STCW is an acronym for Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers. 95 refers to the year the member nations of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted an updated version of the STCW 78 international agreement.
In the absence of any international standards, the IMO wrote and adopted the original STCW requirements in July 1978. The agreement became international law when no less than 25 nations, representing at least 50% of the world's merchant ships (over 100 tons), signed it. This happened on April 28, 1984.
By 1992, after several high profile maritime casualties, the Council of the IMO realized that the 1978 requirements did not adequately ensure that competent persons were operating the newer, larger, faster, and technologically-advanced vessels not envisioned in 1978. The Secretary General of the IMO, in cooperation with the International Labor Organization (ILO), initiated a complete review and revision of the 1978 agreement.
By July of 1995, the process was finalized with the adoption of a package of amendments to the STCW 78 Convention at an IMO Diplomatic Conference. The 95 Convention entered into force on 1 February 1997. In the United States, the US Coast Guard issued its Interim Final Rule that adopts the provisions of the convention and brings American Regulations into alignment with STCW 95.
Who Is Affected By STCW 95?
Government, ship owners, ship operators, and individual seafarers are all affected by STCW 95. STCW 95 is arguably the most important development concerning the improvement of maritime safety in over two decades. The competence of seafarers is a critical factor in the safe and efficient operation of ships. Only STCW 95 endorsements will be recognized by the USCG and their equivalent agencies (Port State Control) of nations signatory to the STCW 95 Convention.
Advanced Fire Fighting - Any seafarer who may be designed to control fire fighting operations or lead a fire fighting team (any officer) must complete advanced training in techniques for fighting fire with emphasis on organization, tactics, and command. The requirement for this training is once in a lifetime, and proficiency must be demonstrated every five years as part of STCW Basic Safety Training. Advanced Fire Fighting is not required for license renewal, but is required for license upgrading.
Basic Safety Training (BST) - All ocean-going mariners, are required to demonstrate BST proficiency by completing a USCG approved course. You will be required to prove proficiency every five years. As per USCG policy letter 12-01, "A mariner who has met the requirements for initial competency in BST, and who is actively serving on seagoing ships, will be considered as having demonstrated continuing competence in BST, provided he or she completes at least one year of sea service within the past five years." If a mariner does not have a full year of sea service, he or she must complete our BST class or an equivalent USCG approved BST course.
Basic Safety Training consists of the following four elements:
Survival Craft and Rescue Boat Training (Other Than Fast Rescue Boats) - All Deck and Engineering Officers must hold a certificate of proficiency in the operation of Survival Craft and Rescue Boats. This is once in a lifetime requirement. You must know the types and outfits of survival craft, launching and recovering such craft, engine operations, managing survivors and craft after abandoning ship, hypothermia, signaling devices, and injury management with first aid. Those who do not have a Lifeboatman endorsement will need to obtain this endorsement.
Vessel Familiarization - Prior to assuming your duties aboard a vessel you must be given training that is specific to the ship you must be given training that is specific to the ship you are employed aboard. This basic training is a company responsibility. It encompasses your personal emergency equipment, emergency station duties, cargo considerations, fixed and portable safety and emergency equipment aboard and its location, work area access and egress, and other ship or job specific duties and considerations as appropriate. Those who have demonstrated competence (past service) on the same or similar vessels and billet should (may) be given credit for the required training.
Tankerman Requirements - The U.S. Tankerman Regulations require that officers in charge of cargo operations (generally deck officers) on self-propelled tank vessels must be certified as Tankerman PIC (Person In Charge). For deck officers on any tank vessel sailing beyond the boundary line, their STCW 95 certificates must be endorsed as "Valid for Service on Tankships Carrying DL and/or LG Cargoes." The DL (dangerous liquids) endorsement covers both oil and chemical tankers, and the LG endorsement covers liquefied gas cargoes.
Tankship Safety DL Course (40 hour minimum):
All officers (as noted above) sailing on tank vessels must have completed this (or an equivalent) course. The MEBA course is offered at the School and at union halls on all three coasts. This course will earn you a Tankerman DL certificate that exceeds the requirements of Tankerman Engineer. Thus, the course is suitable for both MEBA Deck and Engineering Officers.
Tankship Safety LNG Course:
All officers, as noted, serving aboard LG Tankships (LNG) must have completed the LNG course. Calhoon MEBA Engineering School offers thsi course at least once per year in Easton.
As of the date of printing, under STCW, only those courses required of all seafarers (Advanced Fire Fighting, Basic Safety Training, and Survival Craft) are required for engineering officers, unless sailing aboard tank vessels. However, engineering officers are encouraged to take GMDSS, Medical Care PIC, and Ship's Management, when possible.
Deck officers experience the largest impact as a result of STCW 95's additional training requirements. In addition to those courses required of all seafarers, the following course is required of all deck officers:
Bridge Team/Resource Management - You must attend the BRM Course at Calhoon MEBA Engineering School and obtain a certificate of successful completion.
ARPA and GMDSS are required if your vessel is fitted with them.
ARPA - A certificate of training in Automatic Radar Plotting Aids must be achieved. This training is required only once and currently does not require renewal. USCG radar observer requirements remain unchanged at this time.
GMDSS - All officers in charge of a navigational watch on ships equipped with GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System) must hold a valid certificate as a GMDSS Operator. They must also hold a valid FCC GMDSS Operator license and have completed a minimum 70-hour course.
STCW Special Requirements
Medical Care - Persons designated to provide medical care aboard ship during a voyage must show evidence of satisfactory completion of a course (once in a lifetime) in medical first aid and medical care. The Calhoon MEBA Medical Care PIC course meets this requirements.
Ro-Ro Passenger Vessels - Masters, Officers, and ratings designated to control and unload passengers and vehicles, operate and secure hull openings, assist passengers in emergencies, etc., on Ro-Ro Passenger vessels on international voyages are required to receive specialized training.
This training will encompass crowd and crisis management, rules and codes, use of emergency equipment, familiarization training of ship specific safety and hull integrity systems, stability and trim, ro-ro deck atmosphere control, and emergency procedures.
The USCG has incorporated the training requirements as set forth in STCW 95 Regulation V/2 Table A-V/2. Calhoon MEBA Engineering School will obtain training materials and continue to monitor and adjust to these evolving requirements.
Company Requirements Under STCW 95
Under STCW 95 Regulation I/14, Ship Operators are explicitly required to ensure that:
These requirements are International and apply to all companies. Obviously, the training and documentation requirements must be monitored by the companies. This means that there is almost no possibility of your signing aboard a vessel without meeting all of these requirements regardless of the presence or lack of USCG oversight.
The STCW 95 regulations came into force with full compliance required on February 1, 2002. School personnel stay current on the interpretation and implementation of STCW and USCG regulations. Contact the school for individual concern and explanations.