Will STCW amendments make things easy for seafarers?

Apr 28, 2010, 10:12AM EST
Will STCW amendments make things easy for seafarers?
While proposing amendments to the Standards of Training, Certification and Watch Keeping Convention, India hopes to resolve several issues that beleaguer seafaring.


As the Comprehensive revision of STCW Convention 2010 comes up for consideration and adoption at IMO’s meet at Manila from 21st to 25 June, 2010 those who represent India have given their final touches to the country’s proposals. The amendments as presented to the stakeholders last week at a government sponsored seminar are designed to make life at sea much easier for the seafaring community.


The Director General of Shipping, Ms Lakshmi Venkatachalam, said that there were nearly 55,000 officer cadets graduating each year but only around 35,000 to 40,000 get training berths on board the ship which is essential for getting employment on a ship. If on-board training period of 18 months were to be cut down to 12 months, then there should be enough training slots for every one.     


The Chief Surveyor, Amatava Banerjee stated, “When Standards of Training Certification and Watch Keeping (STCW 95) Convention came into force it was difficult to implement it because one was dealing with human beings and one has to take decisions during very crucial, difficult and hectic moments. Hence, when a captain gets news of some one being ill at home IMO has no solution. It only ends up being very prescriptive.” He hoped the comprehensive revision would take care to streamline similar problems.


“The objectives of the proposed amendments are to bring in more aspirants into seafaring so as to help reduce the marine officers’ shortage,” contended Subrat Mukherjee, General Manager (Fleet Personnel) of Orient Express Ship Management and Honorary Secretary of the Institute of Marine Engineers (I) Navi Mumbai Chapter. “Basically our proposals are in line with that of EU and other developed countries for reducing the time taken for grooming officers specially engineers by eliminating all the basics and theoretical topics and restricting the training to each concerned officer cadet’s area of operation. Making them mere operators may jeopardize their future careers.”


Those who were instrumental in suggesting changes came up with exceptional grounds for introducing the amendments. Among the proposals presented by Capt Mahesh Yadav, Training Director of FOSMA included issues like ‘captains being relieved from watch-keeping because of the heavy burden of responsibilities and duties he carries; reduction in training in the operational level which now being 30 months education and training to be replaced by combined workshop skill training and on board training of 12 months.


Capt K Deboo, Principal and Director of Anglo Eastern Training Centre recommended elimination of irrelevant courses such as celestial and ice navigation, et al. Similarly, courses for oil and chemical tankers and also those for liquid / gas and another for tankers could be clubbed together.      


In the final analysis it is to be seen if maritime countries agree to a reduction in the extensive three years training time by half which could draw more people to the fold of seafaring and at the same time factor in professionalism.

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