Stcw Amendments and Critical Analysis

Topics: International Maritime Organization, STCW, Law of the sea Pages: 10 (3297 words) Published: February 14, 2013
Introduction: The STCW Convention
“The Standards of Training, Certification & Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention was drafted in 1978 by conference at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London, and was activated in 1984” (wikipedia/stcw). Since its beginning, its scope has been to set qualification standards for masters, officers and watch personnel on seagoing merchant ships. On an international level, “the 1978 STCW Convention was the first to establish basic requirements on training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers” (wikipedia/stcw). It introduced such things as the requirement for at least “4 years of experience for a Master 1600 gt license” (

Previously, it was individual governments that used to establish “the standards of training, certification and watchkeeping of officers and ratings” (wikipedia/stcw), in most cases without reference to practices in other nations. As a consequence, standards and procedures were broadly different, although there is an extreme worldwide character in shipping (wikipedia/stcw) and many countries used to afford very satisfactory training. However, the performance criteria and necessary evidence for appraisal of competence under the STCW Code were open to unlike interpretations and this had provoked an increasing concern (Mi Jimmy NG, 2009)

In the Convention one notably significant trait is that “it applies to ships of non-party States when calling ports of States which are Parties to the Convention” (wikipwdia/stcw). According to Article X, “parties are required to apply the control measures to ships of all flags to the appropriate level to ensure that no further favorable treatment is provided to ships authorised to fly the flag of a State which is not a Party than is provided to ships authorized to fly the flag of a State that is a Party” (wikipwdia/stcw). Actually, the Convention has received such wide acceptance mainly due to the adversities which could arise for vessels of States which are not Parties to the Convention. By 2011, the STCW Convention had 155 Parties, “representing 98.9 percent of world shipping tonnage”.(wikipwdia/stcw)

In its initial format, the STCW code encountered some issues, such as the vague requirements that were based on the caution of parties to the Convention. There were increasing difficulties with an absence of explicit “standards of competence”, lack of IMO oversight of compliance, narrow port state control and deficiencies that did not direct adequately contemporary onboard operations (Revision of ISM Code and STCW 95, cited Mi Jimmy NG, 2009)

Besides, during the first years of implementation, the IMO as an organization had merely a consultative prospect and politically restricted authorisation; it therefore left part of the standards to the jurisdiction of each state. Sometimes after 1984, many sides of the industry “felt that the STCW78 was unsuccessful” (Zecet al., 2000, cited Emad and Roth, 2008 ) because “it included vague requirements that were left to the discretion of each government” (Bobb, 2000, cited Emad and Roth, 2008) and because “there was lack of clear standards of competence” (Fink, 2001, cited Emad and Roth, 2008), which resulted in different interpretations. There was also “a demand to bring the STCW78 up to date” (Moreby, 1999, cited Emad and Roth, 2008). Finally from 1992 on – “after a series of major human-caused shipping accident with disastrous consequences (environmental pollutions and loss of lives) and faced with demands for action from politicians, press and public – the IMO decided to review the Convention” (Emad and Roth, 2008).

The 1995 Revision

Obviously, the time had come for the IMO to emphasize on aspects referring to “people, training and operational practices rather than on issues dealing with improving ship construction and equipment standards” (Sailors Club, 2001). The need for the organization to take immediate action was underlined by “the grounding of...
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