The New Float Free EPIRB Legislation and What it Could Mean for You

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

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