AMSA Aboard

December 2017

Message from the CEO—year in reviewAMSA CEO Mick Kinley

In 2017 AMSA continued its commitment to safe vessel operations, and ensuring the ongoing delivery of high quality marine pollution response and search and rescue services on behalf of the Australian community.

A big focus for this year was our continued efforts to be ready to take on full service delivery of the National System for Domestic Commercial Vessel Safety on 1 July 2018.

We recently received the welcome news that the Transport and Infrastructure Council had approved a $102.4 million package to support industry transition to the new arrangements.

This long-anticipated development is a big step toward a new era in maritime safety—which will see one set of rules, one set of fees and one regulator for domestic commercial vessels in Australia.

To support the expected increase in enquiries to AMSA from our domestic customers, we have increased our local presence around the country through our liaison officer network, as well as investing further in our dedicated customer contact team.

Our commitment to modernising our IT infrastructure and systems saw the launch of our new website in early December. This marks an important step in establishing an up-to-date digital presence for AMSA which will make it easier for our customers to find relevant and timely information so they can get on with their business.

Internationally we have continued to build our reputation as a world class maritime regulator, with Australia successfully elected to Category B of the Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

We now have the remarkable record of being on the IMO Council for almost 50 years and the first country to move from Category C to B. You can read more about the outcome in the joint statement issued by the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Infrastructure and Transport.

The next 12 months are shaping up to be the busiest in our history. The work we have done over 2017, and in previous years, means we are well positioned to meet both immediate and future challenges. We remain committed to our vision—safe and clean seas, saving lives—and to meeting the needs of our expanding stakeholder and customer group.

I thank our stakeholders and partner agencies for their support throughout the year, as well as our minister and staff; the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, and most importantly our AMSA staff for their sustained commitment and hard work throughout the year.

On behalf of our Chairman Stuart Richey and the AMSA Board, I wish you a safe and happy holiday season.

Mick Kinley

Safe and clean seas

Dynamic separation of cargoes

AMSA played a key role in amending the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code to further improve the safe carriage of cargoes and the safety of life at sea. In January 2015 the MV Bulk Jupiter—transporting 46,000 tonnes of aluminium ore (bauxite)—suffered a catastrophic list to starboard and capsized off the coast of Vung Tau, Vietnam. Only one crew member out of 19 survived. Industry and authorities suggested liquefaction of the cargo caused the capsize, however, new research conducted by the Global Bauxite Working Group (GBWG) suggests it may have been due to another moisture-related phenomenon— dynamic separation.

Australia is one of the largest shippers of bauxite globally and we took a lead role in consulting with the GBWG during its dynamic separation research. Together with Brazil and Malaysia—which also export bauxite in large quantities—we tabled the group’s research at the IMO in September 2017.

The research was endorsed and subsequent amendments will be made to the IMSBC Code. These amendments include reclassifying bauxite from a Group C (no known risks) to a Group A cargo—reflecting that under certain conditions it may present a risk due to moisture.

As a result of this, tests and schedules will apply to the loading and carriage of bauxite from May 2019. In Australia we have applied these conditions since September 2017. The below video on dynamic separation aims to warn mariners of the risk and warning signs.


Bulk shipping of liquid hydrogen

In January 2017 we signed a memorandum with Japan allowing liquid hydrogen to be shipped in bulk for the first time. Ship containment systems are being developed in Japan that will be capable of safely transporting liquid hydrogen in bulk from Australia to Japan as part of a pilot project scheduled to commence in 2020.

We worked with Japan to develop interim carriage requirements—these were agreed to at the IMO Maritime Safety Committee in November 2016.

Sulphur cap

From 1 January 2020 all ships and vessels operating in Australian waters will be required to use fuel which contains a maximum of 0.5 per cent sulphur, or employ an equivalent method to achieve the same result.

In July the IMO agreed to a scope of work to assist with the implementation of the new requirement. In preparation for further IMO discussions in February 2018, we are engaging with all interested stakeholders on proposed implementation measures. The new limit will reduce the impacts of sulphur emissions on the environment and human health, and benefit people living in port cities and coastal communities.

Read more about the sulphur cap implementation date—approved by the IMO in October 2016.

Oil spill exercise

In May we hosted a pollution training exercise offshore from Cairns on board our emergency towage vessel Coral Knight. The exercise simulated an oil spill at sea, and volunteers from our state and territory partners were tasked with launching a clean-up operation—shown in the below video.

Field experience like this is invaluable in a real-life situation. 

Saving lives

Improved search and rescue response times

Our Medium-altitude Earth Orbit Search and Rescue (MEOSAR) system for emergency distress beacon detection has now been operational for 16 months. The new technology improves search and rescue response times for distress beacon owners in emergency situations and is a great example of how new technology can improve safety outcomes.

In February this year, we received a det­ection of a distress beacon off the coast of Port Fairy in Victoria at 6.51 pm (AEDT)— the new MEOSAR system generated a location for the beacon within a minute of the first detection. Within three minutes of the detection we were able to speak with the emergency contact—because the beacon was registered—and confirmed the beacon belonged to a man fishing on his own in an eight-metre boat.

We tasked a Victorian Air Ambulance rescue helicopter which located the man clinging to his upturned vessel at 8.18 pm. The man was winched to safety and transported to Warrnambool.

The MEOSAR system provided a 56-minute advantage over the existing system which meant the rescue was completed by helicopter before nightfall. Without the MEOSAR data the helicopter would have been unable to conduct a winch operation at night, and a rescue vessel from Port Fairy would have proceeded to the location—adding considerable time to the rescue operation.

AMSA Challenger aircraft

Our rapid response capability has also improved through our Challenger 604 rescue jets. The Challengers have flown more than 120 search and rescue missions since the first of four jets officially entered service on 16 December 2016. Across these missions 270 people were rescued, 49 of whom were in imminent danger.

A suite of technology including high definition and infra-red cameras and visual anomaly detection systems have put these aircraft in a league of their own.

The Challengers have made an invaluable contribution to Australia’s search and rescue system in their first year of service—a contribution which will continue to grow over the next decade as they fulfil their lifesaving role.

Search and rescue awards

Congratulations to all the Australian search and Rescue Awards winners. The 2017 awards were presented to New South Wales Police Force Marine Area Command Nemesis crew, Victorian fisherman Wayne Kelly, and the Western Australia Department of Fire and Emergency Service RAC Rescue helicopter crew in November in Canberra.

You can read more about these three remarkable rescues on our website. A video of the rescue operation involving the Nemesis is below—featuring footage from our Challenger aircraft.

NAV18—register your interest in attendingNAV18 advertisement

AMSA will host NAV18 'Charting a new course: Navigation, people and technology' in May 2018.

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For more information, and to register, visit

AMSA on shore

2017-18 Corporate Plan

A selection of our key publications and news published in 2017


News and media releases

You can view all news articles and media releases on our website.

2017 marine notices

  • 2017/15 Transfer operations at sea and in coastal waters
  • 2017/14 Fitness for Duty
  • 2017/13 Ship accommodation ladders with unapproved secondary means of support arrangements
  • 2017/12 Operation and maintenance of rescue boat outboard motors
  • 2017/11 Sanctions
  • 2017/10 Automatic channel switching function on VHF marine radios with Digital Selective Calling (DSC) capability
  • 2017/09 Biofouling and in-water cleaning
  • 2017/08 Australia’s position on de-harmonising of the International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate in relation to Ballast Water Management Convention compliance
  • 2017/07 Guidance on ECDIS for ships calling at Australian ports
  • 2017/06 Official Nautical Charts
  • 2017/05 Regulations for Air Emissions from Ships
  • 2017/04 MARPOL Annex V Discharges
  • 2017/03 MARPOL Annex V Garbage Record Book
  • 2017/02 Global implementation of new sulphur content limit in fuel oil for all ships by 1 January 2020
  • 2017/01 Summary of Marine Notices

All marine notices are available to view on our website.

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