STCW10 coming to Canada

SCTW10 rising from the deep

The next Canadian Marine Advisory Committee (CMAC) meeting is a little more than a month away - to be held in Ottawa, on November 6th through the 8th. Transport Canada, which regulates pretty much everything we do in Canadian shipping, and especially us seafarers, uses this medium to discuss changes in their policies and regulations.

They have proposed a long list of amendments to the Marine Personnel Regulations, those are the regulations that oversee the Training and Certification of Canadian seafarer. The amendments are there to address the recent changes to the Standards of Training Watchkeeping and Certification (STCW) of seafarer, as adopted by the IMO convention, held in Manila, June 2010. These are major changes to the STCW convention, and they are known as the Manila Convention or STCW10.

Transport Canada is obligated to introduce these agreed international changes into its regulatory framework. Many of the changes directly impact seafarers, right now, such as hours of rest / work; and these regulations are already in force, beginning 2012. There is further regulations which will impact Marine Engineer in particular, you can read about the proposed changes to the Canadian engineering certification system here

The biggest one for currently certificated engineers is the Safety Training, previously known as Marine Emergency Duties (MED) now has a validity limit. Meaning that the training, if not up to current standards will have to taken again. Refresher courses will have to be introduced at the maritime schools, to be taken every five years, and there is also some additional training introduced.

TC is introducing new Certificates of Competency (CoC) for deck and engineers; in particular...
 ...and new Certificate of Proficiency (training)
... and new Endorsements
Got a headache yet....?

By the looks of it, Fourth Class will now require the full Part A exams, including new ones like "Industrial Chemistry" and "Electrical, electronic and control engineering". Oh that's wonderful! I wonder where TC is going to get those exam questions out of the 1960's Reed's books. Third class will be required to do Simulator level 2 as well, typically this wasn't required until Second Class.

As I see it current Cadets should be relatively ok. Senior ranks - Second or First Class CoC holder will be hit with refresher courses, and additional requirements for maintaining their Certificate. The real problem will be for the "keeners" who have experience onboard, typically older, and are trying to work their way up in the field, upgrading to a Fourth Class or Thirds. These people, I think are really screwed, as there is no practical way they can move up now.

Of course, this group of ship's engineering staff have very few people talking on their behalf. The senior ranks, well, they have adjustments to make but overall not too bad, the unions may speak on their behalf. No matter how you slice it, these are extra burdens to achieve certification in an already challenging process.

TC reached out to the CIMarE, this is where I first heard of it, yesterday, even though these changes were proposed last CMAC in April. I run probably the largest web community of those affected; TC, email is relatively free - wouldn't hurt to let us engineers know.

Canadian Institute of
Marine Engineering
Ultimately, CIMarE is a volunteer organization, so their input is great, but at the mercy of many pressing issues affecting its membership, like putting food on the table. Unions, well, if history is any indication, I think will be absent from any meaningful input on this subject. Sorry young guys and gals wanting to be ship's engineers, your on your own.

The first time STCW was introduced, back in the late 1990's, I think it safe to say it was chaotic. In the US, it was downright scary. I don't think it will be as bad now that we are use to the STCW concept, but I predict a major slowdown in the Certificate queu at your local TC Marine Safety office, already running at high output and quality assurance levels  - sorry a bit of sarcasm there.

If you are in Ottawa in November, you are invited to attend. You can see all the proposed changes here, here are the really interesting ones, the changes to the Engineering certificates. CMAC's website is here, you can visit the CIMarE's website here, and discuss this topic on The Common Rail. Deckies, don't worry, you were not forgotten, you'll definitely want to look up how these changes apply to you.

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