Major revisions to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978 (the STCW Convention), and its associated Code, are set to be adopted at a Diplomatic Conference to be held in Manila, Philippines, from 21 to 25 June 2010, under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for maritime safety and security and the prevention of pollution from ships.
The draft amendments to the STCW Convention and Code mark the first major revision of the two instruments since those adopted in 1995, which completely revised the original 1978 Convention and introduced the Code. It is anticipated that, once the proposed amendments have been adopted, the necessary global standards will be in place to train and certify seafarers to operate any modern, technologically advanced ships well into the future.
Among the measures due for adoption in Manila 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 of Parties' compliance with the Convention;
"updated and expanded 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 for seafarers;
"incorporation of new certification requirements for able seafarers;
"new requirements relating to training in modern technology such as electronic chart display 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 and electro-technical ratings;
"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 in the event of attack by pirates;
"introduction of modern training methods including distance learning and web-based learning;
"new training guidance for personnel serving on board ships operating in polar waters;
"new training guidance for personnel operating dynamic positioning systems; and
"new training guidance for personnel serving on board off-shore support vessels.
The Conference will also consider 16 draft resolutions, relating, among other things, to the provision of accommodation for trainees aboard ships; attracting new entrants to and retaining seafarers within the maritime profession; promotion of the participation of women in the maritime industry; standards of training and certification; and ships' manning levels.
Entry into force
The date for the new requirements to enter into force, under the tacit acceptance procedure as set out in the Convention, will be considered by the Conference.
Year of the Seafarer
The Conference is seen as a significant event in the IMO-designated "Year of the Seafarer", which aims to provide the maritime community with an opportunity to pay tribute to seafarers from all over the world for their unique contribution to society and in recognition of the vital part they play in the facilitation of global trade.