Employers of thousands of marine crew are being urged to be prepared following changes to the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) - or face potentially being unable to set sail.
The changes affect UK seafarers who hold basic STCW certification, or have six months or more sea service prior to August 1, 1998 and are deemed to be qualified in any of the following:
- Proficiency in Advanced Fire Fighting
- Proficiency in Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting
- Personal Survival Techniques
- Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats
- Proficiency in Fast Rescue Boats
George Masson, Marine Team Leader at Petrofac Training Services’ (PTS) quayside facility in Aberdeen, explained: “The changes are being introduced to ensure seafarers maintain the necessary standards of competence to undertake practical emergency, occupational safety and survival functions such as launching life rafts or dealing with fires.”
As of January 1, 2017, seafarers must have completed the training course or updating training within the previous five years, followed by refresher training every five years.
While the requirements are being introduced globally, UK employers are expected to be amongst those most affected as updating training has already been standard practice in many regions. Seafarers who hold UK certification have been required to demonstrate their competence on an ongoing basis on board their vessel but are unlikely to have undertaken approved refresher training.
Crewing companies and owners or operators of all types of vessel will be affected, including supply ships, support vessels, ERRVs, FPSOs, drillships, ferries and flotels, amongst others.
George Masson added: “The new requirements will apply to thousands of seafarers, so we are encouraging companies to be ahead of the game and to plan their training schedules accordingly. The worst case scenario is that workers may not be able to sail and carry out their duties but this can be avoided.”
PTS is approved by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to deliver initial and updating training for all the required courses, and is also arranging an increasing number of courses to meet customer-specific requirements.