by Penny Robins
NSW Maritime today issued a reminder to companies booking a charter boat that any vessel used for charter work must have a current survey certificate issued by NSW Maritime, and be operated by qualified crew.
Survey requirements demonstrate the vessel has passed safety and seaworthy checks and is suitable for cruises around our harbours and waterways.
NSW Maritime Chief Executive Steve Dunn said the warning followed an incident on New Year’s Eve.
'Three vessels had been chartered for use on Sydney Harbour and only at the last minute did it become clear that two out of three vessels were not in survey. One vessel operator was issued with an on-the-spot fine and one operator received a formal warning,' Mr Dunn said.
'NSW Maritime too often receives reports of vessels conducting informal charters, which is like a bus operating without a roadworthy certificate, and this just can’t be tolerated. Illegal charters are not safe, and are not insured.'
'In another recent incident, the Master of a vessel was found to have an expired licence, with investigations ongoing.'
Mr Dunn said the warning was to alert consumers about what to look for when hiring a charter vessel.
'If you're chartering a boat, it’s perfectly legitimate to ask to see the certificate of survey or the survey plate required to be displayed on the vessel, and to see the qualifications of the vessel Master who will be operating the boat,' he said.
NSW Maritime, the State boating regulator, requires charter vessels to undergo an annual inspection by NSW Maritime to assess the vessel’s condition, safety equipment and operation.
'A certificate of survey indicates that the vessel has been inspected and found to comply with the standards set out in NSW Maritime legislation,' Mr Dunn said.
'All charter vessels are required to comply with safety standards based on the type of vessel and the area of operation. They are also required to display a permit plate in a public place, indicating how many passengers are licensed to be carried on board.
'NSW Maritime conducts random checks of charter boats to ensure all of the correct safety requirements are in place.'
Commercial Vessels Association (NSW) Executive Officer Warwick Fairweather said it was a timely reminder that all vessels carrying more than eight persons have to comply with the Passenger Transport Act.
'The CVA and members commit to provide the best boating experience for customers by ensuring vessels comply with all current regulations for safety,' Mr Fairweather said.
There are approximately 250 commercial vessels on Sydney Harbour.