Deadline nears for compliance with Manila amendments to STCW

Shipping lines should be in full compliance with the Manila amendments to International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers on January 1, 2012 or face stiff penalties, warns the International Chamber of Shipping.

The Manila amendments to the International Convention of Standards, Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) include a minimum of 10 hours rest for seafarers in a 24-hour period and mandatory limits for alcohol consumption. The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Shipping Federation (ISF) led employer representation at the IMO Diplomatic Conference which adopted the Manila amendments to STCW 2010. The Manila amendments  will be phased into force from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2016.

ICS expects the new STCW minimum rest hour requirements to be vigorously enforced by Port State Control Officers who will have the authority to check that ships maintain accurate records for individual seafarers which demonstrate they have been provided with the required minimum rest.

For example, seafarers must now always have at least 10 hours rest in any 24 hour period. To help further reduce the possibility of fatigue, much of the flexibility that previously applied under STCW has now been removed.

The new STCW rest hour requirements were developed to ensure that they were compatible with those stipulated in the ILO Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) which is expected to enter into force in 2013.

Peter Hinchliffe, ICS Secretary General, says, "It is particularly important that companies comply with the new IMO rest hour requirements and record and monitor seafarers' rest periods. Apart from the importance of preventing fatigue, Port State Control can be expected to begin checking the authenticity and accuracy of any records by comparing them with other vessel documentation. Seafarers must also confirm that their hours are accurately recorded."

ICS advises that, because the STCW Convention already has widespread ratification, the 2010 amendments will be enforced on a global basis earlier than the ILO MLC standards. In practice, from January 2012 it is therefore expected that STCW 2010 will become the principal regime for rest hours that will be checked by Port State Control.

For the first time under STCW, mandatory limits for alcohol consumption are also being introduced (a limit of not greater than 0.05% blood alcohol level (BAC) or 0.25 mg/l alcohol in the breath), although individual flag states may choose to apply stricter limits.

Other new STCW requirements governing competence standards and certification will be phased in from January 2012.  To avoid misunderstandings, ICS recommends that vessels keep on board copies of two circulars developed by the IMO Maritime Safety Committee in May 2011 which clarify the implementation dates of the STCW 2010 amendments for Flag States and Port States.

 

December 26, 2011