Maritime Labor Convention... Any one hearing anything about this

[QUOTE=Kickasssailor;83501]Apparently in 2006 the ILO created the MLC. One of the key parts is a restriction on working hours. 72 hours in a seven day period. No more than 14 in a day. It also says that you should receive no less than 77 hours of rest in a week. … [/QUOTE]

The United States is not a signatory to the MLC.

However, there are work/rest rules in STCW 2010. Although the U. S. has yet to publish regulations implementing STCW 2010, it went into effect on January 1, 2012 and other countries may be enforcing it. The STCW rest provisions include:
• establishes a minimum of 10 hours of rest in any 24-hour period for an officer in charge of a navigational or engineering watch, or a rating forming part of a navigational or engineering watch;
• allowed the hours of rest to be divided into no more than two periods, of which one must be at least 6 hours in length;
• allowed exceptions to the minimum hours of rest in the case of an emergency or drill, or in other overriding operational conditions;
• allowed the reduction to the minimum period of ten hours to not less than 6 consecutive hours as long as, no reduction extends beyond 2 days, and not less than 70 hours of rest are provided each 7-day period; and
• required the master to post watch schedules where they are easily accessible.

The Coast Guard published guidance and recommendations on this part of the 2010 STCW in January, 2012:

[QUOTE=jdcavo;83663]The United States is not a signatory to the MLC.[/QUOTE]

It figures…

Check out this article from the September 2012 Seaways (International Journal of the Nautical Institute) dealing with the STCW rest hours issue:

[B]"Mandated Rest Hours: The Compliance Conundrum[/B]

Samuel R. Clawson, Jr. BA, MS, JD, MNI

[I]The demands of port calls mean that it is almost impossible for Masters and chief officers to comply with STCW legislation on rest hours. Finding a solution could mean a radical rethink of operations and manning.[/I]

An old nautical idiom talks of being ‘caught between the devil and the deep blue sea’ – that is, being forced to make a difficult decision between two harmful options. The new rest period requirements implemented by the Manila Amendments to STCW present just such a difficult decision to ship’s Masters every day, forcing them to choose between accomplishing the business of the ship and complying with rest period requirements.

[B]The Manila Amendments to STCW[/B]
The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) first established uniform minimum international standards for seafarers in 1978. Since that time, STCW has undergone several revisions intended to maintain precise and current standards. The Manila Amendments to STCW, which were adopted on June 25, 2010 and entered into force on January 1, 2012, included important changes relating to required rest periods. These were were intended to alleviate the danger posed by fatigue of seafarers involved in the safe and secure operation of a ship.

The revised rest period requirements apply to all persons who are assigned duty as an officer in charge of a navigational watch or as a rating forming part of a navigational watch and to those whose duties involve designated safety, prevention of pollution and security duties. This is a significant expansion in scope, as they formerly applied only to watchstanders. The revised requirements now include all persons with safety, security, and pollution prevention duties. One would be hard pressed to identify crew members who do not have such duties and are, therefore, not subject to the revised rest period requirements. Most notably, this now includes the Master and Chief Engineer, who were not previously subject to the rest period requirements.

The revised rest period requirements state that such persons shall be provided with a rest period of not less than ten hours of rest in any twenty-four hour period and seventy-seven hours of rest in any seven day period. The hours of rest may be divided into no more than two periods, one of which shall be at least six hours in length. The intervals between consecutive periods of rest shall not exceed fourteen hours. Records of daily hours of rest must be maintained in a standardised format to allow for monitoring and verification of compliance with rest period requirements.

It should be noted that the rest period requirements need not be adhered to in the case of an emergency. The Master may require a seafarer to perform any hours of work necessary for the immediate safety of the ship, persons or cargo on board, or for the purpose of giving assistance to other ships or persons in distress at sea, provided that the seafarer is allowed an adequate period of rest as soon as practicable after the normal situation has been restored.

There are limited exceptions from the required daily and weekly rest periods for occasions when rest periods are interrupted due to an unplanned call-out. However, it is inappropriate to apply these exceptions to routine tasks or regularly scheduled port evolutions, which can be planned for in advance. Mariners should consult STCW Chapter VII, Section A-VIII/1, Paragraph 9 for more detail on these limited exceptions.

[B]Chronic Non-Compliance[/B]
The ever-expanding duties of today’s officers, particularly the in-port duties of management level officers, have made it extremely difficult to meet the minimum rest period requirements set forth in the Manila Amendments. Take, for example, the role of the Master on a modern container vessel, whose typical port evolution begins with their presence on the bridge prior to the boarding of the pilot. The Master will usually remain on the bridge throughout the pilotage transit and docking of the vessel at the terminal. This period necessarily varies according to the length of the pilotage transit, but can easily last several hours and often occurs outside of normal working hours. Once the vessel has been safely moored at the terminal, the Master’s focus shifts from operational to administrative concerns, including meeting with the ship’s agent, terminal security, customs, immigration, and company officials. The Master must meet with the ship’s agent once again prior to sailing, at which point their presence on the bridge will be required for the undocking from the terminal and the outbound pilotage transit.

Similarly, the in port duties of the Chief Officer, in addition to the eight hours of watch stood on any given day, begin with assisting the Master on the bridge during the final portion of the pilotage transit and docking of the vessel at the terminal. Following the docking, the Chief Officer must turn to various operational and managerial concerns. The Chief Officer must oversee cargo operations, dealing with issues including ship stability, cargo stowage, dangerous goods, reefer containers, lashing, and stevedore damage. Additionally, they must often sign on new crew members and interface with third party contractors assisting with other operations that occur in port, such as vessel repairs or landing stores. The Chief Officer returns to the bridge at sailing to assist the Master during undocking and the initial portion of the outbound pilotage transit.

The various operational, managerial and administrative duties required of Masters and Chief Officers have made it difficult, if not impossible, to comply with the minimum rest period requirements set forth in the Manila Amendments. The need to attend to business which cannot be delegated and the need to comply with STCW regulations is mutually exclusive. In my own experience, and based upon anecdotal evidence from other vessels throughout the US fleet, it appears that accomplishing the business of the ship has taken precedence over compliance with the rest period requirements. This raises the question: what can be done to allow Masters and Chief Officers to fully perform their duties while also obtaining the required rest?

[B]Potential Solutions[/B]
It is clear that officers should not be forced to make the difficult decision between performing their duties and complying with the required rest periods. Some ships have sought to counter this problem by altering the watchstanding schedule, but such bottom-up approaches fail to fully address the problem.

The traditional four and four watch schedule requires each watchstanding officer to stand two four hour watches separated by eight hours of rest. Some vessels have resorted to alternative watch schedules, known generally as Swedish Watches, wherein the officers stand one six hour watch and one two hour watch separated by varying rest periods depending on the specific iteration of scheduling employed. Unfortunately, this approach has proven to be of limited value in solving the rest period problem because of the fluid nature of vessel scheduling, which can change for any number of reasons beyond the ship’s control, e.g. inclement weather, delays in cargo operations, and availability of pilots, tugs, or terminal berths.

Similarly, some vessels have resorted to having the Second and Third Officers cover portions of the Chief Officer’s watch, either in anticipation of regular port calls or in reaction to situations when the Chief Officer is unexpectedly in non-compliance with the required rest periods. Unfortunately, this approach merely provides temporary relief for the Chief Officer and is not sustainable, simply delaying the inevitable and potentially putting the Second and Third Officers in non-compliance as well. Furthermore, neither approach to watch scheduling solves the issue of the Master’s non-compliance with STCW rest periods.

Such bottom-up approaches to watch scheduling have proven to be ineffective solutions to the problem. Instead, it appears that a top-down approach is required. One alternative is to alter crewing levels in order to increase available man hours. For example, vessels could take on an additional Third Officer or employ the use of a Deep Sea Pilot during coastwise portions of the voyage. However, this does not solve the problem of Masters and Chief Officers being out of compliance while in port prior to sailing and merely allows them to obtain additional rest following the port evolution. Furthermore, such arrangements may not be available on all vessels due to constraints imposed by existing agreements.

Perhaps the best approach would be for vessel owner/operators to consider altering ship’s schedules to allow for more time at the terminal following completion of cargo operations. This additional down time prior to sailing would ensure that all persons covered by the Manila Amendments, in particular, the Master and Chief Officer, are in compliance with the rest period requirements before sailing. This appears to be the only solution which will ensure STCW compliance in every instance.

[B]Impact on Vessel Owner/Operators[/B]
There are significant financial considerations that will undoubtedly enter into vessel owner/operators’ risk analysis when considering the impact of longer port stays versus non-compliance with STCW. Remaining at the berth following completion of cargo operations would result in increased costs including wharfage, fuel consumption while at the berth, and increased fuel consumption while underway to account for the decreased transit time between ports. This latter cost could be significant where the distance between successive ports is relatively short because fuel consumption rates increase exponentially at higher speeds.

A voyage from Bremerhaven to New York may only need a modest increase in speed to make up for several hours spent at the dock following completion of cargo operations. However, a voyage from Rotterdam to Felixstowe would need a significant increase in speed to make up the time and, therefore, a disproportionately larger increase in fuel consumption. Given the current state of the energy economy and the increased mandatory use of relatively costly low sulphur fuel, increased fuel consumption is certainly a powerful financial consideration in vessel owner/operators risk analysis.

The alternative is not attractive either. Vessel owner/operators face the possibility of fines and vessel detentions should port state or flag state control determine that a ship is in breach of rest period requirements. STCW enforcement is dependent upon signatory countries and it remains to be seen to what extent the various signatories will enforce the rest period requirements.

In the United States, the Coast Guard has issued interim guidance in the form of a Notice of Policy acknowledging the changes to STCW and advising that implementation of these changes in the U.S. will require regulatory changes, which have yet to be accomplished. Accordingly, the Coast Guard stated that it will not be enforcing the new rest period requirements until the revised regulations are published in the Code of Federal Regulations. In the interim, the Coast Guard is encouraging all US vessels operating in foreign ports to fully comply with the rest period requirements to avoid potential port state control detentions.

In the prevailing economic environment, with decreasing cargo, oversupply of vessels, stagnant freight rates and increasing fuel costs, vessel owner/operators are seeking to reduce costs at every opportunity. It is hard to imagine anyone at company headquarters supporting the idea of altering vessel schedules to allow for compliance with rest period requirements given the resulting costs associated with this solution.

Indeed, it appears that Masters’ pleas for guidance or solutions regarding the new rest period requirements have thus far gone unanswered. This is troubling because it is the Master who will likely bear ultimate responsibility in the event of a marine incident that is traceable to fatigue and a violation of STCW rest period requirements."