and during refuelling, and refuelling itself. All these tasks can be performed by individual members of the group. It would be expected that each of the group members would be evaluating and providing feedback to the others during performance of the task thereby demonstrating their competence in the task. The task may be repeated with the group members performing a different sub-task each time.
The AMPA requirement for bunkering if carried out on board a vessel could pose a risk to safety and/or the environment. As the task is performed under the supervision of an assessor it would be expected that should a risk to the environment be imminent the assessor would step in to prevent it occurring and cease the operation. If the assessor believes there is a risk to the environment the bunkering exercise may be completed after all preparation and checks are made without any transfer of fuel.
As per the Directions for registered training organisations, approved assessors shall ensure that:
3.1.11 when an assessor or candidate is confronted with a dangerous situation, or exposed to a risk of accident or injury, the assessment is terminated and rescheduled.
Specific task information
MARF001 Apply basic survival skills in the event of vessel abandonment
- The task Locate survivors in darkness must be completed by each individual in a pool or other safe water.
For this task, darkness may be simulated.
MARK001/MARK007 Handle a vessel up to 12 metres and MARK002/MARK008 Manoeuvre a vessel up to 24 metres within near coastal waters
- The task Handle a disabled or partially disabled vessel must be performed as a practical exercise by the individual on board a vessel operating in navigable waters.
The actual disability of the vessel may be simulated.
MARN003/MARN008 Perform seamanship operations on board a vessel up to 24 metres
The task anchor vessel according to depth and prevailing winds
- This must be performed individually on board a vessel operating in navigable waters.