Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW 9), 6-10 February 2023 (opening remarks)


(6 to 10 February 2023)

Good morning distinguished delegates and observers,

I am very pleased to welcome you all to the ninth session of the Sub‑Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping.

First, I would like to extend my sincere condolences to the Syrian Arab Republic and Türkiye in respect of the earthquake this morning that has caused the loss of so many lives and severe damage to infrastructure. On behalf of the IMO membership, the Secretariat and myself, I would like to convey through the delegates present here, our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims, as well as those that remain missing. I would also like to commend all those involved in the ongoing rescue operations.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This year's World Maritime theme is: "MARPOL at 50 - Our commitment goes on". This theme will provide the opportunity for the maritime community to highlight the relevance and importance of the MARPOL treaty now and into the future.

The theme reflects the Organization's long history of protecting the environment from the impact of shipping via a robust regulatory framework and emphasizes our ongoing commitment to address climate change issues.

In this regard, I would like to highlight the importance of your Sub-Committee for the concerted effort within the Organization to address the challenges emanating from the decarbonization of shipping, which of course includes re‑skilling and re‑educating seafarers and other marine personnel to ensure a smooth transition into a new era of maritime transport.

Distinguished delegates,

Let me now turn to some of the important items on the agenda for this session.

The Maritime Safety Committee, at its 105th session last year, agreed to commence work on a comprehensive review of the STCW Convention and Code.

This new output will allow us to address, among many other related matters, the needs emanating from the ongoing developments in terms of technology, digitalization and new fuels, and to develop the necessary skills for seafarers.

At this session, you will be working on a road map for the work to be conducted, for consideration and approval by the Committee before commencing the development of draft amendments.

However, the priority for this session, as part of the just mentioned review and as instructed by MSC 105, is the development and finalization of STCW training provisions to help addressing the very concerning issue of bullying and harassment on board ships, including sexual assault and sexual harassment.

With regard to the comprehensive review of the 1995 STCW-F Convention, I would urge you to meet the target for the completion of the work at this session.

During this week, you are expected to address the issues raised at your last session, such as consequential amendments emanating from the recent GMDSS modernization as well as the draft guidelines on medical examination of fishing vessel personnel, which will be finalized jointly with ILO in 2024.

Further consideration of how to enhance the communication of information scheme of the STCW Convention is another important item on your agenda for this meeting.

This includes the possible development of a dynamic list of compliant Parties, for the effective implementation of relevant STCW provisions, based on the draft non-mandatory provisions developed for this purpose.

Other relevant and important matters on the agenda for this session include the validation of 10 model courses; measures to ensure the quality of onboard training; and measures to facilitate mandatory seagoing service, as required by the STCW Convention. I am looking forward to the results of your considerations in this regard.

Distinguished delegates,

I am confident that with the usual customary IMO spirit of cooperation and under the capable leadership of your Chair, Mr. Storhaug of Norway, supported by the Vice‑Chair, Mr. Cigarruista of Panama, as well as the staff of the Maritime Safety Division, you will engage in constructive discussions and reach agreement on the matters before you at this ninth session of your Sub‑Committee.

My best wishes to you all for a productive session and I invite you all to join me and the Secretariat for a welcome reception in the Delegates' Lounge after the close of today's business.

Thank you.