The competence of seafarers is the most critical factor in the safe and efficient operation of ships,and has a direct impact on the safety of life at sea and the protection of the marine environment.
The IMO Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) is a comprehensive set of international regulations intended to ensure that the highest standards of seafarer competence are maintained globally.
New wide-ranging amendments to the STCW rules, agreed by governments in Manila in 2010, are intended to ensure that STCW standards stay relevant, so that seafarers can continue to develop and maintain their professional skills. In particular, numerous changes are now being introduced to take account of technical developments that require new shipboard competences.
The STCW amendments will begin to apply from 1 January 2012, when they enter into force. In particular, companies and crew will be required to comply with the new minimum STCW rest hour rules for seafarers.
Between now and January 2017, the other new requirements will be introduced by your maritime administration according to a transitional timetable. This short brochure, produced to coincide with the new IMO Day of the Seafarer (25 June, the day on which the ‘Manila Amendments’ were adopted) summarises what seafarers can expect from the updated STCW Convention.
Key new training requirements
|Changes to Competence Tables|
Various changes to the STCW Competence Tables are included
in the Manila Amendments. Important examples include the
need for deck officers to be competent in the use of ECDIS
and for engineer officers to be able to operate pollution
prevention equipment. More generally, additional emphasis is
given to environment management.
|Leadership and Teamwork|
For deck and engine officers, substantial new competence
requirements related to leadership, teamwork and managerial
skills have been added. Assertiveness training for all
seafarers has also been included, given its importance not
only for those who have to direct operations but also for
those in lower grades who may have to communicate on
safety matters with senior officers, the master and/or shore
|Training Record Books|
It will be mandatory for all deck and engine rating trainees
to demonstrate competence through the use of on board
training record books, with completion to be supervised by
officers responsible for on board training (in addition to the
existing requirements applicable to officer trainees).
|Mandatory Security Training|
As well as specific training and certification requirements
for Ship Security Officers, new security familiarisation and
training requirements have been introduced for all grades
of shipboard personnel. Seafarers may already comply with
these new security requirements through seagoing service or
An important feature of the Manila amendments is the
additional emphasis given to the need for seafarers’
standards of competence to be maintained throughout their
careers. All seafarers are now required to provide evidence
of appropriate levels of competence in basic safety training
(including survival, fire-fighting, first aid, and personal safety)
every five years. Much of this refresher training can be
conducted on board, but some will require training at shore
Seafarers who hold certificates of proficiency in survival craft,
rescue boats (CPSC) and fast rescue boats or advanced fire
fighting will also have to show that they have maintained their
levels of competence in these skills every five years
|New Seafarer Grades and Certification|
STCW 2010 introduces extensive training and certification
requirements for the new grades of ‘Able Seafarer Deck’ and
‘Able Seafarer Engine’. These are in addition to the current
navigational and engine watch rating requirements which are
New competence standards and certification for the position
of ‘Electro-Technical Officer’ and ‘Electro-Technical Rating’
have also been established, in recognition of a position already
widely established, particularly in the passenger ship industry.
It should be noted that there are many interchangeable
competences between the Able Seafarer Engine and the
Electro-Technical Rating. It is therefore possible to consider
the Electro-Technical Rating aspects as a supplement to the
Able Seafarer Engine training, which should contribute to
career development for such seafarers and might enhance
the flexibility of their role on board
STCW now contains new, comprehensive Competence Tables
for training in oil, chemical and gas tanker operations, at
both basic and advanced levels. (New guidance has also been
developed for crew on offshore support vessels and all ships
in polar waters.)
Additional medical fitness standards and requirements for
certification have been introduced.
|Prevention of Unsafe Alcohol Use|
These include a specific limit of 0.05% blood alcohol level or
0.25mg/l alcohol in the breath.