Templates for Small Commercial Vessel Procedures and Records


As explained in and the Small Commercial Vessel Safety Guide, the Canada Shipping Act 2001 and its regulations set out certain responsibilities for owners and operators of small commercial vessels. These templates are provided to help you meet these responsibilities.

Requirements for procedures

The Authorized Representative is required to provide procedures in accordance with the following requirements:

  • The Canada Shipping Act 2001 makes the Authorized Representative responsible for providing procedures both for the safe operation of the vessel and for dealing with emergencies. (Section 106 (1))
  • The Small Vessel Regulations require that procedures for the use of lifesaving and fire fighting equipment be established and make the owner and operator responsible for making sure that the crew practices the procedure so that they are able to use the equipment proficiently if needed. (Sections 419, 519, 417)
  • The Marine Personnel Regulations (Part 2, Section 206) require the authorized representative to provide the master written instructions that, at a minimum, determine the procedures and, if applicable, the policies, within the meaning of those terms in section A-I/14 of the Code for Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (the STCW Code), to be followed to ensure that each member of the complement, before being assigned any duty,
  1. becomes familiar with
    1. the shipboard equipment that are specific to the vessel,
    2. the operational instructions that are specific to the vessel, and
    3. their assigned duties; and
  2. can effectively perform their assigned duties when performing duties vital to safety or the prevention or mitigation of pollution.

Other responsibilities legislated by the Canada Shipping Act 2001 include:

  • The Authorized Representative –(the vessel owner unless the vessel is owned by more than one person, in which case one of the owners must be appointed authorized representative) is responsible for all matters related to the vessel that are not assigned to someone else by the Act. (Section 14) This section makes the Authorized Representative responsible for making sure the vessel and its operation comply with all aspects of the Act, unless the responsibility has been given to someone else.
  • Section 106 of the Act also makes the Authorized Representative responsible for ensuring that:
    • the vessel and its machinery and equipment meet the regulatory requirements; and
    • that the crew and passengers receive safety training.

The Master, along with the Authorized Representative, is responsible for using all reasonable means to make sure the vessel is seaworthy before and during each voyage; protecting the vessel and the people on board from hazards; operating within legal limits, including maximum number of passengers. (Sections 85, 109, 110)

The Master is also responsible for: ensuring everyone employed on the vessel has the necessary certification (Section 82(1)); ensuring the crew is sufficient and competent for safe operation (Section 82 (2)) assisting persons in distress (Sections 130 – 133); helping and providing information to the other vessel if involved in a collision (Section 148).

Crew members are responsible for: carrying out their duties in a safe manner; letting the master know if they become aware of any hazard or anything else that might affect safe operations; and following the master's lawful orders except where the master is putting the vessel or people on board at risk. (Sections 113, 82 (3))

Everyone on board has a responsibility to make sure that pollutants do not enter the water. (Section 187)

The Marine Personnel Regulations (Part 2, Section 206) makes the Master responsible for ensuring that

  1. in accordance with the procedures provided by the Authorized Representative, and, if applicable, policies, each member of the vessel's crew, is trained at the beginning of their employment, and can effectively perform their assigned duties when performing duties vital to safety or the prevention or mitigation of pollution, and that thereafter the member's knowledge is maintained up to date; and
  2. a record of training that includes the following information is kept readily available for inspection by a marine safety inspector, on board the vessel or, if the vessel does not travel more than five nautical miles from its home port, in its home port:
    1. the name of each member of the complement who has been trained,
    2. the equipment they were trained on,
    3. the subject-matter they were trained on, and
    4. the days on which they were trained.

Other responsibilities may also exist, such as those for health and safety in the workplace. Depending on the operation, federal or provincial requirements may apply. Your provincial worker's compensation board may be able to help you determine which regulations apply and how best to met them.

Meeting your responsibilities

Your safe operating procedures don't have to be submitted to or approved by Transport Canada, but if you are inspected, you must be able to show that you have met the requirements to develop and implement these procedures.

To help you, Transport Canada has created templates for common operating and emergency procedures. You can download these templates and amend them to reflect your own operation, then use them to train your crew. Use the templates as examples to follow in expanding your procedures to provide direction for all operations that could be dangerous or result in pollution if reasonable limits or actions are not followed.

Templates for checklists and forms to record information that you may find useful to help manage your operation, as well as to demonstrate that you have carried out training and drills as required are also provided. Fill out the forms each time you carry out a drill so your records are up to date.

If you keep these documents in a binder, update the forms as needed and add new checklists as they are completed, you will have an archive of everything that you have done to run your operation as well as a schedule that will let you plan and keep a record of routine maintenance and checks.

You may want to store other documents related to the vessel and the operation in the binder as well so that you have everything in one place.

Keep the binder in a safe place, refer to it often and keep it current.

Templates Description/Purpose Version
    Last updated
Safety Policy Policies are written statements used to guide and determine present and future decisions.
A written safety policy will help you and your staff understand how you want your operation run. The Canada Shipping Act 2001 sets out responsibilities for the authorized representative, master and crew. By setting out who makes what decisions in a policy, you will help everyone be able to understand and carry out these responsibilities without everyone having to read the Act.
Operating Procedures
Pre-departure Run through this short list every time you get ready to set sail to be sure that everything is in order before you leave 1.0
Refuelling Dual purpose – prevent pollution and avoid explosion. 1.0
Emergency Procedures
Person overboard A coordinated effort to retrieve anyone who falls overboard quickly and safely. 1.0
Fire fighting Contain and extinguish fires without exposing crew / passengers to unnecessary risk 1.0
Taking on water Respond rapidly and effectively to reduce amount of water entering the vessel 1.0
Pollution response Minimize amount and spread of pollutant 1.0
Abandon ship Provides practice in: assembling passengers, crew; donning personal protective equipment; launching safety equipment.
Forms and Records
Personnel record A collection of personal information for each staff member in case of medical or other emergency. Can be used as a record of initial training received, although a signed summary of the items reviewed is preferable. 1.0
Crew certification Provides a handy reference of competency, marine emergency duties ( MED) and first aid training certificates held by staff to easily identify crew members who have certificates that need to be renewed. 1.0
Number of persons onboard This form is for recording and reporting the number of people on board each voyage to a responsible person ashore who can be contacted if something happens so that Search and Rescue know how many people need to be recovered. 1.0
Emergency drills Record the date, the type of drill and who took part to show compliance with Small Vessel Regulations (Sections 419, 519, 417) and Marine Personnel Regulations 1.0
Incident report Report required by the Transportation Safety Board if vessel is involved in an incident or accident TSB 1808 (01/10)
Maintenance schedule This schedule, once you have modified it to include recommended service intervals from the manufacturers, provides a combination of calendar and recommended service interval driven items to allow you to plan your maintenance so that it gets done when it should with less downtime. 1.0
Self-inspection A systematic review to ensure compliance with key safety requirements 1.0

Other information you may want to include in a company binder:

Vessel Records

  1. Registration certificate
  2. Notices of change in address/vessel information
  3. Particulars and Plans
  4. Operational limits
  5. Record of Modifications
  6. Inspection records

Company Records

  1. Insurance
  2. Business license
  3. Workers' compensation forms
  4. Correspondence