Developing an operator plan

Information, help and resources on how to develop a Maritime Transport Operator Plan (operator plan).

Before you start developing your plan...

1. Talk to a maritime officer

Our maritime officers can give you free advice about how to develop the safety system for the vessels in your operation (your operator plan). Contact your local maritime officer now to find out how they can help you with your operator plan and save you time and money when you apply to enter MOSS.

Contact a Maritime Officer

2. Read our guidance material

Here is a document to assist you when developing your own operational plan.

The MTOP guidance and template provides the framework in which to build your plan - you can change it as required to suit your operation.

MTOP guidance and template [DOCX: 1Mb, 68 pages]

Developing your plan (step by step)

1. Decide what your plan needs to cover

  • Plan the process
  • identify the activities your operation will be involved in
  • identify the safety risks in your operation
  • assess the safety risks
  • identify the maritime rules your operation must comply with.

If you carry dangerous goods as part of your operation, you will need to address this in your operator plan.

Carriage of dangerous goods under MOSS

Anyone should be able to look at your operator plan and get a clear idea about how your operation runs. Follow these tips to make sure your plan is as good as it can be:

Tips for preparing your operator plan

2. Develop the plan’s safe operating and information management procedures

  • Safe operating procedures for harm prevention
  • safe operating procedures for emergency response
  • information management procedures.

3. Develop a survey plan, maintenance plan, safety equipment list and spare parts list for each vessel you operate

You need these plans and lists for a Certificate of Survey.

A surveyor recognised by Maritime NZ needs to approve every survey plan.

Contact a surveyor

4. Put together your operator plan

This should include the procedures and other documentation you need to submit with it.

5. Storing and updating your plan

You must keep a complete copy of your operator plan on-shore. In addition, each vessel must have onboard a copy of its own specific safe operating procedures.

Prepare a vessel manual containing these procedures - think about waterproofing the manual if necessary.

Top tips for preparing your operator plan

Your operator plan is a resource that you should refer to and use, not just something you produce to meet MOSS application requirements. It is a safety management system and you should use it to manage safety.

Anyone should be able to look at your operator plan and get a clear idea about how your operation runs. Follow these tips to make sure your plan is as good as it can be:

1. Your operator plan should make sense when read from beginning to end as a single document

  • Structure the plan to suit your operation. It doesn’t matter if your operation is large or small, the plan needs to provide all of the information needed to run the operation safely and cleanly.
  • Your plan is likely to be made up of existing and new documents tailored for your operation. If you use sections of your existing SSM manual, these must be up to date and relevant. Make sure you can update the documents easily (if you simply copy and paste sections into the template, you may need to spend more time updating them in the future).
  • You may include separate documents for areas like administration or vessel and maintenance manuals, so long as they cover all of the MOSS requirements. Provide copies of any other documents you refer to, such as drug and alcohol or fatigue policies.

2. Use Word or PDF files for the documents in your operator plan so that they can be searched.

  • Scanned documents sent as image files can’t be searched electronically, and will take more time to review. This could increase the cost of assessing your application.
  • If your plan has lots of scanned image files, it will be more difficult for you to make any changes that are required.

3. Provide an introduction or covering letter to explain how the elements of your operator plan fit together to meet MOSS requirements.

Your plan should be more than a collection of separate documents. Anyone looking at it should be able to understand how the different sections fit together.

4. Consider using photographs to identify and explain, rather than having a lot of words.

Photographs must be clear and sharp.

5. Include all relevant certificates with your operator plan, in addition to those covering priority areas like fit and proper person and survey requirements.

  • You need to provide certificates for elements of your plan such as radio and compass surveys or inspections of safety equipment (fire extinguishers, life jackets, EPIRBs and so on).
  • If you haven’t provided relevant certificates, you may be asked to send them. This could slow down the processing of your application and add to the overall cost.
  • If certificates have been issued by MNZ, you need only list the name of the certificate and the issue date.

Related information:

Getting help

Contact a Maritime Officer for help with your operational and health and safety requirements.

Maritime Officers