Section 3: Survey and inspection process—periodic survey

The process to follow when you are conducting a periodic survey.

You must follow this process if you do not have your own ISO 9001 (or equivalent) quality management system (QMS). If you have your own QMS, you can build this process into your QMS.

Conducting a survey

As much as possible, you are to:

  • detect and assess defects, wear, damage or variations to the vessel that may affect its ability to comply with the applicable standards
  • determine what, if any, repair and rectification work is required in order for these items to be put right
  • communicate to the person(s) responsible for the maintenance and operation of the vessel the outcomes of the survey including any repair and / or rectification work required

Examination, verification, testing and trials

Examinations, verifications, tests or trials for a given year in the survey cycle are provided in National Standard for Administration of Marine Safety (NSAMS) 4 (for non-grandfathered vessels). These are to be carried out to the extent necessary for you to be satisfied that the item being surveyed complies with the applicable standard.

We provide instructions to surveyors to clarify the manner in which tests and trials should be carried out. These instructions are our preferred way for you to conduct a particular type of survey.

Lightship verification

Where NSAMS 4 requires a periodic lightship verification, for vessels 12 metres or greater the survey should be conducted using the inclining experiment report.

For vessels less than 12 metres in length, the lightship survey may be in the form of a declaration signed by the owner or the master of the vessel and an examination of the vessel for lightship modifications or additions by you. The declaration is to include:

  • in table format, all the changes made to the vessel since the last inclining or practical stability test
  • a description of each change including weight and centre of gravity information
  • any available relevant information such as photographs, sketches, or similar

If the variation in lightship displacement or the variation in centre of gravity may have a negative impact on the stability of the vessel, the owner must demonstrate that the vessel stability remains adequate to perform its intended operation.

This may require the vessel’s re-assessment against the relevant stability criteria.

Load line survey

Where applicable, load line surveys are to be carried out in accordance with the periodic survey schedule specified in NSAMS 4.

Safety Management System (SMS)

You are expected to record the presence or otherwise of an SMS at periodic survey. The content of the SMS is not a surveyable item.

Periodic survey process

The steps involved in undertaking a periodic survey would likely include:

  • Receive a request for survey:
    • receive request for periodic survey from vessel owner / master
    • acknowledge request and arrange suitable date / time / location / type of survey
    • capture the request via your business processes and procedures
    • advise owner / master of any requirements for vessel at survey
  • Before conducting the survey:
    • review vessel file, existing certificate of survey, certificate of operation and recent survey reports
    • access My Boat to ascertain equipment requirements for the type of vessel and its operating area
    • collect appropriate survey equipment for type of survey being conducted
    • collect PPE
    • consider WHS issues that may arise for type of survey and vessel being surveyed (confined spaces, slips trip and falls or similar)
    • ensure Surveyor ID card is carried
  • On arrival at site:
    • conduct visual site inspection prior to undertaking survey, observe appropriate practices and PPE and collect selected tools
    • identify and greet client—issue warning to all persons at the worksite that you will be opening voids and hatches and for persons to be cautious
    • identify and photograph vessel
    • conduct WHS briefing with client
    • undertake risk assessment—identify, evaluate and mitigate risks, where required undertake additional confined space risk assessment process / procedures
    • if confined spaces are encountered, those parts of the survey are to be conducted with the appropriate permits, equipment, resources and persons on board
  • Conduct survey:
    • constantly monitor the workplace and reassess as circumstances change
    • conduct survey inspection
    • document photographic evidence where appropriate
    • review previous issues / observations raised from past inspections to determine if any outstanding issues are to be re-addressed
    • if issues are existing, review and close out if appropriate
    • constantly monitor the workplace and reassess as circumstances change
    • debrief client, provide copy of Survey activity report, if required
    • assist client in addressing any issues raised during the survey inspection
    • arrange any subsequent visits that may need to be conducted to review any rectifications
  • Upon return to your place of business
    • update your vessel files with copies of Survey recommendation and Survey activity report, and any other documentation that may have been issued
    • maintain all photographic evidence with the vessel file
    • once all deficiencies are rectified, submit Survey Recommendations to the relevant marine safety agency

A typical periodic survey would cover the following aspects:

Grandfathered vessels

Grandfathering is an arrangement where existing approvals, requirements or conditions, such as design and construction standards, are automatically recognised under the national law, without the need for further action by vessel owners. Grandfathering arrangements for vessels continue as long as the vessel does not change its operations, is not significantly modified and does not seek to move its geographic area of operation.

Current vessel specific design and construction arrangements

The existing design and construction standards applied to an existing vessel will continue to apply to that vessel. Existing vessels with exemptions from the USL Code or local equivalent solutions to the NSCV, and pre-USL Code vessels will be able to take advantage of the grandfathered design and construction standards provided the vessel does not change operations, is not modified and does not move its geographic area of operation.

Current vessel specific survey arrangements

Vessels under grandfathering arrangements may be surveyed against either the:

  • survey arrangement that applied to their vessel before the introduction of the national system
  • NSAMS 4

If an owner has chosen to use NSAMS as their survey regime, it is important to remember that certain aspects of the survey will not differ from the system used before the introduction of the national system. For example, where a vessel is due for its 5-year renewal survey, the lightship test will be the same test the vessel previously required (i.e. if it did not need lightship verification under its old certificate then it is not needed under its new certificate).

You should confirm that a vessel and its safety equipment comply with the requirements set out in that vessel’s certificate of survey, or in any other pre-national system requirements.

Changes to a grandfathered vessel

Generally, it is the owner's responsibility to inform us or a marine safety agency if they intend to make changes to their vessel, where it operates or the type of operation the vessel is used for. However, if you have reason to believe that the vessel has changed or the conditions of grandfathering may no longer apply, you should either:

  • inform the owner accordingly so they can take the matter to AMSA or a marine safety agency for review and consideration
  • directly inform AMSA or a marine safety agency

As the review is risk based, it allows for every individual situation to be considered (at which point your input may be requested). This may result in the vessel continuing as it was with conditions added to the certificate of survey and / or certificate of operation, or in some cases losing its grandfathered arrangements.

Accessing previous survey records

You may need copies of previous surveys to assist with conducting a vessel survey. Either you or the owner of the vessel are able to lodge an Information release authorisation form with the marine safety agency where the vessel’s most recent survey records are maintained to assist with the survey.

Last updated: 5 March 2018
Last reviewed: 5 March 2018