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  • 26 May 2021 3:07 PM | The Institute (Administrator)

    The Australasian Institute of Marine Surveyors has become a member of Shipping Australia.

    Shipping Australia is an industry association that represents Australia’s international ocean shipping industries. They have 29 full members, which includes ocean shipping lines and shipping agents, with over 40 corporate associate members, which generally provide services to the maritime industry in Australia. These services include port and terminal operations, pilotage, insurance, and legal advice among other things. Australia imports and exports the equivalent of about 8 million twenty-foot ocean shipping containers a year. 

    Shipping Australia members handle the vast majority of these containers. They also handle a considerable volume of our bulk commodities and vehicle import trades. Their members employ more than 3,000 Australians.

    AIMS CEO Susan Hull says "We are excited to be a part of the SAL team and to work with them to provide additional benefits and services to members and the shipping industry. The opportunities for working together to improve shipping standards is something that we will embrace fully. We hope to contribute positively across the many areas of common interest and particularly in the cargo sector. The team at SAL, with their shipping expertise, combined with the specialised skills of the marine survey sector bodes well for the industry at large and we welcome this alliance and look forward to a future of mutual co-operation".

    Shipping Australia CEO Melwyn Noronha commented, “We are delighted that the AIMS has decided to join Shipping Australia. Every new member adds to the strength of our association. The AIMS and its members bring additional skills, expert insight and marine surveying experience to Shipping Australia, which will be of benefit to all of our members. And, given the commonality of our interests in resolving the seafarer crisis, promoting safety and the protection of the marine environment, it is a natural fit. We look forward to engaging with the AIMS in a mutually beneficial relationship”.

  • 21 May 2021 1:35 PM | Susan Hull - CEO (Administrator)

    The AIMS newsletter for May 2021 is now out. Shipshape May 2021-compressed.pdf

    Great work from the team!

  • 06 May 2021 4:25 PM | The Institute (Administrator)

    More than 800 companies and organisations recognise that they have a shared responsibility based on their roles across the entire maritime value chain, and beyond, to ensure that the crew change crisis is resolved as soon as possible. In April, the Australasian Institute for Marine Surveyors signed the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change that defines four main actions to facilitate crew changes and keep global supply chains functioning:

    • Recognize seafarers as key workers and give them priority access to Covid-19 vaccines

    • Establish and implement gold standard health protocols based on existing best practice

    • Increase collaboration between ship operators and charterers to facilitate crew changes

    • Ensure air connectivity between key maritime hubs for seafarers

    “Seafarers play a significant role in the global race to halt the coronavirus pandemic by providing critical medical supplies to the world’s population, particularly in developing economies. They are crucial to millions of peoples’ wellbeing. We call on our peers, government bodies and other stakeholders to join us in our efforts to ensure that the rights and wellbeing of the frontline workers of global supply chains are respected,” says Graham Westgarth, Chairman of V. Group.

    The Neptune Declaration has been developed by a taskforce of stakeholders from across the maritime value chain including A. M. Nomikos, Cargill, Dorian LPG, GasLog, Global Maritime Forum, International Chamber of Shipping, International Maritime Employers’ Council, International Transport Workers’ Federation, ONE, Philippine Transmarine Carriers, Sustainable Shipping Initiative, Synergy Group, V. Group, and World Economic Forum.

    Learn more about the Neptune Declaration and see the full list of undersigning companies and organizations here:

  • 22 Feb 2021 10:54 AM | Susan Hull - CEO (Administrator)

    This months newsletter is a great read - especially the article A Shipping Puzzle by Kent Stewart (courtesy of Baird Publications). As a collective maritime group we need to highlight this travesty to Government as often as we can.

    Shipshape February 2021.pdf

  • 18 Jan 2021 3:11 PM | Susan Hull - CEO (Administrator)

    Each year the AIMS reviews our commitments to community and our social obligations and selects a charity or not for profit agency that we believe we can assist through promotion of its philosophy, awareness of its brand or by encouraging marine surveyors to participate or donate to their cause.

    This coming year we are going to work hard to raise awareness of the Tangaroa Blue Foundation and help to promote CLEAN SEAS!

    In 2021 our working theme is 'All hands on deck" and we are asking all marine surveyors to give a hand to promote this worthy cause.

    The AIMS will be donating $10 - $50 from each of our professional development courses as well as making sure that we have representatives at the Tangaroa Blue Foundation events wherever possible.

    Scheduled events for January are Four Mile Beach clean up, Beach Clean-up and Rockpool Exploration in Burleigh Heads and What's down our drains - A litter trap audit in Gladstone.

    Donations can be made directly to Tangaroa Blue via their website, turning up to help or taking a CPD course through the AIMS. Get on board marine surveyors - wherever and whenever you can - and lets promote CLEAN SEAS.

  • 21 Dec 2020 3:00 PM | Susan Hull - CEO (Administrator)

    Read our final newsletter of 2020 by following the link below.

    Shipshape October 2020.pdf

  • 25 Nov 2020 10:30 AM | The Institute (Administrator)

    A ship is a complicated thing. It has machinery and equipment for navigation and cargo handling, it generates its own power, carries its own fuel, feeds and accommodates its crew and most importantly it has a main engine to drive the ship from port to port and turn a profit. But a ship has to have a crew to make all these systems work. 

    A ship without a crew does none of these things, it becomes a floating liability. It doesn’t carry cargo and doesn’t earn an income. A ship that isn’t trading makes massive drains on the owner’s purse with things like layup costs, on-going maintenance, demurrage, insurance and survey fees-the costs keep mounting up. 

    There is estimated to be about 90, 000 ships trading worldwide (that’s roughly 2 million seafarers at sea at any one time) but at the moment they are more like prisons than ships. COVID 19 has trapped tens of thousands of seafarers on ships with very little hope of being relieved or getting home. A similar number are unable to work, to join the ships, thwarted by lockdown rules in countries around the world. Some crews have been trapped in this situation for over 12 months, unable to leave their ship (even in port) and unable to swing off on leave. Mental health issues like depression and despondency are on the rise. Suicides are prevalent but seldom reported. Many seafarers come from poor countries like the Philippines, Bangladesh and from eastern Europe. 

    One of the biggest marine training colleges in the world is in the Philippines. Each year, they turn out thousands of seafarers mainly from impoverished backgrounds, to pursue a career at sea. They’re young, keen and willing to work at sea to get ahead. They leave behind grinding poverty to get a better life at sea. Many turn out to be extremely good at their jobs. And they come very cheap. So cheap in fact, that the general public doesn't even recognize the part they play in getting their goods to them. They are the forgotten ones. But without them the ships can’t operate. 

    Australia is unique in that it is an island nation, totally dependent on shipping. In the tiny slice of world shipping, Australia hardly rates a mention. Our population is smaller than that of California or even cities like Shanghai. Yet because we are an island nation Australia sits near the top of the list of the world’s largest importers and exporters, all by sea. For example, our biggest export, iron ore, generates over $100 billion income a year (about one third of this is to China alone). The iron ore trade is crucial to Australia’s economic health. In fact, almost all of our trade is by sea. So, it’s not surprising that any disruption to the so-called “supply chain” will cause major disruptions to our way of life. 

    Already there’s been so much written about COVID 19 that it hardly needs more analysis by this author. Yet COVID 19 has impacted every single person’s life and unbeknown to most of us, our supply chain teeters on the brink of collapse. Recent incidents in Australia have highlighted this situation. Shipping, our link with the world trade, is in danger of being strangled.

    It all started with the Ruby Princess fiasco in Sydney which spread across Australia. The press covered the plight of COVID infected passengers in detail. Nothing was said about the crew. Then there was the cruise ship Artania in Fremantle. This ship incurred long delays, again the crew were ignored (unless, of course, if they were infected themselves). The livestock carriers Al-Kuwait and Al-Messiah, in Fremantle have had delays and disruptions from COVID 19. There was the Key Integrity in Geraldton and in Port Hedland we've had the crews of the Patricia Oldendorff and the Vega Dream taken ashore and isolated, leaving their ships undermanned and vulnerable. Bear in mind the cyclone season in the Pilbara is almost upon us. Ships of this size pose an enormous threat if they are undermanned if a cyclone hits the anchorage. 

    There are two critical issues here. One is ships in port with COVID affected crews and the other is ships at anchor in a cyclone prone region. The ships in port have extended stays tying up berths and incurring massive deep cleaning costs. A costly exercise. The ships at anchor are another issue entirely. They must steam away, they can’t be towed, so with a skeleton crew they proceed to sea. Then what?

    Putting aside our moral obligation to treat infected crews there is a real jurisdictional issue of who is responsible for these people. Little is heard from the ships’ managing agents even though they have an obligation to provide a safe workplace for their crews. It appears that the least of their worries are the crews on board. 

    At the same time the charterers are keeping their heads down. Their job is to charter the cheapest ship available for the job. The ships come with a crew, that’s the end of their legal obligation. There is no obligation to ensure the crews are COVID free. But who remembers the Ships of Shame Inquiries of the 1990s? Perhaps now is the time for the charterers to again come under scrutiny.

    In these crisis times the crews aren’t really considered. They are treated as a commodity, the cheapest ships get the work, irrespective of the possiblity (or in this case, probability) of exposure to the crew to COVID 19.

    The legal ramifications of who is ultimately responsible for the ships’ crews once they are in Australian waters pose another new and unresolved dilemma for “authorities”. I’m sure Pilbara Ports, responsible for the world’s largest bulk port have studied all the scenarios that they are faced with in Port Hedland, particularly during the cyclone season. But what is the answer? Do ships sail away short-handed or do they risk being driven ashore? A tough judgment call.  

    What happens to the remaining crew on board? Where do the ships go and how are they manned? All these problems ignore the human aspect of the crew’s welfare. What becomes of the crew members brought ashore for isolation? Are they sent home? Do they return to their ship after they are given the all-clear? When and how do they crew change? What becomes of the ship after leaving the anchorage? Does it still fall under the control of Australian "authorities" or are they back on the high seas? Are they in breach of their safe manning certificate? (yes). But this is an unforeseen emergency situation. How do flag, Class, insurers and the P&I Clubs view this situation? This is the situation that exists in Australia. Extrapolate this to a worldwide scenario.  

    Rightly or wrongly, the Commonwealth and State government authorities are acting with the best intentions for the safety of the seafarer’s health when they take them into isolation ashore. But our government’s primary focus is on the welfare of our immediate population. Who is looking at the long game? The seafarer’s welfare. Are they repatriated or are they prisoners of their ships? It depends on who makes the ultimate decisions for these crews. 

    They can’t turn to a union for support. The fledgling Philippines Seafarers Union, for example, hasn’t the wherewithal to deal with the complex problems of COVID 19 and the effects on their members. Probably no union in the world has experience with such a far reaching and complicated issue as COVID 19 and ships crews. There are the various Missions to Seafarers around the world but they can only deal with the consequences of this unique situation on a small scale in their individual ports. Surprisingly, ITLOS, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, doesn’t address crew welfare directly. Does the discretion of the ship’s master come into play? The local flag state authorities have limited jurisdictional clout. None look at the most integral part of the ship, its crew.

    I sought a legal opinion from one of Australia’s leading maritime lawyers. He said essentially each case is different and it comes down to a judgment call of the Master. But the Master will be under tremendous pressure from the Charterers, the Owners, Class and flag and insurers not to mention Port Authorities and health experts. The decision, when its finally made, doesn’t consider the forgotten ones- the crew members. 

    by Kent Stewart FAIMS

    Image: Alexey Seafarer, Adobe Stock

  • 19 Nov 2020 10:07 AM | Stacey Taylor - General Manager (Administrator)

    As grain exports begin for the season, with record crops expected, Surveyors must make sure their Fitness to Load Certificates meet Department of Agriculture requirements.   

    Our Certificate template is approved compliant and available for use.

    Cert of Fitness to Load Grain

  • 12 Nov 2020 3:36 PM | Stacey Taylor - General Manager (Administrator)

    Certified Commercial Marine Surveyors™

    Raising the standards for Marine Surveyors. Applications to become an AIMS Certified Commercial Marine Surveyor™ are now open until the 20th November 2020. For further details contact Stacey Taylor at

  • 30 Oct 2020 3:29 PM | Susan Hull - CEO (Administrator)

    AIMS wishes to congratulate full member Simon Gravenall on his appointment as Chief Executive Officer at Maritime Safety Authority Fiji.

    With an extensive history in the Maritime industry  including executive positions Simon's career has included positions in both the commercial and government  sectors both domestically and  internationally.

    Simon's drive for marine surveying standards has been a factor since the inception of the creation of the first accredited diploma in marine surveying in the world. A true watershed moment for the industry which could not have been achieved without the dedication of the national working committee which Simon also contributed to .

    AIMS is confident the combination of Simon's experience and marine surveyor background makes him well placed to lead MSAF.

    When asked Simon stated ‘ I am very humbled to accept this position and look forward to working with the AIMS as the peak industry body for all sectors of the Marine Surveying in the Australasian/Pacific region’

    Well done Simon and good luck in your role.


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