Those just now entering the maritime industry may not be aware of the extensive regulations and responsibilities that accompany offshore work. Most maritime employees need to obtain a Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) license, and as of January 1, 2012, there are several new amendments in effect. This article discusses the basics of the STCW license, “The Manila Amendments,” and where to find testing and practice materials for the STCW exams.
STCW was established in 1978 by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and implemented in 1984. This 1978 STCW Convention established basic requirements on training, certification and watchkeeping on global scale. Before this, individual governments mandated what standards were needed, usually without consideration of practices in other countries. Consequently, standards in the shipping industry varied drastically from region to region and created complications with maintaining safety standards.
In 1995, the IMO adopted several revisions of STCW and started implementing those revisions in 1997. Full implementation was mandatory by February 2002. These amendments included but are not limited to:
- Improvements of port state control
- Increased communication to IMO to allow for cooperation with and consistency in application of standards
- Quality standards systems (QSS), monitoring of training, assessment, and certification procedures
This training includes basic firefighting, first aid, survival techniques, personal safety, and social responsibility.
- Gave increased responsibility to parities: those issuing licenses and employers have to ensure seafarers meet standards of competence
- Watchkeeping personnel required rest periods
As technology has advanced, the necessity to update these standards became apparent, and in 2010 the IMO Convention of STCW adopted a new set of amendments called “The Manila Amendments.” These amendments went into effect the first of this year. Seafarers will have until 2017 to be certified and trained according to these new standards. Some of the amendments are as follows:
- Limits on how much alcohol (0.05% or .25mg) can be in blood or breath
- New rest hours for maritime workers
- More medical standards
- New requirements for training
- Necessary security training
- New levels of certificates of competence for Able seaman in both deck and engine
These revisions will be incrementally implemented every year until all amendments are in effect. Starting 2012 the new minimum rest hours will be enforced. By July 2013, new maritime workers will be required to adhere to the new standards as opposed to the training in accordance with STCW 95. By January 2014, the mandatory security training in accordance with the Manila Amendments will be required. In January of 2017, all STCW and medical certificates must be issued according to the 2010 standards.
Learning about all the requirements for STCW is a long and detailed process, and taking the STCW test can be a tedious and frustrating experience, as well. Because this article only covers the basics of the STCW license, we encourage maritime workers to seek more detailed information at the IMO website. As for getting access to practice tests, classroom instruction, forums and test locations, visit www.STCWonline.com for free assistance in passing the STCW exam.