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Is the STCW adequate for superyacht safety?

With the implementation date of the Manila Amendments behind us, we ask whether the STCW is adequate for the superyacht industry.…

The STCW, or the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping, has been the safety standard of the maritime industry, superyachts included. The 1978 convention saw revisions in 1995 and, most recently, 2010, also known as the Manila Amendments. With 1 January, 2017, the last deadline for the deliberately drawn-out dates of enforcement for the respective amendments, the industry is now faced with a safety standard to which no future changes are on the calendar. So now would seem a fair time to ask the question, is today’s STCW is a safety standard fit for our industry.

Perhaps one of the best images, as seen above, associated with the STCW, is students in their fire-fighting gear, and this is one area that, according to some, could see improvements. “Depending on what school you go to, most provide adequate fire training, which is fantastic, but they are not so good at educating people on what can cause a fire,” explains Nick Street, captain on motoryacht Ace. Street points towards LED lighting as one of the most frequent culprits for fires on board. “We need to make the youngsters aware of how fires start, not just now to deal with them,” he says. “Prevention should be top of the agenda.”

“We need to make the youngsters aware of how fires start, not just now to deal with them."

However, the proof, as they say, is in the pudding, and the effectiveness of the safety standard comes down to those on the front line, so to speak. “While the STCW strives to provide an international standard of minimum training levels, and the ISM goes a long way to establish safe working practices, risk is an ever-present reality that can never be totally eliminated. Our job as captains and crew is to recognise, evaluate and manage it as best we can,” explains Captain Dale Smith.

The topic of whether the STCW is an adequate safety standard for the superyacht industry is looked at in detail in the Captains’ Debate in Issue 179 of The Superyacht Report.  Subscribe and receive your copy here. (Those in our VIP category are eligible for a complimentary 12-month VIP Subscription to the magazine – click here to apply.)

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