In what may be the most extensive set of changes for 15 years an IMO diplomatic meeting in Manila in June will adopt a variety of amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, the STCW Convention, and its associated Code. The proposals were approved by the Sub-Committee on Standards of Training and Watchkeeping in January.
The proposed amendments mark the first major revision of the two instruments since the 1995 revision of the the original 1978 convention.
While there is much to welcome, there remains a lack of competency management
Among the proposed are:
- In chapter I General provisions: improving measures to prevent fraudulent practices associated with certificates of competency; strengthening the evaluation process (monitoring of Parties’ compliance with the Convention);and standards relating to medical fitness standards for seafarers;
- In chapter II Master and deck department: certification requirements for able seafarer (deck); celestial navigation, automatic radar plotting aids and radar requirements; marine environment awareness training; leadership and teamwork; and vessel-traffic-services training;
- In chapter III Engine department: near coastal requirements; marine environment awareness training; leadership and teamwork; upgrading of competences for engineers; and certification requirements for able seafarer (engine);
- Chapter IV Radiocommunications and Radio Personnel is renamed Radiocommunications and Radio Operators and updated to reflect current regulations, including reference to the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual;
- In chapter V Standards regarding special training requirements for personnel on certain types of ships: competence requirements for personnel serving on board all types of tankers, including liquefied gas tankers; and regulations for personnel on "ro-ro passenger" and "passenger ships" combined to cover all "passenger ships";
- In chapter VI Emergency, occupational safety, security, medical care and survival functions, amendments include new requirements for maintaining professional competence in areas where training cannot be conducted on board; and new requirements for security training, as well as provisions to ensure that seafarers are properly trained to cope if their ship comes under attack by pirates;
- In chapter VII Alternative certification: changes in other chapters are reflected,
including addition of requirements for certification of able seafarers and specifications for approved seagoing service and training required for certification of candidates at support level in various functions; and
- In chapter VIII Watchkeeping: updated and expanded requirements on hours of work and rest and new requirements for the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse.
The sub-committee also approved, for submission to the June conference, 13 draft resolutions relating to:
- The contribution of the International Labour Organization;
- Development of guidelines to implement international standards of medical fitness for seafarers;
- Revision of model courses published by IMO;
- Promotion of technical knowledge, skills and professionalism of seafarers;
- Attracting new entrants and retaining seafarers for the maritime profession;
- Promotion of technical co-operation;
- Transitional provisions and early implementation of the revised STCW Convention and Code;
- Promotion of the participation of women in the maritime industry;
- Accommodation for trainees aboard ships;
- Verification of certificates of competency and endorsements;
- Standards of training and certification and ships’ manning levels;
- Future amendments and review of the STCW Convention and Code; and
- Recommendation on measures to ensure the competency of masters and officers on ships operating in polar waters.
IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos said that last week’s work of the Sub Committee has now cleared the way for the amendments to be adopted.
"Our vision of the revised Convention and Code has always been that the two instruments would provide, at any given time, the necessary global standards for the training and certification of seafarers to operate technologically advanced ships today and in the foreseeable future. I am both pleased and confident that this vision will come to fruition in June. The Sub Committee deserves full credit for this" he said.
Review of the principles for establishing the safe manning levels of ships
The Sub-Committee also completed its review of the principles for establishing the safe manning levels of ships and agreed a draft Assembly resolution on Principles of Minimum Safe Manning, which would replace the Principles of Safe Manning (resolution A.890(21), as amended).
The draft resolution will be submitted to the Maritime Safety Committee for approval at its 88th session in December 2010, subject to comments by the Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation (NAV) at its 56th session in July 2010.
The sub-committee also endorsed proposed draft amendments to SOLAS regulation V/14 Ships’ manning, to require administrations to take into account the guidance on minimum safe manning adopted by IMO, with a footnote referring to the Assembly resolution on Principles of Minimum Safe Manning, with a view to approval by MSC 88, subject to comments made by NAV 56.