Focused inspection campaign—float-free EPIRBs

We will undertake a focused inspection campaign (FIC) on float-free EPIRB requirements on domestic commercial vessels over the period 1 February to 30 April 2021.

The FIC focusses on float-free EPIRB carriage requirements implemented through recent changes to the National Standard for Commercial Vessels (NSCV). These new requirements result from a number of fatal incidents in Australia where lives may have been saved if a float-free EPIRB was fitted to the vessel.

The purpose of the FIC is to check that float-free EPIRBs are carried and fitted according to our new requirements. This helps prevent loss of life in an emergency.


The FIC will be carried out on domestic commercial vessels that are required by the NSCV to be fitted with a float-free EPIRB from 1 January 2021. (This does not include domestic commercial vessels in A or B extended survey which are regulated by Marine Order 27).Passenger (class 1), non-passenger (class 2) and fishing (class 3) vessels, operating more than two nautical miles from land, are required to carry a float-free EPIRB as shown in the table below (NSCV sub-section C7B clause 4.3.1):

Vessel length and flotationWhen operating >2nm from land inEPIRB type required
≥12mAny watersFloat-free
<12m with level flotationAny watersAny that meet AS/NZS 4280.1

≥7.5m to <12m

without level flotation

B or C watersFloat-free
D or E watersAny that meet AS/NZS 4280.1

<7.5m without level flotation


B or C waters

Option 1) Float-free


Option 2) If all persons on board are wearing a lifejacket – a GNSS equipped, EPIRB that meets AS/NZS 4280.1

D or E waters Any that meet AS/NZS 4280.1

Note: These requirements apply to new, existing (grandfathered), and transitional vessels, including those operating under the following exemptions: 

a. Exemption 02 Marine Safety (Certificates of survey) 
b. Exemption 40 Marine Safety (Class C restricted operations) 

Leisure craft of class 4C and non-survey vessels of class 2C, 3C and 4C operating more than two nautical miles from land are required to carry a float-free EPIRB as shown below:

(a) vessels ≥12 m long 

(b) vessels ≥7.5 m to <12 m long that do not meet level flotation criteria 

(c) vessels <7.5 m that do not meet level flotation criteria, unless all persons on the vessel are wearing a lifejacket and the EPIRB is GNSS equipped.


  • NSCV, Part F2, Schedule 2, Table 11 (for leisure craft of category 4C).
  • NSCV, Part G, Schedule 1 (for non-survey vessels of category 2C, 3C and 4C)

Inspection process

Marine inspectors will undertake this FIC in conjunction with normal DCV inspection processes. 

Where an inspector finds a deficiency in relation to the attached checklist, the inspector will discuss this with the person in charge of the DCV with a view to ensuring the vessel is brought into compliance.

Outcome of the FIC

The results of the FIC will be analysed and a report prepared. This report will be published on the AMSA website.

Inspection checklist

Below is a sample of the focused inspection campaign checklist that our Marine Inspectors use when they visit your vessel.

1Does the DCV have a float-free EPIRB?   
2Is the EPIRB registered with AMSA?   
3Is the float-free EPIRB located in a position where it can float free in the event of the DCV foundering?   
4Is the float-free EPIRB mounted in accordance with the EPIRB manufacturer instructions?   
5Is the EPIRB battery within date?   
6Is the hydrostatic release unit (HRU) within date?   
7Can the EPIRB be accessed in an emergency if manual activation is required?   
8Are crew on board familiar with the operation and testing of the EPIRB?   
Last updated: 19 January 2021