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AMSA mandated practical assessments

General and practical information about the AMSA mandated practical assessment (AMPA), including how to perform the assessment.

Under Marine Order 505 (Certificates of competency – national law) 2022, a seafarer must pass a final assessment before AMSA can issue them a certificate of competency. The final assessment for low complexity certificates of competency is an AMSA mandated practical assessment (AMPA). This must be conducted by a registered training organisation (RTO) approved by AMSA. 

The AMPA assesses the applicant's operational skills and knowledge, and their knowledge of Australian maritime legislation. An AMPA can be started: 

  • during practical assessments within the timetable of a course
  • at the very end of a course
  • when the previous AMPA has expired, or
  • at any other time when advised by AMSA.

The time it takes to complete an AMPA will be determined by the study period of the RTO delivering a MAR Maritime Training Package course. 

The AMPA is valid for a period of 12 months after the date the assessor signs the AMPA cover page.

Applicants must complete the AMPA before being issued a certificate of competency for the low complexity CoCs mentioned below. To find the AMPA for the CoC you wish to be assessed for please click on the appropriate link below:  

If the applicant hasn't applied for a certificate of competency before their AMPA expires, they need to complete a new AMPA before they can lodge an application. 

Please note that completing an AMPA for the General Purpose Hand (GPH) certificate is not required but may provide 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 again for those units of competency again for another certificate of competency, provided it is within the 12 month period of the AMPAs validity. 

For high complexity certificates of competency, the final assessment will be an oral examination conducted by an AMSA examiner.

Sea service requirement

The AMPA assesses competency, so a seafarer does not have to have completed sea service to undertake their AMPA. They will need to have completed the required sea service within 12 months of completing the AMPA before applying for a certificate of competency or complete another AMPA at additional cost. 

Credit for previously completed units

An RTO can complete the AMPA based on assessments that another RTO conducted. This must be recorded and dated in the 'Notes' sections for that unit on an AMPA form. 

An AMPA for a certificate of competency shows that a seafarer has completed all units for that certificate.

An AMPA that records completion of a unit of competency can be used as credit towards another qualification. This applies to all units of competency. 

For example, if a seafarer has completed the AMPA for Follow environmental work practices as part of their Coxswain Grade 2, they needn't repeat the AMPA for this unit in another competency (e.g. Coxswain Grade 1, or Marine engine driver grades 3 or 2) if the original assessment was completed within 12 months of the second AMPA assessment or if they have a current AMSA CoC that has covered that unit and RPL was granted by the RTO. 

The AMPA must show evidence that the seafarer completed these units by recording it in the 'Notes' section of each of the units concerned. On the cover of the AMPA they should list the: 

  • name of the certificate of competency
  • certificate of competency number
  • date of issue, and
  • 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.

The RTO should keep a copy of the certificate of competency along with their copy of the AMPA.

If a seafarer completed MAR training package units at one RTO  and wants to transfer credit for prior learning to another RTO, the new RTO they are transferring credit to should conduct their assessment and then complete their AMPA. 

If a person has done their course of study using a previous version of a maritime training package (such as TDM), they can do their AMPA. There is no maximum time after course completion when a person may complete an AMPA. 

The AMPA 

Tasks must be conducted by an individual or a group as specified in the AMPA. For example:

  • all vessel handling tasks are individual tasks. You can have more than one seafarer on the vessel during the assessment, but every seafarer must perform each task individually
  • ropework tasks can be assessed simultaneously, but every seafarer must tie each knot. 

Group tasks allow a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 5 seafarers in the group for the purpose of the assessment. 

Requirements for conducting an AMPA

Tasks must be conducted in person (face to face) on Australian Domestic Commercial Vessels or State / Territory registered Australian Recreational vessels (see below) in Australian inland or near coastal waters. For RTOs wishing to conduct AMPAs using any other vessel type or in an area outside of Australian waters, the RTO will need to formally request permission in writing, with as much detail as possible, and sent to the following email: Nearcoastal.RTO@amsa.gov.au

Vessel Size

The AMPA will specify the minimum permitted vessel size. There is no specified maximum vessel size. 

The AMPA must be undertaken on a vessel that:

  • can carry the necessary equipment
  • allows the seafarer to perform all the required tasks 
  • is comparable to the vessel that the seafarer will operate when 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. A larger vessel can be used if there is no appropriately equipped vessel of that size available. 

Engine requirements

The AMPA engineering components can be carried out on a vessel, or ashore or using an appropriate diesel engine (≥75 kW for MED3, ≥150 kW for MED2), propulsion plant, auxiliary systems and deck machinery. If using a workshop in addition to the engine, appropriate auxiliary systems must also be available such as fuel, steering, bilge, electrical etc.

If an appropriate vessel or workshop is not available, the RTO must advise AMSA why these components of the AMPA cannot be completed. AMSA will then consider if waiving this requirement is appropriate on a case by case basis. 

Recreational vessels

AMPAs for Coxswain Grade 2 and 1 can be conducted on a recreational vessel where the seafarer owns the vessel. 

Task completion

Only a final assessor can sign off each task and the AMPA cover page for the certificate of competency.

You must sign off tasks in the AMPA on the day they were performed. If you are signing off on previously conducted assessments, you must record this in the unit's 'Notes' section with the date of the original assessment. 

Tasks in the AMPA must be initialled and dated by the assessor who observed the task. Assessors must allow realistic time frames for completing tasks. For example, a seafarer cannot complete all 14 units for Master <24 m in a single day. We will not accept AMPAs that have been conducted in unreasonably short time frames. 

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. For example, anchoring a vessel is a task within  Manoeuvre a vessel up to 24 metres within near coastal waters and in  Perform seamanship operations on board a vessel up to 24 metres. You only need to assess a seafarer performing the anchoring task once. 

Tasks in the AMPA can be assessed progressively, so long as final sign off on the cover page is not done until the course is completed, and final assessment has been undertaken. 

A seafarer who is not assessed as competent can attempt the task again after additional training or time to practice their skills. If a seafarer's performance is well below the required standard, you should advise they return to complete more theory and practical training before reassessment. If you have any concerns you may contact AMSA via email Nearcoastal.RTO@amsa.gov.au.

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 an RTO
  • 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 3 engineering units in the Coxswain Grade 1 AMPA.

You should make a note of the reason for partial completion on the cover page of the AMPA and date it. The AMPA needs to be completed in a twelve-month timeframe from the first assessment task. Once the AMPA is completed it then has 12 months of validity for submission to AMSA (should all the tasks be successfully completed) from the date of the final assessment - signed on the cover page.

If a seafarer has a partially completed AMPA signed off by an assessor from another registered training organisation completed within the last 12 months, you should check the AMSA website or contact us to verify that the assessor is approved and what may be accepted. 

Shipboard safety

The shipboard safety units are included in all AMPAs. You must be a certified final assessor with an RTO to be able to conduct AMPAs for the shipboard safety units. 

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.

A seafarer who holds a current and valid certificate of competency or certificate of safety training is not required to complete an AMPA for the units listed above, regardless of when completed (pre or post 1 July 2018). In this case, the assessor should insert the name of the certificate held in the unit's 'Notes' section. In the 'Assessor comments' on the cover of the AMPA, they 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.

The RTO should retain a copy of the certificate with their copy of the AMPA. 

If the seafarer does not hold a certificate, the assessor should mark in the unit's 'Notes' section that the units were completed before 1 July 2018, along with details of the evidence. 

For example:

Holds Statement of Attainment #67890 issued on dd/mm/yyyy by registered training organisation name; or

Transcript issued on dd/mm/yyyy by registered training organisation name.

The RTO should retain a copy of the evidence with their copy of the AMPA. The shipboard safety units can be assessed separately to a certificate of competency. An RTO that does not have the General Purpose Hand qualification on scope, can complete the shipboard safety units in any other AMPA they are approved to assess. 

AMPA bunkering requirements

The bunkering operation is designated as a group task for practical reasons, but under the MAR Maritime training package it must be assessed on an individual basis. The assessment includes several 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. Each of these tasks can be performed by individuals, with other group members evaluating and providing feedback during performance of the task. The assessment 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. The supervising assessor can step in to prevent such a hazard or can decide to assess the bunkering exercise without actual transfer of fuel. 

As per the Directions for RTOs, 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

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.

Handle a vessel up to 12 metres and 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 onboard a vessel operating in navigable waters.

The actual disability of the vessel may be simulated.

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.

Last updated: 

Thursday 5 January 2023