As if the STCW 95 weren’t burdensome enough, now some want to tinker with it and not for the better. Read This:
[<span style=“font-weight: bold]<font color=”#666666]Anger at EU call for crewing shake-up</font></span>](http://www.lloydslist.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=LloydsList/Home&element=LloydsList/content/dynamic/generic/viewArticle&areaTitle=Front+Page+News&articleId=1166693532151)<span style="font-weight: bold] </span><span style="font-style: italic]- Britain shares doubts with maritime unions over European proposal for an ‘alternative certification’ - By David Osler</span>
</div> <div> <span style="color: #990000]THE European Union is pushing for rule changes that would allow ratings to undertake many tasks traditionally reserved for officers.</span> </div> <div> The plan, which has been strongly condemned by shipping unions, seemingly opens the door for <span style="color: #990000; font-style: italic]“alternative certification”</span>. Ratings would then be able to take on such functions as operational navigation and cargo handling and stowage. </div> <div> Some 27 countries — the existing 25 members together with Romania and Bulgaria, who join on January 1 — have tabled the proposal at the International Maritime Organization. The document is also signed by the European Commission, which has observer status. <span style="color: #666666][Note: Since when do Observers sign anything? Sounds like they are taking a position. They better be careful or US States will want to play the same game!]</span> </div> <div> It forms part of the review the working of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping convention. </div> <div> However, Lloyd’s List has learnt that, despite having signed the document, Britain openly shares some reservations with the maritime unions. The crux of the issue is item “5.9” of the document, headed “alternative certification”. </div> <div> It states: “At present the existence of dual purpose officers <span style="color: #666666][Note: an officer with both deck and engine licenses]</span> and general purpose ratings allows for horizontal flexibility in the manning of ships and the way the work is organised on board. </div> <div> “However, there is also a need to consider the possibility of vertical flexibility, where specialist and other functions can be more evenly distributed among the crew. </div> <div> “Therefore the relevant provisions of the STCW convention and code should be examined in order to asses the need for adapting the pertinent provisions.” </div> <div> The proposals have been considered by the maritime skills task force of the International Transport Workers’ Federation. </div> <div> A strong majority of both officer and rating unions are said to have taken a political position against the move. Officers’ union Nautilus UK, formerly Numast, has claimed that STCW could be “hijacked” by shipowners seeking to reduce crewing levels. </div> <div> <span style="color: #990000]It fears that the rules will be diluted in response to the shortage of skilled seafarers.</span> </div> <div> Nautilus UK general secretary Brian Orrell said: “The proposals clearly present the potential for a diminution of the officer profession by enabling ratings to function as watchkeepers without the full certification of officers.” </div> <div> <span style="color: #990000]Other effects could include a reduction in opportunities for junior officers, and less investment in cadet training.</span> </div> <div> In a surprise development last week, a spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency told Lloyd’s List: “The United Kingdom does not agree with this particular phraseology and has sympathy with the union’s position. “This particular paragraph is being read by the union as meaning that a partly trained rating could keep a navigational watch of some description. </div> <div> “Although the UK and Nautilus would not take this position, this is indeed the position of some of our European colleagues, including the Netherlands.” </div> <div> The spokesman argued that Britain had signed up primarily to facilitate discussion. </div> <div> The IMO review of STCW starts next month and is due for completion by 2008, and the EU paper is just one of many that will be considered as part of the review process. </div> <div> Other issues that may be considered, according to Nautilus UK, are working time rules, certificate fraud, medical fitness standards, mandatory alcohol limits, electrical engineering and electronics training requirements and the qualifications of yacht crews. - [<font color="#666666]Lloydslist</font>](http://www.lloydslist.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=LloydsList/Home&element=LloydsList/content/dynamic/generic/viewArticle&areaTitle=Front+Page+News&articleId=1166693532151) </div>
There is a global shortage of trained seafarers, especially officers. Europe, especially the UK and Germany were trying to figure how to encourage more people to become trained as Merchant Marine / Merchant Navy Officers. Thanks to STCW 95, officer positions have been divided between Operational <span style="color: #666666](Third and Second Mate Deck, Third and Second Assistant Engineers </span><span style="font-size: 85%; color: #666666]<font size="1](or fourth and Third Engineers)</font></span><span style="color: #666666] )</span> and Management Level <span style="color: #666666](Chief Mate and Captain. First Assistant/Second Engineer and Chief Engineer)</span> positions. This proposal would blur the distinction between the Operational / Officer Level and the Ratings / Support Level.
Maybe someone should tell the EU that support-level Ratings are not required to learn navigation and they can earn their rating with only one year of sea service, of which only two months of which needs to include watchkeeping / standing watch on the bridge. (Per [<font color="#334477]TESDA</font>](http://www.tesda.gov.ph/services1/primer_coc.asp) in Philippines.)
This proposal is just crazy. One group that will appreciate this is the now-unlicensed Indian Officers who were sailing with licenses issued by Panama who lost their jobs because Panama refused to issue STCW 95 Licenses to those who had Panama Licenses issued by passing a Panama exam and no national license that they could endorse. (Makes you wonder what kind of test they had to pass)
One open issue that still has to be addressed is the simple fact that STCW does not recognize or even have a rating for Able Body Seamen which was somehow vertically integrated into the Ordinary Seaman Rating. There is also no such thing as a Bosun in STCW 95.