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Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW), 1st session (opening address)

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February 17, 2014

ADDRESS OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL AT THE OPENING OF THE FIRST SESSION OF  THE SUB-COMMITTEE ON HUMAN ELEMENT, TRAINING AND WATCHKEEPING 
(17 to 21 February 2014)
 
Good morning ladies and gentlemen,
 
Welcome to the first session of the Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW). This is the third sub-committee meeting this year and this is my third opening and welcoming address. The last two sub-committee meetings were handled very well and meetings have been successful. Naturally, I have my expectation for another successful meeting this week to keep the momentum towards the smooth introduction of the revised sub-committees structure. I am sure that we can ensure that.
 
The human element is a subject which has a long history of discussion at IMO. STCW is the basic framework of our work, dealing with the human element. We have dealt with the role of management and established the ISM Code. A safety culture has been what we have been working for, and the Joint MSC/MEPC Working Group on the Human Element has made its contribution over the years.
 
The responsibilities of the HTW Sub-Committee is set out clearly in its Terms of Reference, which cover: minimum international standards for training and certification of seafarers, the principles of safe watchkeeping, the minimum international standards for training and certification of fishing vessel personnel, the safety, security and environmental protection culture, the safe manning of ships and training issues related to the human element, promotion of awareness of lessons learnt from casualty investigation, the review, updating and revision of IMO model courses and, finally, the promotion of IMO's human element strategy.
 
Those are clearly provided in our Terms of Reference of this newly established Sub-Committee. These are the major responsibilities and our way forward is provided very clearly in the Terms of Reference. They are all important issues of this Organization and all important issues for shipping today and in the future.
 
We are now, today opening a new chapter for the work of the Organization in the field of the human element and I would like to express all my best wishes to the work of this Sub Committee in coming years.
 
Now, to the subjects of the first session of the Sub-Committee:
 
I would like to stress the importance of effective and uniform implementation of the STCW Convention by Parties globally, to enhance seafarers' training standards, competency and quality to meet the expectations of the industry.
 
I would also like to highlight the importance of ensuring that guidance in IMO model courses properly reflects the competencies required to be demonstrated by seafarers to meet the standards of the STCW Convention and Code.
 
As a third point, I would like to encourage the Sub-Committee to validate the six updated model courses submitted to this session so that training providers are provided with necessary guidance at the earliest opportunity to develop training programmes meeting the standards in the STCW Convention and Code and, in this context, I would like to express my appreciation to the coordinators, for their contribution to the Organization's efforts to update the model courses.
 
I encourage the Sub-Committee to undertake a holistic review of the out-dated current guidance and develop practical and functional guidelines for future development and updating of model courses to facilitate effective implementation of the STCW Convention and Code and other related IMO instruments in the years to come.
 
I would like to encourage the finalization of the certification and training requirements for officers and crew serving on board ships operating in polar waters for inclusion in chapter V of the STCW Convention and Code; and facilitate the finalization of chapter 13 of the mandatory code for ships operating in polar waters.
 
I urge the Sub-Committee to finalize training requirements related to personnel serving on ships using gases or other low flashpoint fuels. I am referring to the IGF Code for inclusion in chapter V of the STCW Convention and Code to enhance the competency and quality of seafarers on modern types of ships using gas or other low flashpoint fuels.
 
As a seventh point, I urge the Sub-Committee to take note of the lessons learnt from the Costa Concordia accident and their impact on the current international regulations for the safety of passenger ships; and to address the challenges posed by the increased size of modern cruise ships and the large number of passengers on board.
 
As my last point, I would like to urge the Sub-Committee to take account of the practical difficulties highlighted by Parties and develop relevant guidance on practical measures for the effective implementation of security-related training and certificates required under regulation VI/6 of the STCW Convention, in a timely manner.
 
Those are my expectations for this week. No doubt, under the new leadership of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, who will be elected soon, the Sub-Committee will respond and deliver its function.
 
Thank you.
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