The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) at its 74th session in June 2001 received the results of an IMO research study to establish the nature and extent of unlawful practices associated with certificates of competency.
The study was carried out by the Seafarers International Research Centre (SIRC), Cardiff, United Kingdom and was funded by a number of Member Governments and the EU.
A total of 97 maritime administrations were contacted for information on various aspects of the issue of unlawful practices associated with certificates of competency and equivalent endorsements, of which 54 had responded to questionnaires giving a response rate of 56%. Of those, 39% had reported a total of 12,635 detected cases of forgery in certificates of competency and equivalent endorsements. The Committee noted, however, that, of the total number of reported cases, 12,000 had been reported by one single administration in South East Asia, and that all these cases were currently being analysed to assess the level and nature of forgery involved. A total of 1,384 seafarers and 22 employers had participated in the survey. 50% of respondents were manning agents, 32% shipowners and 18% ship managers employing an average of 615 ratings and 1091 officers in their companies. In all, 82% percent of the respondents had detected forged certificates of competency in thelast five years. Of these, 41% reported having detected forged basic safety training certificates, 27% had reported forged sea service record books and 18% had detected forged OOW (deck) certificates. 14% had also reported false GMDSS (GOC) certificates.
In expressing its deep concern about the unlawful practices associated with certificates of competency, the Committee considered it highly desirable that the matter be considered in detail by the STW Sub-Committee with a view to identifying preventative and enforcement measures to address the issue.
The STW Sub-Committee at its 38th session in January 2007 approved the revised format relating to reporting of fraudulent certificates detected and urged Member Governments and international organizations to use the revised format when reporting the detection of fraudulent certificates to the Secretariat (STW 38/17 annex 1).