Safe Ship Management System For America's Cup
Are you planning to go out and see some of the America's Cup or Louis Vuitton Cup races this summer?
If you are thinking of hiring a boat to get out there, the Maritime Safety Authority (MSA) has a few pointers when it comes to checking whether the operator is legitimate and his or her boating operation meets the MSA's safety standards.
First, check that the vessel has a valid Safe Ship Management certificate. Each operation is required to display its SSM certificate in a prominent place on the vessel. Have a look for the certificate or ask a crew member to show you.
During the America's Cup and Louis Vuitton challenger series, SSM boats in Auckland will be issued with orange flags which say "MSA Approved for America's Cup 1999-2000". Look for the flag and you can be sure that the boat flying it has met MSA safety Standards. If you wish, you can double check the status of a vessel through the MSA's data base of SSM vessels. To do this phone the MSA office in Auckland, 09 307 1370.
If you have a complaint about the way a commercial vessel is operated, you can call that number and the complaint will be investigated. Be prepared to give as many details as you can, and to make a statement about your complaint.
If you find that someone is trying to hire out their boat and is not in an SSM system, the MSA wants to know about it, so, again, get lots of details and call them on the number above, or toll-free on 0508 225522.
There will be a lot of boats out on the water during the race series, and it will help the races run smoothly if operators are professional, their boats are up to standard, and everyone follows race course etiquette. An illegal operator may not know what is required out near the racecourse and may be reluctant to use official channels of communication. This may put passengers at risk if there is an emergency on that boat or nearby, or if the boat is in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Finally, remember that it is your right when hiring a boat to know it is safe, where it is going, how long it will take, where the life jackets are and what safety systems it has onboard. If you are not told about this before setting out, ask the crew to go through a "safety briefing" with you and your group.
Since February 1 last year, all operators of commercial boats over 6 metres long have been required to have Safe Ship Management System for their vessels.
Safe Ship Management is a system that records all of an operation's safety procedures, ensures that crew are trained according to these procedures, and that the procedures are followed. It also ensures (through a system of spot checks) that the vessels and the way they are run is up to scratch every day, not just on "Survey day".
The SSM process is to protect the customer - just as other industries have consumer watchdog organisations - The consequences of `let the buyer beware' are potentially tragic in this area, a dissatisfied customer cannot simply walk out, and if the worst happens, safety equipment and procedures are vital.
For more information about Safe Ship Management phone the MSA toll free on 0800 Safe Ship