Min requirements for small vessels in OPL supply launches in South African coastal waters kick in: SAMSA

Pretoria: 08 March 2022

Vessels with a gross registered tonnage (GRT) of less than 25 operating along South Africa’s coastline for Off Port Limits (OPL) services providers will have six (6) months from 03 March 2022 to subject themselves to a formal vessel survey by the South African Maritime Safety Authority, the agency has announced.

Similarly, vessels of under 25 GRT currently under construction and designated for OPL services within the same South African oceans territorial space will have a grace period of six (6) months to comply with newly published requirements contained in a Marine Notice (MN 03-22 (S+P) released on Thursday last week, said SAMSA.

The Marine Notice in question, obtainable freely from the agency’s website, according to SAMSA; intends to give guidance and standardise the requirements for OPL launches along the South African coast by providing an overview of the requirements of design, construction, operation and manning of Off Port Limit (OPL) launch vessels of less than 25 GRT (Small Vessels).”

A small vessel under construction. (SAMSA File Photo)

Citing the Merchant Shipping National Small Vessels Safety Regulations 2007, and specifically regulations 6.1 (a to c) and 14 (1) and (2) (a), the SAMSA Marine Notice states that vessels of the category serving as OPL launches “…must be constructed of suitable material of good quality..(and whereby its design)  must provide a sufficient reserve of positive stability to prevent capsizing when carrying a heavy load….”

These also provide for manning requirements that include that owners of such vessels “…must ensure that the vessel is operated by or under the constant guidance of a skipper who is physically able and of sound mental health…” along with other bare minimum necessities such as requisite training evidenced by a Certificate of Competence issued by a certified authority.

In this regard, in terms of the Marine Notice, the general requirement effective 30 days from publication of the Marine Notice last week would be that:

  1. An OPL launch shall always be manned by a qualified Skipper and a minimum of two (2) competent crew members. A competent crewmember shall be a person that has completed induction and SAMSA recommends that the crewmember is also the holder of a Personal Survival Training and Able Seafarer Deck course certificate of attendance.
  2. Records of safety drills (as per the requirements of the MS NSVR 2007 as amended), including the recovery of a Man Overboard shall be readily available for inspection.
  3. The duties of each crewmember shall be clearly defined and displayed on board

The Marine Notice further outlines minimum manning requirements for varied services inclusive of medical incidents where a helicopter is not used, OPL with laden tankers, crew and cargo transfers, marine pollutants (as regulated by the Marine Pollution [Control and Civil Liability Act 6 of 1981), and related matters.

The Marine Notice is obtainable from the SAMSA website.

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