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January 30 & 31, 2002

January 25, 2002

IMO buckles on STCW deadline
IMO has issued advice to Port State Control officers that, for a period of six months after the February 1, 2002 implementation deadline for the revised Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW 95), ships whose officers do not hold STCW 95 certificates or flag state endorsements need not be detained.

The move comes in recognition of the fact that many seafarers have not yet been able to obtain the certification required by STCW and that many signatory countries have had problems making the arrangements required to process reciprocal recognition endorsements.

The advice from IMO is in the form of a circular letter issued by the 33rd Sub-Committee on Standards of Training and Watchkeeping (STW). It recommends that, until July 31, 2002, Port State Control officers issue only a warning in cases where a seafarer's documentation meets pre-deadline requirements, but not thosde of STCW 95. Port State Control officers are recommended to issue the warnings to the shipping companies involved and to notify the seafarers and inform the flag State accordingly.

Many national delegations at the subcommittee meeting expressed their disappointment at the need to issue the circular. It represents an embarrassing public climb down by IMO. However, an IMO statement says "there was agreement that [issuance of the circular] in no way altered the implementation date of the Convention and was simply a pragmatic response to what had become a lengthy administrative process. The Sub-Committee was particularly concerned and regretted the fact that, so close to the end of the transitional period, seafarers were reportedly unable to obtain STCW 95 certificates and/or the necessary flag State endorsements required by regulation 1/10. However, it was recognized that the 1995 amendments had introduced radical changes to the STCW Convention and that these had been a significant factor in the delay."

The Sub-Committee also recognized that major ISM Code non-conformities could be raised if a seafarer's documentation is not in accordance with STCW 95. It therefore recommended that Flag States should inform recognized organizations responsible for issuing ISM Code certificates that, until July 31 2002, it would be sufficient to inform the Flag State of such cases when assessing compliance with the ISM Code.

Certificate-issuing Parties and flag Administrations were urged by the Sub-Committee to do their utmost to ensure that seafarers are issued with the appropriate certificates and necessary endorsements with the minimum of delay.

MARINE LOG and the USCG are now finalizing the program for our annual conference MARITIME OPERATIONS: THE HUMAN ELEMENT, in Washington, DC, April 24 & 25, 2002. STCW will feature prominently on the program. To receive further program details, e-mail us!