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Polar Code facts (3): STCW, International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers

The IMO’s MSC (Maritime Safety Committee) accepted the international code for ships operating in polar waters in November 2014. The Polar Code came into effect on 1 January 2017.

The code stipulates a binding international framework aimed at protecting the polar regions (the Artic and the Antarctic regions) against maritime risks. In the past, we blogged about what the Polar Code exactly means , but now we focus more on the three conventions that make up the Polar Code: SOLAS (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea), MARPOL (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution by Ships) and STCW (International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers), which was adopted in May 2016.

What is the STCW?

The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers was introduced by the IMO, and the first convention was drawn up in 1978. Before the convention was introduced, the standards were determined by the countries themselves, which meant that there were significant differences in the quality of seafarers. The main aim of the convention is to promote the safety of human life and property at sea and to protect the maritime environment.

The STCW convention defines requirements for training, certification and watchkeeping, but because the convention contains the minimal requirements, the participating countries are free to define stricter requirements for the seafarers. Moreover, the convention relates only to the quality of the crew and not to the number of crew members on a ship; this is dealt with in the SOLAS convention.

The provisions in the STCW convention are supported by sections of the STCW code. The convention contains basic requirements that are explained in detail in the Code. Part A of the code is mandatory and part B contains recommended guidelines to illustrate how particular requirements can be complied with. Part A is the part that has now also been included in the Polar Code; in this part, the organisation wants ships to ensure that they sail in Polar waters with well qualified, trained and experienced personnel on board.

Manning and training

In this blog we will only be focussing on Part A – Manning and training. The goal of this chapter in the Polar Code is to ensure that ships operating in polar waters are appropriately manned by adequately qualified, trained and experienced personnel.

Functional requirements
In order to achieve the goal as set out above, companies must ensure that masters, chief mates and officers in charge of a navigational watch on board ships operating
in polar waters have completed training to attain the abilities that are appropriate to the capacity to be filled and duties and responsibilities to be taken up, taking into account the
provisions of the STCW Convention and the STCW Code, as amended.

Regulations
In order to meet the functional requirement of above while operating in polar waters, masters, chief mates and officers in charge of a navigational watch have to be qualified in accordance with chapter V of the STCW Convention and the STCW Code as followed:

Open waters

Other waters

The Administration may allow the use of a person(s) other than the master, chief mate or officers of the navigational watch

The Administration may allow the use of a person(s) other than the master, chief mate or officers of the navigational watch to satisfy the requirements for training, as required is that:

  • this person(s) shall be qualified and certified in accordance with
    regulation II/2 of the STCW Convention and section A-II/2 of the
    STCW Code, and meets the advance training requirements noted in the
    above table;
  • while operating in polar waters the ship has sufficient number of persons
    meeting the appropriate training requirements for polar waters to cover all
    watches;
  • this person(s) is subject to the Administration’s minimum hours of rest
    requirements at all times;
  • when operating in waters other than open waters or bergy waters, the
    master, chief mate and officers in charge of a navigational watch on
    passenger ships and tankers shall meet the applicable basic training
    requirements noted in the above table; and
  • when operating in waters with ice concentration of more than 2/10, the
    master, chief mate and officers in charge of a navigational watch on cargo
    ships other than tankers shall meet the applicable basic training
    requirements noted in the above table.

The use of a person other than the officer of the navigational watch to satisfy the requirements for training does not relieve the master or officer of the navigational watch from
their duties and obligations for the safety of the ship.

Every crew member shall be made familiar with the procedures and equipment contained or referenced in the Polar Water Operational Manual relevant to their assigned duties.

Green sealing solutions

The STCW convention is one of the conventions to which you need to comply to make safe operation in polar waters possible. Don’t forget to also think about your sealing solutions. A number of different sealing solutions are possible to make your ship environmentally friendly and therefore also comply with the Polar Code. The sealing solutions Lagersmit offers are:

How we can deliver Peace of Mind?

Contact Keke Liu to see how we can help you!

Like to know more about the Polar Code?

Then read our blogs below!

Sources:
Image Courtesy: Clean Arctic Alliance
http://www.imo.org/en/OurWork/HumanElement/TrainingCertification/Pages/STCW-Convention.aspx