IMO updates of STCW rules will bring new training requirements as of 2012

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has ratified amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) that will affect mariners beginning in 2012.

The STCW sets minimum standards relating to training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers. Adopted in 1978, it first took effect in 1984 and was last revised in 1995.

Opening the June conference in Manila, Philippines, IMO Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos cited the need for revisions to address security issues and technological innovations, and to provide flexibility in training. To varying degrees, the Manila Amendments do just that.

Training requirements were updated for recent technologies like Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS), as were security-training standards for the crews of ships subject to pirate attacks. The IMO also passed a resolution revising existing model courses and developing new ones, and made room for new training methodologies, like distance- and web-based learning.

Other amendments set new training and certification requirements for electro-technical officers, new requirements for marine environment awareness and leadership and teamwork training, and new training guidance for personnel serving in polar waters or operating dynamic positioning systems.

The conference also updated competence requirements for all personnel serving on tankers and set new requirements for crew on liquefied gas tankers. Able seafarers will face new competence requirements as well as medical fitness standards. Work and rest hour requirements changed, and rigorous reporting, monitoring and enforcement provisions were added.

Other amendments revised requirements covering drug and alcohol abuse prevention, and strengthened the evaluation and monitoring process for certificates of competency to combat fraud.

Besides the amendments, the IMO adopted several resolutions, including one aimed at attracting new and retaining existing seafarers, and one promoting the participation of women in the industry. All changes take effect Jan. 1, 2012.

The conference was held from June 21 to 25. More than 500 delegates from 85 IMO member states met, along with observers from the International Labour Organization, the European Commission and 17 non-governmental organizations.

Chris Bernard

By Professional Mariner Staff