Maritime Ship Stations - Certificates of Proficiency | ACMA

Maritime Ship Stations - Certificates of Proficiency

Introduction

This information paper provides details about the administrative arrangements applicable to Marine Operator's Certificates of Proficiency for the purpose of operating maritime ship stations.

The Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Radcomm Act), through the Radiocommunications Licence Conditions (Maritime Ship Licence) Determination 2015 requires that operators of VHF and MF/HF maritime ship stations are appropriately qualified to operate the stations. This means that operators of maritime ship stations, other than those operating solely on 27 MHz frequencies,  are required to hold a relevant Australian maritime radio operator's certificate of proficiency or an equivalent overseas qualification.

Note: Operators of VHF marine radios who only operate within Australian Territorial Waters (within 12 nautical miles of the coast) can apply for the Australian Waters Qualification (AWQ) instead of the higher level certificates.  Information on the AWQ is available here.

Currently five different certificates of proficiency and one certificate of endorsement are being issued to the operators of maritime ship stations. They are:

  1. Long Range Operator Certificate of Proficiency (LROCP);
  2. Short Range Operator Certificate of Proficiency (SROCP);
  3. GMDSS General Operator's Certificate of Proficiency (GOCP);
  4. GMDSS First-Class Radio Electronic Certificate (1st-Class REC);
  5. GMDSS Second-Class Radio Electronic Certificate (2nd-Class REC); and
  6. Marine Satellite Communications Endorsement (Satcom).

Note: GMDSS means Global Maritime Distress and Safety System.

The Australian Maritime College (AMC) acts as the ACMA delegate in providing marine radio certificate services under the Radcomm Act . The AMC issues the LROCP, SROCP and Satcom. It also approves invigilators to conduct examinations, on its behalf, for these qualifications. Except in the case of Satcom, examinations may also be undertaken by the AMC. Examinations for Satcom can only be held after relevant training by an educational organisation.

The AMC also conducts supported marine examinations for candidates who either produce a medical certificate, or have a demonstrated disability that, in either case, indicates that participation in a routine examination is not possible.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is responsible for the issue of the GOCP and the 1st- and 2nd-Class RECs. AMSA has accredited a number of educational institutions to conduct examinations to test candidates at the conclusion of a relevant course of instruction. Any person interested in obtaining a GOCP or a 1st- or 2nd-Class REC should contact AMSA or email marine.qualifications@amsa.gov.au.

Holders of other relevant marine radio certificates of proficiency, such as the Restricted Radiotelephony Operator's Certificate of Proficiency (RROCP) and the Third Class Commercial Operator's Certificate of Proficiency (3rd COCP), will continue to be legally qualified. However, persons holding these qualifications may need to obtain Satcom if operating certain types of marine satellite equipment.

Operator's Qualifications

Operators of ship stations must possess a certificate of proficiency issued in accordance with the Radcomm Act and ITU Regulations or a certificate considered to be of an equivalent or higher standard. The minimum requirements are shown in the following table.

Table 1 - Maritime Certificates of Proficiency

Equipment carried on vessel

Minimum operator qualification

VHF, MF/HF and Inmarsat satellite radiocommunications equipment fitted in accordance with the requirement of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention and the Australian Navigation Act 2012

GOCP

VHF marine radiotelephony ONLY *

LROCP
or
SROCP

VHF marine radiotelephony *
plus
MF/HF marine radiotelephony *

LROCP

VHF marine radiotelephony *
plus
Inmarsat B or C satellite communications

LROCP with satellite endorsement
or
SROCP with satellite endorsement

MF/HF marine radiotelephony * plus Inmarsat B or C satellite equipment
or
VHF marine radiotelephony * plus MF/HF marine radiotelephony * plus Inmarsat B or C satellite equipment

LROCP with satellite endorsement

Inmarsat B or C satellite equipment ONLY

LROCP with satellite endorsement
or
SROCP with satellite endorsement

Vessels only employing 27 MHz marine radio commercial equipment

No qualification is required

* With or without digital selective calling (DSC) facilities.

Notes:

  1. The MROCP, MROVCP or the 3rd COCP may be held in lieu of the LROCP and SROCP as appropriate.
  2. Satcom is not required for operators using Inmarsat-M equipment or Inmarsat-C equipment that only supports the operation of a Vessel Monitoring System.

Operators not requiring qualifications

While a marine radio certificate of proficiency is not required to operate ship stations only employing 27 MHz marine radio equipment, it is recommended that operators of such stations obtain at least the Australian Waters qualification, in order that they may use their radios competently in emergencies.

Overseas operators

Persons currently holding overseas qualifications with a recognised Australian equivalent are not required to hold an Australian certificate of proficiency to legally operate a maritime ship station. The list of overseas qualifications which are recognised in Australia are included as a schedule in the Radiocommunications (Qualified Operators) Determination 2016.

Aircraft/Aeronautical operator's certificates of proficiency

Aircraft radio operators' certificates were once separately issued by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and its predecessors. Currently, testing of a person's proficiency in aeronautical radiocommunications operation forms part of the examination procedure for attaining a pilot's licence. Neither superseded aircraft radio operators' certificates, nor a pilot's licence, are recognised as being equivalent to any marine radio operator certificate.

Examination requirements

Depending on the equipment fitted, the LROCP or SROCP are the usual qualifications for operators of small craft. The AMC or approved invigilators conduct examinations for the LROCP and SROCP certificates to assess the candidate's knowledge of distress and safety procedures and other matters associated with maritime communications. In respect of AMC examinations, the AMC may conduct the examinations itself or arrange for invigilators to conduct the examinations on its behalf. The Marine Radio Operators Handbook, available from the Australian Maritime College (AMC), provides a study guide for candidates undertaking such examination.

In the case of examinations organised by the AMC or using AMC examination papers, a pass rate of 70% is required before a certificate may be issued. Examinations for Satcom are only conducted by organisations having appropriate equipment. The AMC does not conduct these examinations.

Syllabus for LROCP, SROCP and Satcom

The AMC manages the syllabus for the LROCP, SROCP and Satcom. A copy of each syllabus is available on the AMC website and in the Marine Radio Operator's Handbook.

Marine Radio Operators Handbooks

The Marine Radio Operators Handbook and Marine VHF Radio Operators Handbook [the Handbooks] are comprehensive guides to marine communications and operating procedures. It includes information about distress and safety communications, digital selective calling, search and rescue, coast stations, care and maintenance of equipment, travelling overseas and much more. The Handbooks also provide the syllabi for the LROCP, SROCP and Satellite Endorsement examinations.

The Marine VHF Radio Operators Handbook is a smaller version of the Marine Radio Operators Handbook which concentrates on issues of relevant to operators of VHF marine radios. It includes all the information needed to ensure successful communications in the VHF marine band.

The Handbooks are essential reading for every boat owner in Australia. It is highly recommended that a copy of the relevant handbook be carried on board all vessels. Under Commonwealth legislation, some vessels are also required to carry AMSA's GMDSSS Operators Handbook.

The AMC is responsible for publishing the Handbooks. Copies of the handbooks are available for viewing online or for purchase from the AMC.

Examination exemptions

Operators who have attained a statement of attainment from a registered training organization for either the VHF or MF/HF unit of competency can apply to the AMC for the issue of either the LROCP or SROCP as appropriate without the need to sit a further examination.

Re-examination of qualified operators

The ACMA may re-examine a qualified operator if, at any time, it has reasonable grounds to believe that a qualified operator will probably be unable to achieve satisfactory results in a relevant examination. The ACMA may request, in writing, that the operator submit themselves to an examination, or a further examination.

The request must set out:

  1. particulars of the examination in question;
  2. the time and place of the examination in question; and
  3. whether the operator has refused or failed, without reasonable excuse, to comply with a request under the relevant section of the Radcomm Act.

The examination, or further examination referred to above, will be conducted by the ACMA.

Examination reassessment

Any candidate dissatisfied with a decision, in respect of an AMC examination, may apply for a reassessment of the examination result. The application must be made in writing within 28 days of the day on which the notice of examination results is given.

All applications for reassessment should initially be made to the AMC.

Minimum age

ACMA has determined minimum ages  for the issue of certificates of proficiency (refer to Table 2).

A candidate must have attained the minimum age of 16 years prior to sitting the marine radio operator examinations for LROCP, SROCP and Satcom.

Table 2- Minimum age
Certificate of Proficiency Prescribed age in years

LROCP

16

SROCP

16

Satcom

16

GMDSS GOCP

18

GMDSS 1st-Class REC

18

GMDSS 2nd-Class REC

18

Examination fees

Contact the AMC for examination fees.

Processing certificates

Marine radio operator's certificates of proficiency are issued on presentation of the results of approved examinations to the AMC.

Once an applicant has passed all the requisite subjects for a particular grade of certificate, he or she may apply to the AMC for the issue of a certificate. Application should be made on the appropriate form, available from the AMC and accompanied by the original notification of examination results (which will be retained by AMC).

Replacement certificates

Replacement of LROCP, SROCP, MROCP, MROVCP or Satcom certificates

If a marine radio operator's certificate of proficiency is lost, mutilated, destroyed, or a change of name has occurred, the certificate holder may obtain a replacement by making a written application to the AMC using the relevant form available from the AMC.

In the case of the loss or destruction of a certificate, the application must be accompanied by a Statutory Declaration setting out the circumstances of the loss and details about attempts made to locate the Certificate. In addition, the Statutory Declaration should include an undertaking that, if the original certificate is found, it will be returned to the AMC.

Where the issue of a replacement certificate is required because of certificate mutilation or change of name, the original certificate must accompany the application. Requests resulting from a change in name must include documentary proof of the change (such as a copy of a marriage certificate, a deed poll extract or divorce papers). Persons sending photocopies of such documents should have the copy verified as being a true copy of the original by a Justice of Peace or a Commissioner of Declarations.

Replacement of other certificates

Requests for replacement of a 1st or 2nd-Class REC or a GOCP issued after 1 January 1994 should be addressed to AMSA.

Applications for the replacement of other older certificates that are no longer issued, for example, RROCP, 1st/2nd or 3rd-Class Commercial Operator's Certificates of Proficiency, should be made to the AMC. The AMC will issue the applicant with a letter confirming the issue of the certificate only. The wording to be used in the letter will vary depending on the type of certificate originally issued and when it was issued.

Cancellation of certificates

The ACMA may, by written notice given to a qualified operator, cancel a marine radio operator's certificate of proficiency. The notice must include the reason for the cancellation. Subsection 124(3) of the Radcomm Act specifies the matters to which the ACMA must have regard in deciding to cancel a certificate.

Cancellations of marine radio operator's certificates of proficiency are reviewable under Part 5.6 of the Radcomm Act.

Revalidation of certificates

Some marine radio operator's certificates of proficiency, issued by the ACMA and its predecessors to personnel serving aboard vessels subject to the Navigation Act 2012 (in general, vessels of 300 gross registered tonnage upwards), may need regular revalidation (Seagoing Qualifications- Marine Orders Part 3, Regulation 12).

In the case of GMDSS certificates, AMSA has determined that those certificates are valid for five years and for revalidation the certificate holder must have completed at least 12 months' approved sea service in the previous five years on fully GMDSS-fitted ships which did not carry a dedicated radio officer. If the sea service requirements cannot be met, the holder is required to complete an approved revalidation course in Australia.

All enquiries regarding revalidation of marine radio operator's certificates of proficiency should be initially addressed to AMSA.

Other Government agencies

AMSA has a range of maritime safety related responsibilities, including registration of large trading vessels, 406 MHz EPIRB registration, issue of Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSIs), ship inspection, crew competencies, environmental protection standards, navigational beacons, and the Australian Ship Reporting System.

AusSAR which is incorporated within AMSA, provides national and international coordination of marine and aeronautical emergency operations through the Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra. The 24 hour freecall telephone number for marine rescue (including major oil spills and shipping emergencies) is 1800 641 792. AusSAR draws on a wide range of Commonwealth, State and volunteer resources in emergencies.

The Bureau of Meteorology provides regularly updated Maritime Safety Information, including coastal and high seas weather forecasts. Information is provided through radiotelephone, radiofacsimile, Inmarsat Enhanced Group Calling, recorded telephone services and the Internet.

The Department of Infrastructure and Transport is responsible for developing policy and advising the Government in relation to maritime industries, safety of shipping and protection of the marine environment. The Department also administers coastal trade permits and a range of other maritime programs.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is a Commonwealth Government agency that investigates, analyses and reports on transport safety matters - including maritime safety - independently of transport regulators and the transport industry.

State and Territory Maritime Authorities are responsible for most vessel registration and operator licensing, as well as local marine safety and environmental protection issues.

Further information

If you have any additional queries relating to marine radio operator's certificates of proficiency please contact the AMC or  Licence Issue and Allocations. Details of the administrative arrangements for the marine radio certificates of proficiency are set out in the “Australian Maritime College Business Rules for Management of Marine Radio Certification” on the AMC website.

Last updated: 08 May 2017