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STCW Manila Amendments
An international conference held in June 2010 and hosted by the Metropolitan Manila was to amend the STCW Convention of 1978 (Weintrit & Neumann, 2013). The conference was to make significant amendments concerning important seafarers’ roles in international shipping. Besides, it proposed a ‘Seafarers Day’ on June 25, which was the last day of the five-day conference. The meeting was attended by 85 states parties, 23 international organizations, three IMO associate members, and one observer state. The convention marked a major revision of the 1978 STWC Code and Convention that had already existed for 15 years since its amendment in 1995. The new requirements were implemented on January 2012 with the aim of addressing certain issues that would affect the current and future developments.
Importance of the Amendments
For the efficient and safe ships operations, seafarers should be competent, which ensures that the marine environment is protected and the life in the sea is safe. Better changes of the first STCW Convention of 1978 ensure that seafarers maintain high standards during ship operations. The amendments also ensure that STCW standards remain relevant in ensuring sailors develop and uphold professional skills (Kraska & Pedrozo, 2013). For instance, the changes require engineers to operate using equipment that prevents pollution, and they ensure that deck officers have skills of using Electronic Charts Display and Information Systems (ECDIS). In addition, the amendments also require that certificates of competence be verified in order to ensure that the working staff has the skills needed to perform ship operations efficiently.
The other importance of the STWC 2010 Amendment is that the new convention provides opportunities for teamwork and leadership. Engine and deck officers have been added competence requirements in teamwork as well as managerial and leadership skills (Weintrit & Neumann, 2013). The new convention calls for training of senior officers as well as junior officers who are required to work directly in ship operations. Junior officers can now operate with senior officers or master personnel regarding safety matters.
The training required by the new convention include record book training, which requires deck and engine officers and trainees to use record books that should be supervised by a responsible officer. The other training includes that of the security, refresher, and tanker to ensure ships are secure, and gas, oil, and chemical tankers are safe as well as provide basic safety measures such as first-aid and firefighting (Burns, 2014). Working and resting hours were also revised, providing more resting hours for seafarers to reduce fatigue and ensure that they are fit for work. Nevertheless, the STCW harmonized labor and rest hours with those of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) adopted in 2006 with the (ILO) International Labour Organization.
Notably, the new STCW introduces new certification and grade requirements for the engine and deck seafarers. In the electro-technical rating and officer positions, new competence certification and standards have been introduced. The positions supplement the already existing able seafarer-engine position to ensure flexibility in roles and career development of the seafarers (Craine, Fink, & Compton, 2010). The amendments also provided improved measures that avert fraudulent practices of providing fake competency certificates through strengthening of the evaluation process, which involves monitoring of state parties by the convention’s compliance requirements.
Additionally, the new STCW has added medical fitness requirements and standards before certification of seafarers. The requirement ensures seafarers’ health well-being when performing ship operations. It also requires prevention of drug and alcohol use during ship operations to avoid poor decision-making. The precise limits provided include 0.25mg/L and 0.05% alcohol levels in breath and blood respectively (Mukherjee, Brownrigg, & Farthing, 2013).
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The environment has become an important topic in today’s world, especially with the high rates of global warming. Therefore, the newly amended STCW has put environment into consideration. In particular, it encourages environmental training, where engine and deck officers should train on using equipment that prevents pollution of the air as well as the marine environment (Craine, Fink, & Compton, 2010). They should also train on procedures that should be taken when pollution accidents occur.
With the new STCW Manila amendments, employees in the maritime industry have gained more flexible learning methods when they want to go back to school. The changes have introduced modern training methods that include web-based and distance learning (Weintrit & Neumann, 2013). Staffs can now learn in school and work at the same time without seeking for study leaves. Moreover, they can now learn from home.
While people seek for training and a certificate to qualify as a seafarer in the maritime industry, trainers have the advantage of high pay from the large group of individuals attending the classes. Strong demand for knowledge of the short courses from the new people planning to join the maritime industry as well as the existing employees increases the number of trainees (Craine, Fink, & Compton, 2010). Therefore, it calls for more teachers who are expected to earn high salaries. The new amendments, thus, benefit trainers who have expertise in the field of seafaring.
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On/Off Hire Surveys
The operations in the marine industry have significantly changed since the amendment of the STCW Convention of 1978 and 1995. From on and off hire surveys, these changes have been noticed, which have greatly improved ship operations. First, seafarers’ resting hours have been increased from 70 to 77 hours in every seven days (Dickie, 2014). Seafarers are now required to review and sign the record book, which shows their resting and working hours, at least every month. The records help the masters ensure that seafarers comply with the stipulated minimum resting hours.
The new standards proposed after the STCW Convention have enhanced the safety of the mariners. Electrical systems have been improved through the use of electrical systems of high voltage, which are regularly maintained. The maritime industry has also widely adopted cold ironing electrical propulsion and dynamic speed drives, which have all increased the voltage systems of the shipboard (Thomas & Vaduva, 2015). The systems, therefore, provide efficient services that guarantee better safety to mariners and people on ships.
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Issuance of STCW certification has increased as from January 2012 seafarers with the new certificates are trying to meet the new requirements and undergoing the necessary training to improve their services and skills. They have refresher training, which predetermines that their certificated are validated by January 2017 (Bakardzhieva, 2015). Employers are also informing the staffs, especially the new ones, about training that needs to be taken and the certificates issued after any training. Additionally, training and new standards are implemented in time to make employees get used to the new changes in the maritime industry as well as protect the marine environment as soon as possible.
Security is one of the main important matters in the marine industry as it ensures that people are working in the environment conducive to giving the best performance. Security training has, therefore, improved since the amendment convention, and seafarers are continually undergoing training and are certified for a good job done in the security sector (Mukherjee, Brownrigg, & Farthing, 2013). One of the main areas security trainees should consider during their training is the anti-piracy, which is the main source of insecurity in the maritime industry. The training is expected to reduce piracy issues.
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Medical certification is another important area that the amendment of the STCW has improved since 2010. Seafarers have issued a medical certificate that complies with the present requirements. The certification ensures that seafarers stay fit during work and are provided with proper medication when ill. Proper off period is also provided to ensure seafarers heal properly before getting back to work (Dickie, 2014). By 2017, sailors are supposed to have improved medical certificates that offer better protection to the staff.
Grade and certification are now strictly evaluated before employing people in the industry to ensure that the best are given the opportunity to provide the top-quality service to the customers (Craine, Fink, & Compton, 2010). Qualification documents are evaluated to confirm that they are real and whether the candidate has the necessary certification needed to work in a certain department in the maritime industry. Electro-technical officers and able seafarers are obtaining new certification according to the new requirements (Burns, 2014). Drug abuse is strictly checked by testing sailors regularly to ensure that workers are not intoxicated during working hours. The practice has helped reduce avoidable accidents that are caused by drug use.
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New learning technologies, especially computer-based learning, have increased the number of workers with a certificate of competency, which is the license that allows an individual to work in the maritime industry (Weintrit & Neumann, 2013). Additionally, these licensed seafarers have better skills and knowledge, and thus are cautious about protecting the public and the marine environment. Surveys show that, since the implementation of the new amendments, pollution of the marine environment has significantly reduced.
The number of people traveling using ships has increased because of the improved electric systems and equipment that allow the ship to hold more people. People are also confident when going, because they are guaranteed of proper service and safety provided by the licensed officers (Weintrit & Neumann, 2013). They are also offered the best security measures in case of emergencies that need quick medical attention.
Expansion of the maritime services due to increased facilities has increased the number of workers in the industry. Therefore, many people who meet the essential requirements of the STCW regulations, such as obtaining the certificate of competency, have secured excellent job opportunities in the industry (Craine, Fink, & Compton, 2010). The industry, in turn, gains benefits from the exceptional services offered by the licensed seafarers that mostly satisfy the customers.
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The amendment of the STCW Manila 1978 and 1995 convention has given rise to significant changes that have updated the code and conventions to align with the current and possibly the future developments. The changes have also helped in addressing issues affected the marine environment, e.g. pollution, and seafarers, such as flexibility at work. Additionally, questions that have been long assumed have been discussed, for example, certification of workers, in order to ensure that they can provide better services. Qualification and training are the other important issues that the convention had left aside, which are significant in preparing and making seafarers competent for their tasks on board ships. However, with the changes involved, parties have made maritime services efficient by the use of better electrical systems and having better-qualified seafarers who can be trusted with their work.
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