With some changes instigated by the Manila Amendments coming into effect on 1 January 2017, there is concern among some quarters that the superyacht industry is resting on its laurels, with possible ramifications for crewing when the changes come into being.

Here, Edge Yachts' Mikaela Favill evaluates the problem of one such amendment, the STCW refresher courses (MSN 1865 (M) on the MCA website).

Back in 2010, the IMO had a significant revision of the STCW – or Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping – known as the Manila Amendments. There were a large number of changes put into place, to be rolled out over the coming years, with the final deadlines for compliance falling on 1 January 2017.

Time marches on and suddenly we find ourselves just a year away from this point, with a rather enormous elephant in the room called the STCW refresher courses (MSN 1865 (M) on the MCA website).

Globally, there are 1.4 million seafarers affected by the STCW refresher course introduction, and they are all vying for the same spots on the same courses. To make the situation even more challenging, there are relatively few training schools that have been approved by the MCA to teach the courses. Cruise ships and other commercial fleets have been block-booking classes for their crew at some training facilities, so it is becoming very difficult to get a spot.

It’s best not to panic about the situation, but it’s important to make sure that your yacht is going to be prepared. The rules apply to both private and commercially operating superyachts, above 24m load line length.

·      Come 1 January 2017, anyone who works at sea, is mentioned on the crew list, and has safety related duties will need to have either completed their Basic STCW training after 1 January 2012 or will need to have completed the newly created refresher courses before the start of 2017.

·      If your yacht is inspected by Port State Control (PSC) after 1 Jan 2017 - for all those named on the crew list you do not have on board original copies of their Basic STCW courses and the refresher courses, then the yacht could be prevented from operating.

·      Technically, if your yacht is out of the water at a refit yard come Jan 2017, you may buy yourself a couple of months on the certification front, as long as it is high and dry. But if you are still in the water and rules of safe manning apply (crew on watch, etc), then the new rules most certainly will apply.

·      Most of the refresher courses cannot be taken remotely or on your yacht, with the exception of the Advanced Fire Fighting, which some schools are permitted to teach on board.

There is only a handful of training schools that are able to offer the courses and the number of places available is becoming increasingly limited. Many of the courses for the end of 2016 have already been booked up.

·      Those who do not have the relevant courses completed after 1 Jan 2017, will not be able to work on a yacht or re-validate their certificates of compliance.

·      The likelihood of postponement of implementation of the rules is very slim. It will not pay to delay action and hope the deadlines will be pushed back in the next 12 months.

The STCW refresher courses are an unavoidable inevitability, and it’s important that every captain and first officer knows where their vessel is going to stand come January 2017. It looks as though PSC is going to be increasing its depth of inspections on certification as a result of these new regulations too, so be sure that all your underlying certification is up to date and originals are kept on board to prevent any nasty surprises.

“We feel it’s important to forewarn the yachting community as a whole,” says Anthony Sands, Founder and CEO of Edge Yachts. “This situation is not going to go away so it will not help to bury your head in the sand. All yachts should make sure they are prepared for this upcoming deadline.”

To download a PDF version of the table above, click here.


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