Implementation of STCW 95

December 2001

PDF Version

(Sea Venture Volume 20)

Major changes to the Regulations governing Seafarer’s Training, Certification and Watchkeeping, adopted in 1978 and known as the STCW Code, are soon to be implemented. This imminent change may force some operators to rethink their employment policies. The original Code was amended in 1995 and is now known as STCW 95. New requirements have been phased in continually within a transitional period. However, the new Regulations, in their entirety, will come into force on 1st February 2002.

It is generally conceded that most of the accidents that happen at sea are due to human error. The STCW 95 seeks to establish a common base for the training and education of seafarers throughout the world, and places the emphasis on competence rather than pure knowledge. The purpose of the Code is to establish a quality controlled structure that will ensure that not only are the required standards met but that they are seen to be met.

In order to formalise all the educational and training requirements for the issuing of certificates of competency, IMO has been given the role of verifying that the stipulated measures are effectively put into place. To this end, IMO has issued a so called "White List" of countries deemed to be giving "full and complete effect" to the requirements of STCW 95. The initial White List was approved by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of IMO at the end of 20001. The list was extended in June 20012 and again in November 20013. A total of 102 countries (and 1 IMO Associate Member) are now included on the White List and their names are given at the end of this article .

STCW 95 also requires training provisions to be independently evaluated every 5 years and the results of that evaluation reported to IMO. Thus continued presence on the White List will be under constant scrutiny and, where appropriate, the list will be updated by IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee. The shift in emphasis of training being on competence rather than knowledge and the publication of the White List will cause shipping companies and seafarers to change their outlook on manning and employment.

The White List will add complications to crewing in that seafarers serving on ships belonging to countries and flags on the White List but holding certification from countries that are not, may have difficulty in getting flag state’s acceptance of their certificates. The fact that the issuing party may not be on the White List does not invalidate the certificate and its endorsement by that party, however, in the long term such seafarers may well be barred from sailing on ships of the White List fleet. A flag state that is on the White List may, as a matter of policy, elect not to accept seafarers with certificates issued by non-White List countries for service on its ships. If it does accept such seafarers, they will be required by 1st February 2002 also to have an endorsement, issued by the flag state, to show that their certificate is recognised by the flag state. Crewing policies should therefore be reviewed and potential problems identified and assessed at the earliest opportunity.

Seafarers who have original STCW 78 certificates will have to revalidate to STCW 95 standards of competence and medical fitness. Thus on 1st February, 2002 every master and crew member must hold valid certificates complying with the regulations of STCW 95 and endorsed by the issuing flag state. The updated certificates, valid for service after 1st February 2002, will be subject to revalidation every 5 years.

Members should be aware of these potential problems and ensure their crews, crew departments and/or crewing agencies are aware of STCW 95 certification requirements. Very soon it will be too late for ship’s staff to retrain or sit further examination before the deadline of 1st February 2002. Seafarers who currently do not have STCW 95 certificates should be encouraged to approach the authority who issued their original certificates and apply for an update to STCW 95 Regulations as soon as possible.

White List Published by IMO in December 2001:

Algeria
Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina
Australia
Azerbaijan
Bahamas
Bangladesh
Barbados
Belgium
Belize
Brazil
Bulgaria
Canada
Chile
China
Colombia
Comoros
Cote d'Ivoire
Croatia
Cuba
Cyprus

Czech Republic
Democratic Peoples'
Republic of Korea Denmark*
Dominica
Ecuador
Egypt
Estonia
Ethiopia
Fiji
Finland
France
Georgia
Germany
Ghana
Greece
Honduras
Hungary
Iceland
India
Ireland
Islamic Republic of Iran

Italy
Israel
Jamaica
Japan
Kiribati
Latvia
Liberia
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Madagascar
Malaysia
Maldives
Malta
Marshall Islands
Mauritius
México
Micronesia (Federated States of)
Morocco
Myanmar

Netherlands
New Zealand
Nigeria
Norway
Pakistan
Panama
Papua New Guinea
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Portugal
Republic of Korea
Romania
Russian Federation
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Samoa
Senegal
Singapore
Slovak Republic
Slovenia
Solomon Islands

South Africa
Spain
Sri Lanka
Sweden
Switzerland
Thailand
Tonga
Trinidad & Tobago
Tunisia
Turkey
Tuvalu
Ukraine
United Kingdom**
United States
Uruguay
Vanuatu
Venezuela
Vietnam
Yugoslavia
China (Hong Kong SAR)***

* Includes: Faeroe Islands
** Includes: Isle of Man Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar
*** Associate Member

1 73rd session of the MSC - 27 November to 6 December 2000
2 At the 74th session of the MSC - 30 May to 8 June 2001
3 At the 1st extraordinary session of the MSC - 27 and 28 November 2001: An extraordinary session was held to allow further countries to be listed before the critical 1 February 2002 implementation date.