Security deregulation of ships engaged solely on domestic inter-state voyages: frequently asked questions

What is changing?

From 10 August 2016 ships used solely on domestic voyages between Australian states and territories will no longer be required to hold an approved ship security plan or an International Ship Security Certificate (ISSC).

Why has this change been made?

In consultation with industry, the Department conducted a Security Risk Assessment of inter-state domestic shipping and found that the removal of security plan requirements for these vessels would not increase risk for the maritime sector.

What are the benefits of the change?

The change will relieve industry of the costs of conducting a security assessment and preparing and complying with a security plan. It also aligns inter-state shipping with ships that travel within a single Australian state or territory.

How can domestic inter-state ship operators benefit from this change?

Domestic inter-state ship operators may write to to request the cancellation of their security plan. Letters notifying ship operators of the changes include a template email to assist with requesting cancellation.

Will the change impact Australia's international maritime security obligations?

No. Australia is not obliged to security regulate ships on domestic voyages under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 (SOLAS) or the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code 2003 (ISPS).

What will this change mean for the regulatory status of these ships?

Ship security plans for domestic inter-state ship operators remain in force until cancelled or expired. Following this, ship operators will continue to be regulated under the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facility Security Act 2003 as maritime industry participants, with responsibilities to not hinder or obstruct compliance with the security plans of other maritime operators.

Will the change impact on MSIC requirements for ship crew?

When a ship security plan and ISSC is cancelled, any on-board security zones requiring crew to have and display a Maritime Security Identification Card (MSIC) are removed.

Crew that have an operational need to work unescorted in a waterside or landside security zone within a port will continue to be required to have an display an MSIC.

Persons with an MSIC who will no longer have an operational need to hold an MSIC may hold their MSIC for 12 months after the change comes into force. Persons not having an operational need at the end of that 12 month period will need to arrange the return of the MSIC to the relevant Issuing Body.

Will this change impact ports or port facilities?

Ports and port facilities may change their arrangements for interacting with a ship following cancellation of its ship security plan. For example, they may introduce Declaration of Security (DoS) requirements.

If a port or port facility no longer loads or unloads security regulated ships (ie ships engaged in international voyages), they may also seek to have their security plans cancelled.

Which Australian-flagged ships remain security regulated?

The following Australian-flagged ships used for overseas voyages will remain security regulated:

  • passenger ships capable of carrying more than 12 passengers;
  • cargo ships of 500 gross tonnes or more; and
  • mobile offshore drilling units.

Passenger, vehicle and cargo ferries undertaking domestic inter-state voyages will continue to be subject to security regulation.

What if a ship needs to undertake overseas voyages after 10 August 2016?

There is no change to the regulatory status of a ship which is presently regulated until its plan is cancelled by the Department, (following a request from the operator to cancel) or the plan expires.

If a plan is cancelled but at some point in the future the ship needs to undertake overseas voyages, it is treated as a new entrant. The operator will need to submit a ship security plan to the Department for approval and apply for an International Ship Security Certificate (ISSC).

Where an overseas voyage is rare or exceptional, Australian-flagged ships may apply for an exemption from the requirement to hold a ship security plan and ISSC. Exemptions are generally given for ships where the voyage is not trade related, such as for maintenance or dry-docking. Exemption applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis as provided for under the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Regulations 2003. Foreign port states may require ships with an exemption to implement certain security measures, which may include entering into a Declaration of Security.

What are the next steps for security regulated Australian ships usually engaged on domestic voyages?

  • Ship operators must comply with their security plan while it is in force.
  • Ship operators can contact the Department to request cancellation of their plan, to take effect from a date after 10 August 2016.

If you have any questions regarding this change please do not hesitate to contact the local Office of Transport Security office.