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A complete Guide to STCW for Seafarers, Education and Training Establishments, and Other Stake Holders

stcw imo

The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) for Seafarers was adopted in 1978 by conference at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London, and entered into force in 1984. It was amended in 1995 and again in 2010. The applies to seafarers, ship-owners, training establishments and national maritime administrations. The convention helps and enforces a series of standards for the safe keeping of shipping environment and keeping the oceans clean.

The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978 sets qualification standards for masters, officers and watch personnel on seagoing merchant ships. The STCW Convention does not apply to seafarers serving on warships, naval auxiliaries or any other government owned or operated ship engaged in non-commercial service; fishing vessels (there is a separate convention covering personnel on fishing vessels); pleasure yachts not engaged in trade and wooden ships of primitive build.

The 2010 Manila amendments was intended to include all agreed changes since 1995, address new technology, inconsistencies, interpretations and outdated provisions. There was also an overall commitment to harmonies the amended STCW Convention where practical, with the provisions of the 2006 ILO Maritime Labour Convention. The 2010 amendments continued to emphasize competence rather than sea service or period of training. The standard set by the convention applies to seafarers of all ranks serving on sea-going merchant ships registered under the flag of a country party to the convention.

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nyk line merchant ship

The STCW Convention for Seafarers was adopted in 1978 by conference at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London, and entered into force in 1984 and was amended in 1995 & 2010



The STCW Convention

The STCW Convention consists of three sections.

  • The articles: outline the legal responsibilities a party has to meet.
  • The annex: gives technical details on how the legal responsibilities referred to in the articles should be met.
  • The STCW Code: specifies in more depth the technical details contained in the annex. It contains part A (mandatory standards of training, certification and watch-keeping) and part B (recommended guidelines - not mandatory - on training, certification and watch-keeping)

A copy of the STCW Convention is normally kept on board all sea-going merchant ships.

STCW 2010 Deadlines

  • January 1, 2012: The STCW 2010 Manila amendments enter into force;  Training and certification may continue in accordance with STCW 95; New training standards optional; Some administrations may begin to introduce new standards; and New minimum rest hours enforced.
  • July 1, 2013: New seafarers training and competence should comply with the 2010-amended STCW Convention
  • January 1, 2014: Mandatory security training in accordance with the new provisions
  • January 1, 2017: STCW 2010 certification for all seafarers

Important STCW Certification Changes and Requirements

stcw certification requirements from 2017

STCW Certification Requirements from January 1, 2017: Credits: ITF