The Australian Marine Safety Authority (AMSA) has made changes to the National Standard for Commercial Vessels (NSCV) from the 1st of January 2019. In this new legislation float-free Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) will be mandatory on certain types of domestic commercial vessels. A 2-year transition period applies, so these changes will become mandatory from the 1st of January 2021.
A float-free EPIRB is a water-activated EPIRB that is situated within a float-free bracket. This bracket can activate itself and float feely to the surface, it activates when a vessel capsizes and sinks to a depth of 1 to 4 metres (depending on make and model). These float-free models can also be manually removed from the bracket and activated without being submerged in water.
This legislation will make float-free EPIRBs mandatory for the following vessel classes:
- All Class 1 (Passenger Vessels with 13+ passengers), Class 2 (Non-Passenger Vessels with up to 12 passengers) and Class 3 (Fishing Vessels) vessels that are equal or greater than 12m in length and operating beyond 2 nautical miles from land.
- All Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 vessels that are less than 12 metres in length and do not have level flotation that operate in offshore waters (B waters) or restricted offshore (C waters).
- Class 4 (Hire and Drive vessels for recreational purposes) vessels that are equal to or greater than 12 metres that operate in C waters.
- Class 4 vessels that are less than 12 metres and do not have level floatation that operate in smooth and partially smooth waters (D and E Waters).
All other classes are not affected by the legislation and can continue using the same type of EPIRB they are currently required to have, but can opt for a float-free EPIRB.
For further information on these changes and how they might affect you go to the AMSA website at www.amsa.gov.au/safety-navigation/distress-beacons/mandatory-float-free-epirbs