Although tedious, several experts advise that crew stay informed about course requirements that affect STCW, Officer of the Watch, Efficient Deckhand, Human Element Leadership and Management, ECDIS and more.
“It is important for crew to understand changes,” said Mike French, president of International Crew Training in Ft. Lauderdale. “Some of these will hit them in the pocket.
“The average spend for OOW equals about two more weeks, potentially a couple of thousand dollars,” he said.
Julie Liberatore, manager of student administration at Maritime Professional Training (MPT) in Ft. Lauderdale, recommended crew stay organized and know the route they are on.
“It is hard for crew to get time off,” Liberatore said. “They want to plan ahead so training is not so burdensome or intimidating.”
Some of the courses are finalized and some are still being clarified. Liberatore quoted Roger Towner, chief examiner of MCA, who introduced the list with, “you’ll be renewing wet stuff and hot stuff.”
“For example, we’re in the five-year phase-in for STCW,” Liberatore said. “Don’t wait until the end to update.”
There is a two-and-a-half-day refresher course for STCW, lifeboat, basic firefighting and advanced firefighting; there is no sea time requirement, but there will be training requirements. Liberatore said there will also be a security training course at the STCW level.
“It is not defined yet, but it will be for security officers and others working with security issues,” she said. “And an environmental course will also be coming. We are unsure if this will be able to be taught within the current course, or if we will be able to drop something.”
STCW changes go into effect in 2017, but the UK has passed legislation to implement the new STCW beginning July 1.
HELM (human element leadership and management) training is also recommended. And there is a master level version also.
There is the Efficient Deckhand (EDH) five-day course to improve basic seamanship with things like knots and basic safety.
“There just isn’t that culture anymore, so they are just trying to improve conditions,” ICT’s French said. “It’s been around since the 1920s, but it’s now being implemented.”
As of July, the MCA’s OOW training will require an EDH certificate. This means that if a crew member applies for a Notice of Eligibility (NOE) for the oral exam after July 1, he or she will be required to submit an EDH certificate.
In addition to the EDH training requirement, MCA Master candidates and Y2 and Y1 engineers will need to complete a five-day leadership and management course. OOW candidates (Y4 and Y3 candidates) will need to undertake a three-day version.
And there is a new written exam for celestial navigation at the chief mate level. No course is required, but the subject will be tested in the exam sequence, French said.
Electronic Chart Display and Information System certification will be required for crew who work on vessels that have it.
“ECDIS is coming with a 2017 deadline,” French said. “Crew need to start training now because they often wait until the last minute and it’s possible that there will not be enough facilities to teach everyone who will need to be qualified.”
Deck officers who do not have the certificate will carry a negative endorsement that reads “not for use on ECDIS-equipped ships.”
There is a high-voltage course for engineers on ships where the distribution board has more than one kilovolt. Without it, certificates will have a negative endorsement.
In reference to hiring practices under the MLC 2006 (which comes into effect in August), there are changes in crew agreements, according to Angela Wilson, senior crew agent and office manager at Elite Crew International in Ft. Lauderdale.
“We make sure crew know their rights and have the contract before they go to the job,” Wilson said. “This gives them a chance to read through and understand the agreement.
“Ten years ago it was a handshake,” she said. “Now crew have contracts defining hours, leave, repatriation, standard operating procedures and confidentiality. These will alleviate horror stories of crew being left at the docks. And now there is a complaint form for crew.”
Wilson said there are no changes required in resumes.
“Photos and information are placed at will,” she said. “If crew don’t want to use their photo, they don’t have to. It is up to crew.”
Although there appear to be many changes in licensing and credential requirements, French said it is not true that some in the industry are creating regulations just for the money.
“The MCA is reluctant to add more courses,” French said.
“Licensing is not a conspiracy,” Liberatore said. “For most mariners it is not going to affect them. It’s not crumpling up the rules, tossing and starting over. Some of this is tweaking.”
Liberatore said although it is time to plan, there is no need to panic.
“These things are never without time to implement,” she said. “They never say ‘surprise’.”
Dorie Cox is associate editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome at email@example.com.