Maintenance and Adjustment of Magnetic Compasses

November 2016

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The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is a statutory authority established under the Australian Maritime Safety Authority Act 1990. AMSA’s principal functions are promoting maritime safety and protection of the marine environment, preventing and combating ship-sourced pollution in the marine environment, providing infrastructure to support safety of navigation in Australian waters and providing a national search and rescue service to the maritime and aviation sectors.

The AMSA have recently issued the latest Marine Notice regarding the maintenance and adjustment of magnetic compasses.

The purpose of the Marine Notice is to remind vessel owners, vessel operators, masters, officers, seafarer training organisations, coastal pilots and industry organisations that magnetic compasses are a very important tool for the safety of navigation.  Marine Notice 19/ 2016 applies to “regulated Australian vessels” and certain foreign vessels (See Marine Order 27 (Safety of navigation and radio equipment) 2016.) 

The AMSA has advised that Vessel owners and masters each have responsibilities for ensuring that magnetic compasses are maintained in good working order, adjusted and a table or curve of residual deviations is available.
The performance of the compass should be monitored and, for a vessel more than 100GT, deviations recorded in a compass deviation book at regular intervals, ideally at least once every watch and also shortly after a large alteration of course.

Failure to maintain a magnetic compass in good working condition or to monitor deviations may result in a vessel being delayed or detained and potentially the vessel owner and/or master being prosecuted.

Marine Notice 19/2016 is available in full on this link.

Please contact the Loss Prevention Department of Steamship Mutual on +44 20 7247 5490 or e-mail: loss.prevention@simsl.com if further guidance is required.