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Notes on reading STCW95
by Russell Lunt
(This article was first published in the PYA News, 1999. Copyright Russell Lunt 1998.)

The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978 (STCW78) was amended at a conference held in London from 26 June to 7 July 1995.

The original STCW78 comprises:

Articles I to XVII
The Annex, containing Regulations I to VI contained in Chapters I to VI.
Resolutions 1 to 23.

The actual ARTICLES I to XVII of STCW 78 have not been amended at the conference in 1995, so remain in force. These articles deal with entry into force provisions, amendment procedures and various other matters, and contain the legal provisions of the Convention - while the technical content is incorporated in the annex.

STCW78 entered into force on 28th April 1984.

It was The Annex to STCW78 which was amended by STCW95.

One of the major features of the revision is the adoption of a new STCW Code, to which many technical regulations have been transferred.

The STCW95 booklet published as a result of the 1995 conference is in the form of a loose leaf binder and set out in 2 main parts:

The STCW Convention. This is divided into 4 parts:
Final Act of the 1995 Conference. Pages 1- 6.
International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978.. Pages 7 - 17.
Attachment 1 to the Final Act of the Conference - Resolution 1 - Adoption of the amendments to the annex to the International Convention on Standards of  Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978. Pages 19 - 53.
Attachment 3 to the Final Act of the Conference - Resolutions 3 - 14, Pages 55 -65.

The STCW Code. Separately numbered - Pages 1 - 255. This is the Attachment 2 to the Final Act of the Conference.

The whole document is of intense interest to anybody involved in commercial yachting. It is a long read. The following notes may be useful as a start.

The STCW Convention.

Final Act of the 1995 Conference. Pages 1- 6.

Representatives of 71 Parties to the original 1978 STCW Convention participated in the 1995 Conference, and many non-governmental organizations sent observers to the conference, these being shipping federations, classification association, lifeboat federation &/etc. No body representing 'yachting' was present. (Ref P3, Clause 8).

International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978.. Pages 7 - 17.

The convention does not apply to seafarers serving on board pleasure yachts not engaged in trade. (Ref P8, Article III).

Transitional provisions in STCW78 provided for a Party (Flag State) to issue certificates of Service for up to 2 years after STCW78 came into effect. These Certificates of Service could be issued to seafarers who held neither an appropriate certificate under the convention nor a certificate of competency issued the Party's laws before entry into force of the convention for that Party, but who had or could:
Served in the capacity for 3 years.
Produce evidence that they have performed the service satisfactorily.
Satisfy Party administration of medical fitness.
A certificate of service issued under this provision would be regarded as the equivalent of a certificate issued under the convention. (Ref P10, Article VII). This provision will have expired for existing Parties to the Convention in 1986 as the provision is contained in the Articles of STCW78 which were not amended in 1995 - but would still apply to new Parties to the Convention.

Attachment 1 to the Final Act of the Conference - Resolution 1 - Adoption of the amendments to the annex to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978. Pages 19 - 53.

STCW95 entered into force on 1st February 1997. (Ref P19, Clause 3).

Principals governing near-coastal voyages, Page 24, Regulation I/3, should be read in detail. This Regulation provides for vessels of one Party operating more or less permanently in the near-coastal waters of another Party - very much the type of operation of many of the small and medium sized charter yachts.

Revalidation of Certificates - provides for a Party, in consultation with those concerned, to formulate refresher and updating courses as required so that certificates issued prior to February 2002 can be re-validated as STCW95 Certificates. Ref P30, Regulation 1/11, Hence the recent document from the UK MCA.

Responsibilities of companies (owners or other person such as manager or bareboat charterer who has assumed the responsibility of the owner) - owners responsible to ensure that crew have proper certificates, vessel is properly manned, suitable documentation and history of crew training & certification is available, crew are familiarized with their duties and with equipment on board on joining, and ships company can properly effect emergency procedures. (Ref P33, Regulation 1/14). See also P26, Regulation I/5 for responsibilities of the master in similar respect.

Transitional provisions - Party may re-validate existing certificates until 1st February 2002. At time of re-validation, previous tonnage limitations may be increased as follows:
200GRT to 500GT 1600GRT to 3000GT. (Ref P33, Regulation 1/15).

Chapters II to VI (pages 35 to 48) details, briefly, the Mandatory minimum requirements for certification of masters, chief mates, officers, chief engineers, engineers &/etc. as follows:
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.
(Only refers to tankers and ro-ro passenger ships)
Chapter VI Emergency, occupational safety, medical care and survival functions.

The requirements are set out in 4 or 5 short paragraphs each, and stipulate:
Minimum age
Minimum amount of 'approved seagoing service' required either as part of a training program or without.
To which sections of the STCW95 Code (which details the necessary education and training requirements) the candidate must comply.
Any other requirements.

Chapter VII. Alternative certification - provides for Parties to issue certificates other than those detailed in Chapters II and II, subject to various conditions. Ref P49, Regulation VII/1.
This Regulation gives Parties a reasonable flexibility, and especially in clause 1.3 of the Regulation, which states that one of the conditions to be met prior to the issue of an Alternative certificate is that the candidate is to ...

"have completed approved seagoing service appropriate to the performance of the functions and levels that are to be stated on the certificate. The minimum duration of seagoing service shall be equivalent to the duration of seagoing service prescribed in chapters II and III of (the) annex. However, the minimum duration of seagoing service shall be not less than as prescribed in section A-VII/2 of the STCW Code;"

Approved means approved by the Party in accordance with these regulations. (Ref P20, Regulation I/1, 1.2).

Seagoing Service means service on board a ship relevant to the issue of a certificate or other qualifications. (Ref P22, Regulation I/1, 1.25).

Chapter VIII. Watchkeeping - gives details of which officers should be on the navigation bridge, and provides for rest periods etc.

Attachment 3 to the Final Act of the Conference - Resolutions 3 - 14, Pages 55 -65.

These deal with agreements for Parties to keep IMO advised of, or encourages them to promote -

ongoing transitional arrangements;

speed up GMDSS training so as to ready for 1 February 1999 (see later extension as detailed in the Helsinki EBA report);

training in crisis management and human behaviour for personnel serving on board ro-ro passenger ships;

training of personnel on passenger ships;

monitoring the implications of alternative certification (including determining whether revisions are needed to the STCW Code to ensure that the requirements for implementation of such systems are adequate and effective);

promotion of technical knowledge , skills and professionalism of seafarers;

development of international standards of medical fitness for seafarers;

training of maritime pilots;

promotion of technical co-operation;

contribution of the World Maritime University; revision of IMO model courses;

promotion of the participation of women in the maritime industry.

The STCW Code.

This STCW Code cross-refers directly to the articles and regulations of, and should be read in conjunction with, the STCW Convention Annex. It is in 2 parts:

Part A Contains mandatory provisions to which specific reference is made in the
Convention, and which detail the minimum standards to be maintained by

Part B Contains recommended guidance to assist parties and those involved in
implementing, applying or enforcing STCW Convention.

STCW Code Part A.

Uses some new terms -

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.

...and responsibilities into the following levels:

1. Management level.
2. Operational level.
3. Support level.

Functions and levels of responsibility are identified by subtitle in the various tables of standards of competence given in chapters II, III, and IV of this part of the STCW Code. The scope of the function at the level of responsibility stated in subtitle is defined by the abilities listed under it in column 1 of the table.

Standard of competence means the level of proficiency to be achieved for the proper performance of functions on board ship in accordance with the internationally agreed criteria as set forth in the STCW Code, and incorporating prescribed standards or levels of knowledge, understanding and demonstrated skill.

Management level means the level of responsibility associated with:
serving as master, chief mate, chief engineer officer or 2nd engineer officer on board a seagoing ship, and
ensuring that all functions within the designated area of responsibility are properly performed.

Operational level means the level of responsibility associated with:
serving as an officer in charge of a navigational or engineering watch or as designated duty engineer for periodically unmanned machinery spaces or as radio operator on board a seagoing ship, and
maintaining direct control over performance of all functions within the designated area of responsibility in accordance with proper procedures and under the direction of an individual serving in the management level for that area of responsibility.

Support level means the level of responsibility associated with:
performing assigned tasks, duties or responsibilities on board a seagoing ship under the direction of an individual serving in the operational or management level.

Following the definitions in Part A of the Code, pages 3 - 6, sample certificates are shown, pages 7 - 12.

Pages 13 - 24 of the Code contain more general information relating to the Convention Regulations I/3 to I/15, and deals with control procedures, National provisions, Training and assessment, communication of information, quality standards, recognition of certificates, revalidation of certificates, standards of simulators, responsibilities of owners.

The various tables in the STCW Code (with notes, pages 25 - 135) give details of:

the different abilities,
the standards of knowledge, understanding and proficiency required depending on the level of responsibility,
the methods for demonstrating competence, and
criteria for evaluating competence.

The STCW booklet can therefore be used as a reference book, and the experience and standards of training required for any particular position can readily for found by looking up Mandatory minimum requirements in Chapters II -VII of the STCW CONVENTION ANNEX. This also gives the sections to be referred to in the STCW CODE.

For ease of reference, Regulation numbers in the STCW CONVENTION are the same as the Section and Table numbers in the STCW CODE (e.g. Regulation II/1 in the Convention Annex deals with the same subject as Section A-II/1 and Table A-II/1 in Part A of the Code, and Section B-II/1 in Part B of the Code.)

Chapter VII - Standards regarding alternative certification, Pages 137/8, Sections A-VII/1-3 gives better particulars of the requirements.

Chapter VIII - Standards regarding watchkeeping, Pages 139 - 162, Sections A-VIII/1 & 2 gives very detailed requirements related to deck and engine room watchkeeping, at sea, at anchor and in port.

STCW Code Part B.

The measures suggested in this part of the Code are not mandatory and given as examples only intended to illustrate how certain Convention requirements may be complied with. Some better definitions are given.

General guidance notes, in some cases very detailed, then follow using the same Section numbers as Convention regulation numbers - so easy to follow through any particular question. Page 203 gives details where sample Training Record Books can be obtained, these available at IMO, ref TM 704CE, at cost of 16 (although not suitable for those starting their training after 1998). The International Shipping Federation in London produce a 'Personal Training & Service Record Book', price 15 or 10 for 100, which conforms to STCW95.

Further Amendments.
Further amendments, mainly relating to Passenger ship and Ro-Ro ship training were adopted in 1997, to come into force in January 1999.

International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification
and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, as amended in 1995
(STCW Convention)
Seafarer's Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Code
(STCW Code)
and 1997 amendments.

Printed and Published by the International Maritime Organisation,
4. Albert Embankment, London SE1 7SR.
Tel 0171 735 7611 Fax (Sales) 0171 587 3241

ISBN 92-801-1412-3
IMO Publication - Sales number: IMO-938E

More --
A Special Deal for Fishermen.

The following is a description (from the IMO Web site) which describes the special deal:

International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F)

While the amendments to the STCW Convention were being considered, a separate conference running concurrently adopted a new International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F).

Because of the nature of the fishing industry it is extremely difficult to develop regulations for other sections of the shipping industry which can be applied without modification to fishing vessels as well. The Convention will apply to crews of seagoing fishing vessels, generally of 24 metres in length and above. The Conference was attended by delegates from 74 countries.

It was originally intended that requirements for crews on fishing vessels should be developed as a Protocol to the main STCW Convention, but after careful consideration it was agreed that it would be better to adopt a completely separate Convention. The Convention is the first attempt to make standards of safety for crews of fishing vessels mandatory.

The STCW-F Convention is comparatively short and consists of 16 Articles and several chapters contained in an annex. Chapter I contains General Provisions and Chapter II deals with Certification of Skippers, Officers, Engineer Officers and Radio Operators.

Previously efforts to improve the training, certification and watchkeeping standards of fishing vessels' personnel have been adopted as recommendations in Assembly resolutions and the Document for Guidance on Fishermens' Training and Certification produced jointly by IMO and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The Convention will enter into force 12 months after being accepted by 15 States. As at 1st October, 1998, STCW-F had not entered into force.

STCW-F 95 : International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel, 1995. Including the final Act of the International Conference an Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessels Personnel, 1995 and resolutions adopted by the Conference. London : IMO, 1996. English : Sales number IMO-915-E (ISBN : 92-801-1413-1).


End of Report
31st October, 1998 Russell Lunt.