Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW 10), 5-9 February 2024

Groundwork laid for the comprehensive review of the STCW Convention and Code 

The Sub-Committee agreed on a roadmap, methodology and a list of specific areas for the comprehensive review of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) and the accompanying STCW Code.  

The STCW Convention establishes basic requirements on training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers on an international level. In 2022, the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 105) instructed the HTW Sub-Committee to conduct a comprehensive review of the STCW Convention and Code to adapt the existing global standards for seafarer training to reflect new trends, developments and challenges in the maritime sector.  

In progressing the work, the Sub-Committee agreed: 

  • 22 specific areas of the Convention and Code to be reviewed, including addressing training requirements for emerging technologies on ships, e-certification, mental health and gender sensitization, among others; 
  • a two-step methodology, consisting of a review of the Convention and Code to identify gaps (Phase 1) and then a revision stage to develop amendments to address those gaps (Phase 2); 
  • establishment of an Inter-sessional Working Group before the next session of the Sub-Committee (HTW 11) to advance the work, subject to decision by the MSC and the IMO Council;
  • a roadmap outlining a timeline for action, including finalizing the list of gaps identified by Spring 2025 (HTW11); finalizing draft text of amendments and resolutions by Spring 2027 (HTW13). 

All the above will be submitted to the upcoming 108th meeting of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 108) for approval. 

Enhanced efforts on prevention and addressing bullying and harassment 

As part of the comprehensive review of the STCW Convention and Code, the Sub-Committee finalized the draft terms of reference for the revision of Model Course 1.21 on Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities, with a view to validation at HTW 12 (2026). The aim is to incorporate new competencies to help prevent and respond to all sorts of bullying and harassment in the maritime sector. 

MSC 108 is expected to adopt draft amendments to STCW Code, to prevent and respond to bullying and harassment in the maritime sector, including sexual assault and sexual harassment (SASH), following review of the approved draft amendments by the next meeting of the joint ILO/IMO Tripartite Working Group to Identify and Address Seafarers' Issues and the Human Element (JTWG), which meets from 27 to 29 February 2024, at IMO headquarters in London.   

The new provisions will apply to all seafarers by means of amendments to the STCW Code, table A-VI/1-4 (Specification of minimum standard of competence in personal safety and social responsibilities).   

Training for seafarers on ships using alternative fuels 

The Sub-Committee discussed the development of training provisions for seafarers on ships using alternative fuels. It agreed that the work related to this issue should be separate from the work on the comprehensive review of the STCW Convention and Code. 

The Sub-Committee agreed that the existing output of MSC on "Development of a safety regulatory framework to support the reduction of GHG emissions from ships using new technologies and alternative fuels" could be utilized to develop relevant training provisions for seafarers, and invited MSC to include this output in the agenda of the Sub-Committee for discussion at HTW 11.  

Recommendations to enhance Polar Code training 

The Sub-Committee considered a set of recommendations put forward by several Member States, including revisions to the STCW Convention and Code, aimed at enhancing training for seafarers who operate in polar waters

The recommendations are based on the findings and experiences gleaned from five regional capacity-building workshops delivered between 2019 and 2022, and a workshop in December 2023 to review lessons learned over the course of this training programme. 

The Sub-Committee agreed to include some recommendations as part of the comprehensive review of the STCW Convention and Code and invited MSC to consider some other recommendations for further action as appropriate. 

New GISIS module on STCW 

The Sub-Committee agreed to launch a new module on the Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS) to support Parties in carrying out their obligations under the STCW Convention. The module will enhance communication and information sharing, while also helping to address fraudulent practices and alleviate the administrative burden. 

The new GISIS module will have a trial period of two years and the experience gained during this trial period is expected to be reported to a future session of the Sub-Committee, with a view to providing relevant input to the comprehensive review of the STCW Convention and Code, in particular with regard to the enhancement of the communication of information provisions.  

The Sub-Committee encouraged STCW Parties to use the new module and to provide the necessary information for its correct and reliable operation. 

Fraudulent Certificates 

The Sub-Committee noted information received by the Secretariat on reports concerning fraudulent certificates of competency and endorsements detected in 2022 and 2023. The Sub-Committee noted that the issue of fraudulent endorsements amongst shipping personnel was a serious problem that affected the safety of seafarers and ships.  

The Sub-Committee underscored the importance of having appropriate Certificate of Competency (CoC) endorsements in accordance with regulation I/10 of the STCW Convention and encouraged STCW Parties to take a broader range of actions to tackle the problem, noting that the new STCW GISIS module would consolidate the information on Parties the certificates of which were recognized in compliance with regulation I/10 and the "Certificate Verification facility", with a view to allowing Parties to manage and update relevant information. 

Validation of Model Courses 

The Sub-Committee validated the following Model Courses: 

  • Model Course 1.32 on Operational Use of Integrated Bridge Systems Including Integrated Navigational Systems 
  • Model Course 1.35 on Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Tanker Cargo and Ballast Handling Simulator 

The Sub-Committee approved the draft terms of reference for the revision of the following model courses:  

  • Model Course 1.37 on Chemical tanker cargo and ballast handling simulator  
  • Model Course 2.06 on Oil tanker cargo and ballast handling simulator