Greetings from the Pacific 2012 Maritime Defence Conference in Sydney, where I am sitting in on the "Emergencies in the Maritime Environment" session. Lloyd Binks, Manager Policy
Co-ordination - Regulatory Affairs and Reform, at the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) discussed the new "Single National Maritime Jurisdiction". In this the topic of education and training for afters came up, with a national standard for certification being introduced. "Competency based" standards, rather than requiring personnel to undertake a course, they have to show they are competent. If they already know what is needed, then they do not need to do the course, just the test. The test need
Alan Steber, Steber International, in "Industry - Commercial Builders Perspective" pointed out that many small vessels need to be multi-purpose. Both government and commercial vessels will be used for routine work and also for emergency rescue purposes. In remote island communities the official government vessels and also commercial charter boats are used for routine transport of members of the public and goods, as well as being used for search and rescue. So the boats need to be equipped for dual functions and also be designed with redundancy built in so they can operate away from port for extended periods.
There are benefits for ship builders and commercial purchasers in equipping their ships for rescue, as they can then qualify for exemption from some government charges. However, Alan pointed out that the builder has to keep detailed records to show that they have met the required standards and been signed off by independent assessors. He suggested this be done even for pleasure craft, so that the builder has the option for offering them for rescue purposes later (and to meet general liability). One example Ian provided was provision for ballistic panels in pleasure craft to protect wealthy clients. The builder needs to also be able to provide a second owner of a boat with owner's manual and documentation.
In answer to an audience question on what were the most important new developments with standards, Alan nominated new requirements for watertight compartments and firewalls for commercial vessels to higher standards. He held up a sample of a lightweight metal-composite fireproof panel. He also discussed new fire resistant plastics, which will require special construction techniques.