On 5 April, the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) published a Merchant Information Notice (MIN 543) to confirm the delegation of the verification of Sea Service Testimonials (SSTs), under UK-flag jurisdiction, to the Professional Yachting Association (PYA) and Nautilus International (Nautilus).
As of 24 May 2017, sea service must be verified by an MCA-approved organisation – an arrangement initially set out by Roger Towner, registrar general of shipping and seamen of the MCA, at the 2016 Monaco Yacht Show and Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.
The MIN formalises the arrangement for the large yacht sector and warns seafarers that if sea service is submitted to them without having been verified in advance, it may result in a delay of around 160 days.
The MCA requires evidence of sea service in support of seafarer’s applications for a Notice of Eligibility (NoE) or a revalidated Certificate of Competency (CoC).
The involvement of PYA and Nautilus will be to streamline the verification process – furthering the delegation of services to suitably qualified organisations with which the MCA has continued assurance – for crew through their respective Service Record Books (SRBs), which are approved by the MCA.
“We’ve been verifying sea service for the MCA for 25 years and we are accredited under the ISO Quality Management system, so we’re not expecting a huge change, other than we will be receiving more submissions and there will be a larger workload for our SRB department,” says Carey Secrett, marketing & development manager at PYA.
“But, we’ve been carefully audited to make sure the processes for verifying sea service are completely watertight, which is why we’re able to do it today on the MCA's behalf,” she adds.
It’s the established superyachting connections that will be of great benefit in this delegation, Danny McGowan, strategic organiser for Nautilus, advocates. “The MCA has very established communication channels in commercial capacities, but it’s not as clear-cut in the yachting sector, because of the different holding companies, agents and employers used by the yachts. Our direct contacts will be of great use and I believe that will have been a central reason for designating Nautilus and the PYA to assist them with this process.”
The delegation looks to be appropriate to relieve pressure on the MCA and catalyse growth within fit-for-purpose organisations.