1 January, 2017, is a date that has been cemented in the diaries of superyacht crew all over the world. It’s the date refresher training comes into play, whereby all crew, under the STCW Code, must have taken their basic safety training within the last five years and, moving forward, must update it every five years.

Let’s start with exactly which courses are included in the refresher training:

  1. Personal Survival Techniques (PST)
  2. Fire Prevention and Firefighting
  3. Advanced Firefighting (AFF)
  4. Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats (PSC and RB)
  5. Fast Rescue Boats

During the Professional Yachting Association’s (PYA) Sea Changes Seminar at the Monaco Yacht Show, it was mentioned that some aspects of the refresher training could be done on board – but which aspects in particular?

There are two options for superyacht crew: take the full set of refresher training courses shoreside, or do some training on board, allowing for a shorter shoreside component. “Crew do not need to complete the full original shore-based courses, as long as they [have received their certificates] within the five years. However there does not appear to be any guidance on for candidates who let the five-year anniversary date pass by,” explains Paul Russell, senior marine training consultant at Viking Recruitment’s Maritime Skills Academy.

For those crew who choose to do some of the training on board and as such take the shorter shoreside course, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has provided a checklist for self-declaration of actions completed on board, which, Russell outlines, is as follows:

Personal Survival Techniques:

  • Don a lifejacket
  • Board a survival craft from the ship, while wearing a lifejacket
  • Take initial actions on boarding a lifeboat to enhance chance of survival
  • Stream a lifeboat drogue or sea-anchor
  • Operate survival craft equipment
  • Operate location devices

Advanced Firefighting:

  • Control firefighting operations on board ships
  • Firefighting procedures at sea and in port, with particular emphasis on organisation, tactics and command
  • Communication and coordination during firefighting operations
  • Ventilation control, including smoke extraction
  • Control of fuel and electrical systems
  • Firefighting process hazards such as chemicals and boilers
  • Management and control of injured persons
  • Procedures for coordinating with shore-based firefighters

“The [self-declaration] form also requires the students to identify when, and aboard which vessel, they completed the tasks shown above,” Russell adds.

On-board training is not an option for Fire Prevention and Firefighting, as this is all done in dedicated shore-based facilities, explains Russell.

When it comes to the PSC and RB or lifeboat certificates, Russell adds: “Full Merchant Navy certificate holders will need a full PSC and RB certificate to revalidate their certificate of competency. The yacht-specific equivalent of the PSC and RB is Advanced Sea Survival but this is no good for Merchant Navy certificate holders. Roger Towner [Registrar general of shipping and seamen at the MCA] is still working on the yacht pathway for this certificate and we should know the outcome very soon,” adds Russell.

So how should superyachts go about doing their training? “It looks like most yachts will want to organise their on-board training around the two lists shown above,” Russell concludes. “If these procedures are included in the vessel’s Safety Management System then any Port State Control inspection will see a well-documented and responsible vessel. The crew will also be contributing to a very professional show, and they will also be able to sign up for the slighter shorter PST and/or AFF courses.”

To look at exactly what refresher training you need based on your existing certificates, download Viking Recruitment’s summary.

Profile links

Viking Recruitment

Maritime Skills Academy