Monday 19th Nov, 2018

International Chamber of Shipping calls for STCW overhaul

IMO efforts to promote slow steaming may come with risks for isolated nations.
IMO efforts to promote slow steaming may come with risks for isolated nations.

INTERNATIONAL regulations around training need to be updated to allow the shipping industry to adapt more effectively to technological developments such as automation, International Chamber of Shipping chairman Esben Poulsson said recently.

Speaking in Manila, Mr Poulsson called for a comprehensive revision of the International Maritime Organization International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), which governs global standards for the training and certification of merchant seafarers.

The convention was reviewed in 2010 with the adoption of the “Manila amendments”, but the previous overhaul was undertaken by IMO member states more than 25 years ago.

Mr Poulson said it is commonplace for employers to routinely provide additional training and assessments prior to the deployment of many officers holding STCW certification, raising questions as to whether the convention as currently drafted is still fit for purpose in the 21st Century.

“A fully revised STCW regime would allow the industry to adapt much more effectively to technological developments including increased automation,” he said.

“It should provide a structure of sufficient flexibility to hit the moving target of a changing world fleet, and may need to develop a more modular approach to competency accumulation and certification. The arrival of new technology is already changing the functions that seafarers perform on board and the skills and training they require.”

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Mr Poulsson continued, saying a revised STCW would seek to improve transparency and the robustness of implementation oversight.

“The so called STCW whitelist of nations that have communicated information to IMO about compliance now serves little real purpose as it includes virtually everyone,” he said.

“ICS would not wish to tear up the whitelist without a suitable replacement but there has to be a more transparent and robust monitoring system of national implementation to ensure that STCW continues to deliver competent and quality seafarers.”

Mr Poulsson explained that ICS increasingly views the STCW 2010 amendments as an interim revision which had added some new training and certification provisions without making the structural changes needed to accommodate new developments in training or the competences that would be required to operate ships in the future.

“With the involvement of all industry stakeholders, we think the time is now right to consider the next comprehensive revision of STCW akin to that completed by IMO member states back in 1995,” he said.

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