Last week saw the Professional Yachting Association (PYA) host their annual ‘Sea Changes' seminar during the Antibes Yacht Show. Guest speakers included Roger Towner from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), Richard Falk from the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and Joey Meen from the PYA. In the first part of the write up of the seminar, The Crew Report brings you the training and certification updates that were discussed by Towner, of which some provoked some interesting debates.

First on the agenda was to clear up any confusion surrounding the newly introduced Security Awareness Course, details of which The Crew Report has covered in a recent article. “There is a lot of nonsense being banded around about the Security Awareness Course,” explained Towner. “What has happened, and this is where the rumours have started, is that during a meeting hosted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in January, many of the leading administrations announced that they did not have time to implement this new requirement. The IMO refused to change the date of implementation but instead they agreed to write a letter to the Paris MoU to ask that Port State Control officers do not take action against vessels that do not comply with the new security requirements, as long as they comply with all other ISPS requirements. This is the agreement until June 2015, however, this is not to say that these requirements are not enforced.”

PYA seminar hosted by (from left to right) Richard Le Quesne, Joey Meen, Richard Falk and Roger Towner.

Training for engineers was the next hot topic and provoked some strong opinions from an audience of captains, crew, training providers and many others. “Engineering is a bone of contention in the yachting industry, so we have been thinking that the current system should be restructured,” began Towner. “Why should we have a separate engineer certificate for a yacht, separate certificate for a tanker and a separate certificate for a fishing vessel when there are many similarities across the board? On 2 May 2014, the MCA will be having a meeting with representatives from PYA, fishing and tug industry to find some way of getting these qualifications for fairly low level engineers into a scheme that will work across these sectors of the maritime world. Nothing has been decided but we think that this will be a much better qualification for engineers to be able to move between sectors.”

This statement was met with a retort from one of the members of the audience. “The bone of contention is the current content of the syllabus; there are so many things involving so much equipment that you would never find on a yacht,” he interjected, and asked whether this was going to be reviewed in the discussions.

“I believe so, but bearing in mind what the other sectors of the industry want also,” replied Towner. “This is the time to rationalise the systems as nothing is written in stone. We don’t want to perpetuate something that isn’t working. So this is the time that we are all going to get together and I am sure this is going to be the first of many meetings.” John Wyborn, training director at Bluewater, will be in attendance at the meetings as the coordinator of the PYA’s career and progression sub group for engineers and expressed his opinion that the current training system in place for engineering is dysfunctional. He encouraged anyone with strong opinions that they would like to contribute to get in touch so that they can be represented in the discussions.

“Engineering is a bone of contention in the yachting industry, so we have been thinking that the current system should be restructured.”

Towner then alerted the audience to the fact that, on 7 August this year, the whole Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) will come into force. “You have to read it and see what applies to you,” he advised, and added that the MCA is currently working on publishing relevant guidance notes in time for August. Points that Towner particularly emphasised were that all new vessels must comply with the LY3 accommodation requirements and that all seafarers on board will need a Seafarers Employment Agreement. Discussion about the introduction of the Ship’s Cook certificate, however, raised the most eyebrows in the room.

“Any unqualified chefs that cook on a yacht for ten or more crewmembers will have to get a Ship’s Cook certificate,” said Towner. “At the moment this is a six-month long course but the MCA are currently in discussion with the PYA to offer the option of a three-week assessment which will assess hygiene and quality of cooking.” The Crew Report will be expanding on this further for readers when final decisions between the PYA and MCA are made.

As a final note, Towner made reference to the fact that there may be some good news in the future for captains and crew that have recorded their seatime thorugh other administrations. “We are considering that when someone comes to us from another administration, for example Australia, should we continue to discount it and make them start again as far as his seatime is concerned?” asks Towner. “The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has requested to attend the MCA’s LY3 meetings so it looks like a dialogue might start up between AMSA and MCA. But we are only starting to wonder about this.”