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Focused inspection campaign - safety of navigation outcomes report

Safety of Navigation – 1 August - 8 September 2021 

AMSA conducted a Safety of Navigation Focused Inspection Campaign (FIC) over the period 1 August to the 8 September 2021. 

The campaign focussed on: 

  1. the level of compliance with the safety of navigation requirements of International Conventions, and 
  2. The familiarity of the master and officers with their processes for ensuring safety of navigation.  

In conjunction with a standard port State control (PSC) inspection, specific questions relating to safety of navigation were asked by the inspectors. These questions, and a Marine Notice announcing the campaign, were promulgated on AMSA’s website prior to commencement of the FIC. 

The campaign was conducted as a core part of AMSA’s Compliance Plan for 2021/22 and was scheduled for two months with a target of 200 inspections. Lockdowns in various states, and restrictions implemented to protect AMSA staff and the Australian public meant that AMSA ceased the campaign early on 8 September 2021, after exceeding its target of 200 inspections.   


The FIC results showed that a significant number of ships failed to comply to basic navigation safety requirements. The results were as follows: 

  1. 278 ships were inspected during the FIC.  
  2. AMSA detained 21 ships during the period of the FIC, 7 of which were directly attributed to the safety of navigation FIC. This shows that 33.33% of all detentions during the FIC related to safety of navigation. This is extremely concerning. 

Key results of the FIC included: 

  1. 63 (23%) vessels were found to have bridge visibility obstructed by cargo gear or other obstructions forward of the beam. Not all observations resulted in a deficiency, with Inspectors noting that some obstructions were minor in nature and did not warrant the issuing of a deficiency, 
  2. 16 (6%) vessels had not executed and monitored their previous voyage in accordance with the approved passage plan, 
  3. 11 (4%) vessels SMSs did not contain guidance on best practice watchkeeping, including appropriate Under Keel Clearance (UKC) and safety contour settings, and  
  4. 9 (3%) vessels failed to properly appraise the passage plan prior to its execution, or have the passage plan available on both primary and back-up systems.  

Whilst some of the results above are low by percentage, the consequence of these deficiencies can be severe resulting in collision, grounding, and significant pollution incidents. 

The most positive results were that the majority of vessels are: 

  1. using up to date Official Electronic Nautical Charts (99%), 
  2. have the required inputs to ECDIS connected and configured correctly (Gyro, Continuous position fixing system and speed and distance measure device). (97%) 
  3. maintain a proper lookout in accordance with the COLREGs (98%), and  
  4. regularly testing navigation equipment to ensure its proper operation (98%). 

Our continued focus 

AMSA has recently promulgated a formal and educational guidance relating to safety of navigation. Masters and Watchkeepers are strongly encouraged to review these documents and take steps to improve safety of navigation onboard your ships. This information can be found on the AMSA Website: 

There are certain areas in Australia that are navigationally complex. Many of these areas are also recognised as Environmentally Sensitive Sea Areas and World Heritage Sites. It is for these reasons that AMSA takes safety of navigation so seriously and we will continue to focus on safety of navigation when ships visit Australian ports. We will be increasing our focus on safety of navigation in and around these areas.  

As a result of this campaign, AMSA intends to: 

  • Increase its focus on safety of navigation onboard ships that navigate in Australian waters and arrive at Australian ports, 
  • Undertake this campaign again in 12-18 months’ time. 

Safety of Navigation FIC Results 

Question Yes Yes% No No% N/A 
Has the passage plan been appraised to cover the whole of the voyage / berth to berth and readily available on primary and back-up navigation 269 97% 3%  
Does the SMS contain guidance on best practice watchkeeping, including appropriate Under Keel Clearance (UKC) and safety contour settings? 267 96% 11 4%  
Are official up to date navigational charts (ENCs) being used onboard for navigation? 275 99% 1%  
Has the previous voyage been executed and monitored in accordance with the plan? 262 94% 16 6%  
Can watchkeeping officers demonstrate familiarisation with ECDIS? 266 96% 4% 
On ships with ECDIS installed, can the alarm sound be demonstrated? 268 96% 5% 
Is the bridge visibility obstructed by cargo, cargo gear or other obstructions forward of the beam? 215 77% 63 23%  
Is there evidence of an effective lookout being maintained at all times in accordance with COLREGs? 273 98% 2%  
Is there a pilot transfer arrangement provided onboard in accordance SOLAS Chapter V, Reg 23? 271 97% 3%  
Are required inputs to ECDIS connected and configured correctly Gryo, Continuous position fixing system (CPS) and speed and distance measuring device? 271 97% 3%  
Is there evidence of periodic testing of navigation equipment during the watch? 272 98% 2%  


Last updated: 26 October 2023