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By Dorie Cox
The new year is coming quickly and it’s possible crew could be the source of a problem for the yacht if they have not completed their refresher courses.
“Imagine you’re on charter, the Italian Port State Control comes on board and finds a crew that has not had his refresher,” said Capt. Roger Towner, chief examiner of Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA). “The charter does not go.”
Refresher courses were just one of the topics Towner spoke on for a group of about 30 crew and yacht professionals at the Professional Yachting Association (PYA) seminar yesterday.
He said crew need to be aware if they are compliant. Now is the time to be in-date for Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats (PSC), Proficiency in Survival Craft (Lifeboat), Basic Fire, and if needed, Fast Rescue Boat (FRB).
“Who’s responsible?” he asked the audience. “The master should check if crew are up to date, but it’s the crew’s responsibility.”
Crew are required to take the refresher if their license is more than five years old.
“Schools are geared up, but there are lots of people who have not done it,” Towner said.
A crew in the audience said he heard that a regular license, without refreshers, was not valid.
“It’s not true,” he said. “You do not have to do it again, just the refresher, not the whole course.”
Another course that may be required for crew is Advanced Sea Survival to enable crew to get the equivalent of the lifeboat certification. The course is required of crew who have lifeboat launch duties. It has been renamed Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boat [Except Fast Rescue Boat] Restricted and must be refreshed by the end of next year, Towner said. All schools that already offer the course also have the half-day refresher course.
Towner answered an unasked yacht industry question: Does MCA make this stuff up?
“No, most of this is from STCW [Standards of Training, Certification & Watchkeeping for Seafarers] but it has been adjusted to fulfill your needs,” he said, citing an example where the master needs stability training, but not to the same level as crew on commercial vessels.
Towner discussed two topics that could affect crew sea time. The MCA works with RYA for the Officer of the Watch (OOW) needed for the offshore license. He said it requires thousands of miles.
“We were finding crew get their first job on a very big boat and the RYA wants to see sea time on small boats,” he said. “We said we all need RYA Coastal with 800 miles instead.”
The change is being introduced and the MCA M-Notice should be coming soon, he said.
The other sea time topic involves the places where crew submit their sea service time. Most send it to MCA.
“Now the new option is to send to PYA, Nautilus International or MCA,” Towner said. But after January, the MCA insists sea time should be sent to PYA and Nautilus.
“If you continue to send sea time to MCA, that could cause a delay,” he said. “It is a resource and validation issue.”
His final topic addressed interior staff training.
“The MCA is aware of the problems with interior staff having few minimum requirements,” he said. “They have STCW but we don’t insist on professional training. There is no intention to make mandatory courses because these are not safety and security issues, but we may endorse the GUEST scheme. We are not saying it would have to be mandatory, but it will be recognized.”
If masters and management companies and others want to make it mandatory, that is up to them, he said. Basically it is the industry’s choice as to how mandatory it is.
Joey Meen, PYA director of training and certification, discussed the GUEST interior crew training and certification program.
“Seven years ago, we developed this on the back of crew complaints,” she said. “Crew got certificates,
but no one knew the value of their training.”
The courses have grown to a three-tiered training program taken by 5,000 crew at 23 accredited schools, she said.
“We update and keep on trend,” Meen said. “And we want the industry to appreciate crew that come onboard and know what they’re doing.”
John Wyborn, training director of Bluewater, is working with a group to change the Training Record Book (TRB).
“We want to make this more than a signature book,” Wyborn said. “The idea is to encourage training and mentoring. It is lacking in this industry.”
Dorie Cox is editor of Triton Today. Comment below.