Crew to document five courses within five years for STCW

Mar 31, 2015 by Capt. Brian Luke

The Manila Amendments bring significant changes for all seafarers, specifically the requirement to update certain elements of the mandatory STCW Basic Safety Training. According to the IMO, and therefore the MCA, there are now five basic courses that need to be updated by crew every five years.

These requirements affect crew and all vessels subject to port state control. Vessels are now required to provide documentary evidence that within the previous five years all employed seafarers have met the appropriate updated training requirements. If crew cannot provide evidence of such training and revalidation, then the vessel could be put at risk and potentially fail port state inspection.

MCA Marine Information Note (MIN) 469 specifies which STCW elements require updating and which crew are subject to it. For those in the yachting industry, this includes OOWs, chief mates, engineers and masters. Additionally, for other crew, the MCA states that “…if you are serving on board ship and are qualified in any of the following you must, as of 1 January 2017, have documentary evidence of either completing the training course or updating training within the last five years”:

  • Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting (STCW Table A-VI/1-2)
  • Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats Other Than Fast Rescue Boats (STCW Table A-VI/2-1) (Advanced Sea Survival, for yacht ratings)
  • Proficiency in Fast Rescue Boats (STCW Table A-VI/2-2)
  • Advanced Fire Fighting (STCW Table A-VI/3)

In the superyacht industry, generally speaking, this means that if you are working onboard in the capacity of stew, deckhand, bosun or OOW <3000 gt yachts, you will only need to update Personal Survival Techniques and Fire Fighting.

Those operating in the capacity of chief mate, engineer (Y1, Y2, Y3 and Y4) or master <3000 gt yachts will need to also add Proficiency in Advanced Fire Fighting and Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats Other Than Fast Rescue Boats (PSCRB). The MCA allows those in the yachting industry to substitute Advanced Sea Survival for the PSCRB requirement. Those holding a chief mate or master <3000 gt yachts Certificate of Competency (CoC) need to update Advance Sea Survival.

Fortunately, STCW permits some elements of the updating training (the preceeding bullet points) to be completed onboard. With the exception of fire fighting, the MCA takes advantage of this through a self-declaration form found in the annex of MIN 469.

The good news is that by completing much of the required training elements while onboard, less time is required training at an authorized training center, saving crew time away and out-of-pocket expenses.

As an example for self-declaration, let’s look at Personal Survival Techniques. Within the self-declaration form, crew declare that within the previous five years they have completed onboard training and gained experience for maintaining the required standard of competence in each of the following areas:

  • Donning a life jacket
  • Boarding a survival craft from the ship while wearing a life jacket
  • Taking initial actions on boarding a lifeboat to enhance chance of survival
  • Streaming a lifeboat drogue or sea anchor
  • Operating survival craft equipment
  • Operating location devices, including radio equipment

Crew who can legitimately declare they have accomplished these six elements in the previous five years can reduce the required authorized training center time in PST from a one-day course to four hours.

Additional self-declaration forms may be filled out and signed for PSCRB (Advanced Sea Survival, yachts) and Advanced Fire Fighting (AFF can be reduced from one day to four hours).

The MCA goes on to state that “the reason FP&FF (Fire Prevention & Fire Fighting) is not included in this option is that the elements of training permitted to be carried out on board would not significantly reduce time of the shore-based program”.

For those of us working in the yachting industry, we now need to attend update/refresher training every five years. Depending on qualifications and position onboard, crew will be required to update anywhere from two to four courses.

By planning ahead, crew may be able to reduce training time and costs significantly, helping keep your career on course.

Capt. Brian Luke is chief operations officer for International Crew Training in Ft. Lauderdale. He is an airline captain and holds a USCG 1600/3000-ton master’s ticket. ICT trains crew for entry-level through 3000 ITC Master licenses, engineering and interior operations. Comments on this column are welcome at