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STCW 95 and ISM CODE: Are we getting them right?


“Fortunately the technological revolution which is now underway offers immense opportunities for improving quality in the industry. However, these will  only  be of benefit if they are properly implemented or, to put it simply, they must be seen to be beneficial by the seafarers and put into practice on board the ships. No matter how innovative and dramatic these may be the end result depends on the training, skills and expertise of the people involved. The bottom line is that people really are the key to quality.”

(From a speech of  Mr. William A. O’neil, Secretary General, International Maritime Organization,  Posidonia Congress, Athens, 2 June 2000.)


  1. Standard of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Convention 1978, as amended in 1995 (STCW-95):

If we compare the STCW-95 with all other IMO conventions we immediately note a key difference. Whereas all other  conventions deal mainly with  equipment, machinery,  structure etc. i.e. material standards or hardware side, the STCW-95 is basically about human standards or the software side of system. It is therefore very crucial that a standard which effects humans must be applied humanely. 

STCW -95 is very complex convention. Despite IMO’s excellent efforts through its circulars and other publications for the purpose  of achieving a unified interpretation many of its provisions are still being applied differently by port state control (PSC) authorities, flag states administrations (FSA) and companies.  This has caused considerable hardship to seafarers.  Some of the key regulations of STCW-95 which effect a large number of seafarers due to varying interpretations would be discussed in following paragraphs.

Regulation I/11: Revalidation of Certificates

(Sections A-I/11 and B-I/!!):

This regulation is only related to the revalidation of certificates of masters, officers and radio operators issued under any chapter other than chapter VI. The certificates of ratings forming part of navigational or engine-room watch or a certificate or document entitling a  rating to serve on a tanker and any certificate or document issued  pursuant to chapter VI therefore do not require revalidation. Accordingly certificates of ratings forming part of navigational or engine-room watch issued as per the previous requirements of STCW-78 do not need upgrading or revalidation and are therefore valid for sea service. Also the  revalidation of certificates under this regulation is not mandatory until January 31, 2002.  Till  than the certificates revalidated under the old regime of STCW-78 are valid for sea service.

Despite these facts many authorities demand that ratings holding STCW-78 certificates  should carry  certificate issued under regulation II/4 of  STCW-95.


Regulation I/6: (Training and Assessment)

(Sections A-I/6 and B-I/6):


This  is a totally new regulation with no parallel in STCW-78. It requires that training and assessment whether onboard or ashore:

·        should be structured in accordance with written programmmes; and

·        instructors, supervisors and assessors should be qualified for the task.


One of the key differences between STCW-78 and STCW-95 is that whereas the former required attaining a specified level of knowledge the latter demands acquiring a certain level of well defined  skills. In this respect the importance of systematic onboard training becomes imperative.Unfortunately not  many companies or even FSAs have fully realized the importance of this regultion.  It is no longer a matter of simply doing  “sea time” Poor onboard training can be a serious impediment in the career progress of a trainee

Regulation V/1: Mandatory minimum requirements for the training

and qualification of masters, officers and ratings on tankers

(Section A-V/1):

The regulation V/1.1 is applicable to officers, and ratings assigned specific duties and responsibilities related to cargo or cargo operations on tankers. This regulation requires that these officers and ratings should complete an approved tanker familiarization course. But officers and ratings who have completed an approved seagoing service of at least three months are not required to take this course. But many seafarers despite having years of sea  service on tankers have, either on the insistence of FSAs or their employers, attended this course.

In STCW-78 there was a different course for each type of tanker. But the tanker familiarization course stipulated in this regulation should cover all three types of tankers: oil, chemical  and gas.  There is no course which is named as  “Oil Tanker Familiarization Course”  in STCW-95. However many seafarers are still being issued with, though incorrectly,  “Oil Tanker Familiarization Certificate”  under regulation V-/I.1.2 of STCW-95.  Such seafarers, for no fault of their, suffer great deal of hardship when this anomaly is detected by a vigilant PSC inspector.


Regulation VI/1 (Mandatory minimum requirements for familiarization, basic  safety training and instruction for all seafarers) (Section  A - VI/1 and B -VI/1):

This regulation is related to elementary training to be given to new comers. Yet this is the regulation that has caused a lot of confusion. This regulation stipulates familiarization training (regulation VI/1.1) and basic training (regulation VI/1.2).

 Before we discuss  further the implication of this very important regulation it is essential to consider the various categories defined in STCW - 95. The categories defined in the Convention are: master, officers, radio operators, ratings, persons (employed or engaged on a seagoing ship other than passengers) and Seafarers (employed or engaged in any capacity on board ship on the business of ship as part of the ship’s complement with designated safety and pollution prevention duties).

The familiarization training is applicable to persons working on board  as shop assistants, hair dressers, entertainers repair personnel etc.  This training is about basic survival techniques. Scope of this familiarization training  is very narrow as compared to  familiarization referred to in regulation I/14.1.4  of STCW-95 or in clause 6.3 of ISM Code. It is essential that all those connected with seafarers’ training appreciate these differences to fully comprehend the purpose and intent of these requirements.

There are four component in the basic training: personnel survival techniques, fire prevention and fire fighting, elementary first aid and personnel safety and social responsibilities. The specification of these courses clearly indicates there elementary nature. Yet many  experienced ratings,  senior officers even masters seafarers on the insistence of either FSAs or their employers have taken these course.



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Dear Members
kindly note that submission of Nomination form has been extended till 9 May 2015, due to annual dinner event. Ensure that the Nomination form should reach MMSP office on or 9 May 2015.

Capt. Khawaja Wasiuddin Siddiqi Dupty Election Commissioner


To honour
Chief Patron of MMSP and Chief of Naval Staff Who has kindly consented to be the Chief Guest on this Occasion at Convention Hall, Pakistan Maritime Museum Near Karsaz, Karachi,
on Friday, the 24 April 2015

at 2000 hrs

All members and Mariners are requested to collect their cards from MMSP Secretariat.
Ph 32418784
cell 0333-3113265
or call Capt. Nusrat Iqbal (GS-MMSP) Cell: 0300-8245399
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If, we go into time Tunnel, the era from 2003-2007, efforts were made to convert Pakistan Marine Academy to Pakistan Maritime University, so that different faculties of Maritime education may be established locally.


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Monthly Meeting :


May 14, 2015

Executive Committee Meeting of Master Mariner Society of Pakistan will be held at 17.30 Hrs. at Room No 18, Old Ralli Brothers Building, Talpur Road, Karachi.

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