IMO extends Manila Amendment refresher deadline

Jan 3, 2017 by Capt. Brian Luke

I have written much in these pages over the past year concerning the 2010 Manila Amendments to the STCW Convention. And I am compelled to do so yet again because there has been an important decision made by the Maritime Safety Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) at the final hour of mandated implementation of those Amendments.

After reading this, go online and view MSC.1/Circ.1560 issued on Dec. 5 by the IMO. The Manila Amendment requirements deadline for refresher training — HELM and ECDIS, among others — has been “extended” beyond Jan. 1.

As most mariners are aware, by Jan. 1, the Manila Amendments were supposed to come into full effect. All this past year I have heard crew murmuring about how there will be too many certificate holders unable to meet this deadline. The Maritime Safety Committee, which is the highest technical body of the IMO, recently noted that “a large number of certificates needed to be issued by certificate-issuing parties confirming that their seafarers complied with the provisions of the 2010 Manila Amendments to the STCW Convention”.

Simply put, there were still many certificate holders that had not yet complied with the new Manila Amendments.

The Maritime Safety Committee was concerned that so close to the end of the five-year transition period, which began Jan. 1, 2012, seafarers in some member states were reportedly unable to obtain certificates and/or the necessary endorsements.

I must admit that I was skeptical as to whether everyone could possibly receive the appropriate training by this date. But the truth is that the IMO could have made the date Jan. 1, 2020, and we would still struggle to get all seafarers in compliance.

Many can’t understand why it is so difficult, considering we have had five years to complete this task. In reality, trying to get the entire world into compliance by any specific date is a huge endeavor. No matter what date we apply, there will be those who cannot or will not come into compliance by that date.

At its 97th session, which ended on Nov. 25, the Committee was particularly concerned about the fact that, so close to the imminent end of this STCW Convention delineated transition period, seafarers in some member states were reportedly unable to obtain certificates and/or the necessary endorsements required by the 2010 Manila Amendments to the Convention. The Committee therefore urged all concerned, including certificate-issuing parties and administrations, to do their utmost to ensure that seafarers were issued with the appropriate certificates and necessary endorsements.

The Committee recognized that some seafarers on board ships may not yet hold their certificates or flag state endorsements meeting the 2010 Manila Amendments to the Convention, and urged Port State Control authorities to take the above factors into consideration when taking action under Port State Control regulations.

Due to the large number of seafarers who do not yet hold certificates for updated safety training (refresher training) in accordance with the Manila Amendments, the IMO has specifically requested that Port State Control organizations take a “pragmatic and practical approach” until July 1, 2017. This is simply a request and is non-binding, but it should ease concerns about yachts being detained in the first half of 2017 for crew members not in compliance with the Manila Amendments to the STCW Code.

This is good news for all those crew members that have not yet done their updating or refresher training.

Remember, this is a request by the IMO to all member states with Port State Control to allow for a bit of leniency until July 1. There are no guaranties that Port State Control will not detain a yacht, however with a circular like this from the IMO, it is highly unlikely.

Based upon individual Port State Control response to this non-binding request, it appears that seafarers now have six additional months to get their certificates into compliance. To Keep Your Career On Course, do not wait any longer as it is highly unlikely that there will be another extension like this one.


Capt. Brian Luke is president of Bluewater Crew Training USA (formerly ICT) in Ft. Lauderdale. Comments are welcome at