Monday, September 10, 2012



International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarer

Adoption: 7 July 1978; Entry into force: 28 April 1984; Major revisions in 1995 and 2010

The 1978 STCW Convention was the first to establish basic requirements on training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers on an international level. Previously the standards of training, certification and watchkeeping of officers and ratings were established by individual governments, usually without reference to practices in other countries. As a result standards and procedures varied widely, even though shipping is the most international of all industries.
The Convention prescribes minimum standards relating to training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers which countries are obliged to meet or exceed.

1995 revision

On July 7, 1995 the IMO adopted a comprehensive revision of STCW. They also included a proposal to develop a new STCW Code, which would contain the technical details associated with provisions of the Convention. The amendments entered force on February 1, 1997. Full implementation was required by February 1, 2002. Mariners already holding licenses had the option to renew those licenses in accordance with the old rules of the 1978 Convention during the period ending on February 1, 2002. Mariners entering training programs after August 1, 1998 are required to meet the competency standards of the new 1995 Amendments.
The most significant amendments concerned:
  • a) enhancement of port state control;
  • b) communication of information to IMO to allow for mutual oversight and consistency in application of standards,
  • c) quality standards systems (QSS), oversight of training, assessment, and certification procedures,
    • The Amendments require that seafarers be provided with "familiarization training" and "basic safety training" which includes basic fire fighting, elementary first aid, personal survival techniques, and personal safety and social responsibility. This training is intended to ensure that seafarers are aware of the hazards of working on a vessel and can respond appropriately in an emergency.
  • d) placement of responsibility on parties, including those issuing licenses, and flag states employing foreign nationals, to ensure seafarers meet objective standards of competence, and
  • e) rest period requirements for watchkeeping personnel.
STCW Convention chapters
Chapter I: General provisions

Chapter II: Master and deck department
Chapter III: Engine department
Chapter IV: Radiocommunication and radio personnel
Chapter V: Special training requirements for personnel on certain types of ships
Chapter VI: Emergency, occupational safety, medical care and survival functions
Chapter VII: Alternative certification
Chapter VIII: Watchkeeping

Abilities specified in the standards of competence are separated into 7 functions:

1. Navigation
2. Cargo Handling and stowage.
3. Controlling the operation of the ship and care for persons on board.
4. Marine Engineering.
5. Electrical, electronic and control engineering.
6. Maintenance and repair.
7. Radiocommunications.

The Manila Amendments(2010)

The IMO Convention on Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping of Seafarers adopted a new set of amendments in Manila in 2010 called "The Manila Amendments". These amendments were necessary to keep training standards in line with new technological and operational requirements that require new shipboard competencies. The Manila Amendments were effective as of January 1, 2012. There is a transition period until 2017 when all seafarers must be certified and trained according to the new standards. Implementation is progressive, every year a modified set of requirements comes into force. The most significant amendments are:

  • New rest hours for seafarers
  • New grades of certificates of competence for Able seaman in both deck and engine
  • New and updated training, refreshing requirements
  • Mandatory security training
  • Additional medical standards
  • Specific Alcohol limits in blood or breath.
Reg II/5 able seafarer deck
**Reg III/5 able seafarer engine room
**Reg III/6 electro-technical officer
**Reg III/7 electro-technical rating