This is a common question used in commercial vessel parlance and can pose problems for a prospective buyer or seller.
The better question to ask is: “Does the boat have a current Certificate of Survey (COS)?” or for a new build, “Will the boat have a Certificate of Survey?”
Quite often, after the boat has been purchased, the new owner will make the call to a Marine Surveyor and explain that the boat is built to survey and would like to now have the survey inspection completed. The follow-up question will be around the documentation and the certificates, drawings, etc. If the vessel does not have a current certificate of survey or an expired certificate of survey of more than two years you will need to complete the initial survey process.
This may be an easy process if you have the drawings and other required documentation and records. Some Certificate of Survey’s may state some limitations that you should be aware of when you purchase the vessel.
NOTE: In Victoria from 2010 to 2013 they issued a Certificate of Survey titled “Certificate of Safe Construction”. This has since been replaced with the Certificate of Survey.
In some states, the Certificate of Operation is separate to the Certificate of Survey.
The Certificate of Operation (COO) is a representation that the vessel has a safety management system in place. The Certificate of Operation is NOT a Certificate of Survey. In some states such as QLD and WA where a vessel may not be able to comply with the requirements of a construction standard the state issued the vessel operator a COO, however this would normally come with limitations stated on the COO that the vessel can continue operating in that state. Should the vessel be sold or relocated it would then need to meet the requirements of the NSCV to achieve a COS. This may then pose a problem as an older vessel may struggle to comply with contemporary standards.
Before buying a vessel it’s best to contact Maritime Survey Australia as we offer pre-purchase inspections and reports to ensure you purchase a vessel that is fit for purpose and that the compliance process is a little easier for you.