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ISF and ICS welcome STCW changes
30/6/2010

Amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) have been adopted by governments at an IMO Diplomatic Conference in Manila, Philippines. The International Shipping Federation (ISF) and its member national associations - many of whom were also represented at the Conference - have led maritime employers throughout the comprehensive review process. The sister organisation of ISF, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), provided technical and operational advice.

We are confident that the wide ranging package of changes agreed will further enhance maritime training and the seafaring profession, and contribute to making it even safer.” said ISF/ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe.

ISF and ICS made several detailed proposals during the review; much of this input has been incorporated in the revised STCW Convention including leadership and teamwork training requirements for officers, the development of new competence standards for the grade of Able Seafarer, and suggestions for the improvement of awareness of safety procedures amongst tanker personnel. ISF has also supported the requirement for training record books for deck, engine and electro-technical ratings to ensure that they will also benefit from properly structured on board training. At the Conference itself, ISF helped ensure that minimum standards of medical fitness for seafarers were adopted that will be appropriate in the modern profession.

The most contentious issue to be resolved in Manila concerned the harmonization of IMO minimum rest hour requirements with the ILO Maritime Labour Convention. As a direct result of proposals submitted to the Conference by ISF, both daily and weekly exceptions to the minimum rest hour periods - with appropriate safeguards - have been maintained, while strong requirements for the recording, monitoring and enforcement of the minimum rest hour provisions have also been added.

We are very pleased that governments have responded to the arguments of employers about the need for flexibility to ensure safe and efficient operations during short term peak workloads” said Peter Hinchliffe. “With the strengthened mandatory recording requirement we now expect increased focus from Port State Control on minimum rest hour compliance, particularly with the ILO Maritime Labour Convention also coming into force soon.

The Manila amendments are adopted during the IMO “Year of the Seafarer”. ISF and ICS welcome the Conference Resolution which henceforth establishes the 25 June, every year, as the “Day of the Seafarer” (25 June being the day when the revised STCW Convention was adopted).

Peter Hinchliffe added:
“ISF and ICS have been heavily involved with the STCW revision. ISF in particular now has an ambitious programme to develop guidance materials, and to update its widely used training record books, to help ensure full implementation and compliance by the industry with these important new amendments.”


What the changes involve

The amendments, to be known as "The Manila amendments to the STCW Convention and Code" are set to enter into force on 1 January 2012 under the tacit acceptance procedure and are aimed at bringing the Convention and Code up to date with developments since they were initially adopted in 1978 and further revised in 1995; and to enable them to address issues that are anticipated to emerge in the foreseeable future.
Amongst the amendments adopted, there are a number of important changes to each chapter of the Convention and Code, including:
• Improved measures to prevent fraudulent practices associated with certificates of competency and strengthen the evaluation process (monitoring of compliance with the Convention);
• Revised requirements on hours of work and rest and new requirements for the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as updated standards relating to medical fitness standards for seafarers;
• New certification requirements for able seafarers;
• New requirements relating to training in modern technology such as electronic charts and information systems (ECDIS);
• New requirements for marine environment awareness training and training in leadership and teamwork;
• New training and certification requirements for electro-technical officers;
• Updating of competence requirements for personnel serving on board all types of tankers, including new requirements for personnel serving on liquefied gas tankers;
• 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;
• Introduction of modern training methodology including distance learning and web-based learning;
• New training guidance for personnel serving on board ships operating in polar waters; and
• New training guidance for personnel operating Dynamic Positioning Systems.

Conference resolutions
In addition to two resolutions adopting the aforesaid amendments, the Conference also adopted resolutions on:
- Expression of appreciation to the host Government;
- Transitional provisions and early implementation;
- Verification of certificates of competency and endorsements contained;
- Standards of training and certification and manning levels of ships;
- Promotion of technical knowledge, skills and professionalism of seafarers;
- Development of guidelines to implement international standards on medical fitness for seafarers;
- Revision of existing model courses published by the International Maritime Organization and development of new model courses;
- Promotion of technical co-operation;
- Measures to ensure the competency of masters and officers of ships operating in polar waters;
- Attracting new entrants to, and retaining seafarers in, the maritime profession;
- Accommodation for trainees;
- Promotion of the participation of women in the maritime industry;
- Future amendments and review of the STCW Convention and Code;
- Contribution of the International Labour Organization;
- Role of the World Maritime University and IMO International Maritime Law Institute and International Maritime Safety, Security and Environment Academy (IMSSEA) in promoting enhanced maritime standards;
- Year of the Seafarer; and
- Day of the Seafarer.

 
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