IMO's Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW) considered a plethora of topics connected to work practices at sea, with the common aim of improving safety standards, when it convened in February for its second session.
Requirements for the training and certification of personnel serving onboard ships operating in polar waters were agreed. Chapter V of the STCW Convention saw changed to reflect the training needs set out in the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters, aka Polar Code, which was rubber-stamped last November and is expected to enter into force in January 2017. The amendments will be forwarded to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) for approval and subsequent adoption.
The sub-committee validated three updated and revised model courses on: Advanced Training for Oil Tanker Cargo Operations; Advanced Training for Liquefied Gas Tanker Cargo Operations and Maritime English. The group also endorsed guidelines (circulated by MSC and Marine Environment Protection Committee, MEPC) aimed at standardising the process by which model courses are developed, reviewed and validated.
Members rubber-stamped items related to the use of simulators in ECDIS training and guidance on best practice for those systems. Compiled by the Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR), the guidance covers operating anomalies, maintenance and training among other subjects.
Mandatory minimum requirements for the training and qualifications of masters, officers, ratings and other personnel on passenger ships also came under the spotlight. In this regard, amendments were proposed to STCW Regulation V/2 and Section A-V/2. In short, these will require crew on passenger ships to have completed emergency familiarisation appropriate to their capacity, duties and responsibilities. They would also require masters, officers, ratings and other personnel charged with assisting passengers in emergencies to undergo crowd management training. The review of passenger ship training requirements forms part of a long-term action plan on passenger ship safety that was precipitated by the Costa Concordia incident in January 2012. The draft amendments are expected to be finalised at the next session.
A review on guidelines concerning crew fatigue got underway and will continue over the sub-committee's next two sessions. The results of this work, it was decided, should provide practical tools for fatigue management. IMO first explicitly dealt with fatigue in 1993, with the adoption of resolution A.772(18). Later on, in 2001, it issued guidance on fatigue mitigation and management. The MSC decided these were due a dusting off and update in 2014.