Disagreement about resting time when STCW was pushed through

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The midsummer diplomatic conference in Manila pushed through a revised version of the STCW on 25 June (standards of training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers 1978, as amended in 1995 and 1997).
In 2006 the IMO decided to revise the STCW and after a number of meetings, workgroups and correspondence groups, the final result has now been achieved. A great deal of work has been carried out to harmonise the rules with the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) so-called superconvention from 2006. The new STCW convention and code will first apply from 1 January 2012 and will come fully into force on 1 January 2017. Certificates will be valid for five years and will be successively replaced on renewal. A norm for health certificates has been drawn up and  a maximum validity period of two years has been agreed on, as well as a three-month period for renewing the certificate.
Chapter II concerning the deck department has been revised in terms of technical progress. Among other things, ARPA and ECDIS have been given a more prominent role, as have leadership, management issues and teamwork. Furthermore, the designation of able seafarer will be written in the convention for both deck and engine rooms. This means that competence requirements and authorization will apply to able seamen and engine mechanics.
Two new competence requirements
Chapter III has two further electro-technical competence requirements, one at the operational level and one at the support level. In this context we are describing ETO (electro technical officers) – electro-engineers/electrical engineers/electrical technicians and ship electricians – who will now have real competence requirements and accordingly, authorization. The tables showing competence requirements have been revised for all engine officers and in the guide in the B section, work with high-tension electricity, i.e. over 1000V, has been added.
Substantial changes have been made to Chapter V, particularly for tanker training. There are now two levels of training, basic and advanced, for tankers, chemicals and gas. In the passenger sector, crowd and crisis including behaviour training has been added. Certificates in these areas are valid for five years. The B section has been given more thorough guides and now includes DP, anchor handling and navigation in polar areas.
Chapter VI now includes basic training and rescue launches, as well as a new paragraph on ship security officers and security training.
Alcohol limit
Chapter VIII has been given alcohol limits of 0.5 parts per thousand or 0.25 mg/liter in exhaled breath, and lower if the relevant national legislation or company policy so prescribes. Resting time rules were finally given a compromise text in which the general rule will be at least 77 hours’ rest per week. Exceptional rules will allow at least 70 hours’ rest per week during a maximum of two consecutive weeks. Resting time per 24 hours can be divided into a maximum of three periods, of which one must be at least six hours.
In view of the point of departure for revision, that there would be no downgrading of training or safety requirements, representatives of marine employees say that progress was not enough in some areas. This especially applies to resting time rules, which were discussed up to the last minute before the club was struck.

Michael Huss
Michael Huss

Mikael Huss/
Merchant Marine Officers’ Association

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