Advocating For Seafarer Training Needs

Center for Mariner Advocacy Director Phil Schifflin reports from the Recent IMO Sub-Committee Meeting.

Center for Mariner Advocacy Director, Phil Schifflin.

The tenth session of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW) Sub-Committee met in a hybrid format in London from Feb 5-9, 2024. This meeting was most heavily focused on training-related issues, with the goal of ensuring that training continues to meet mariners’ needs as they face digitalization, remote/autonomous vessels, alternative fuel sources, etc. It will take the form of a comprehensive review of the Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW), which will be a multi-year effort. This meeting was primarily focused on setting forth the ground rules for future meetings.

An issue of particular interest to the ICMA delegation was that, as part of the comprehensive review of the STCW, there are proposed new training requirements related to prevention and better response to SASH (Sexual Assault/Sexual Harassment), bullying, and hazing, as well as a new training requirement focused on improving awareness of mental health issues. Of concern to the ICMA delegation was a proposal by some in attendance to eliminate or “water down” these proposals. The ICMA delegation was able to add its voice to others in opposition to these proposed changes and was successful in this opposition. This will be an issue worth monitoring at future meetings.

Another point of interest to the ICMA delegation was a decision to update IMO Model Course 1.21 on “Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities” to better address SASH, hazing, and bullying. This is in addition to the STCW training requirements on these same issues discussed above. SCI’s Phil Schifflin of the ICMA delegation has volunteered to participate in the group that will be working on this update to IMO Model Course 1.21.

An issue that has been raised to the IMO by some ICMA members is mariner work hours and fatigue. It will be of interest to those members that the HTW Sub-Committee confirmed that it intends to address this issue at future meetings of the sub-committee. A firm timeline for when this work will begin has not been established. It might take some time before the sub-committee can meaningfully engage on this issue since it still faces a great amount of work related to the comprehensive review of the STCW. In any event, this will be a work item that the ICMA delegation to IMO will track through future meetings of the HTW Sub-Committee.