UK Seafarers: Keep your Standards in Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) qualifications updated

Circular No: NP/130/16


Our ref: S11/2/16

3rd May 2016

Dear Colleagues

UK Seafarers: Keep your Standards in Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) qualifications updated

Further to Circular no. 201/14 of 8th October 2014, the union reminds all seafarers to check that their basic training certificates, if held are up to date and compliant with the STCW in the following areas:

•    Proficiency in Personal Survival Techniques (PST)
•    Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats other than Fast Rescue Boats (PSC & RB)
•    Proficiency in Fast Rescue Boats (PFRB – Not required by all Ratings)
•    Proficiency in Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting (FP & FF)
•    Proficiency in Advanced Fire Fighting (AFF - Not required by all Ratings)

If you have not undertaken any refresher or other training in the above categories since 2012, you should seek guidance from your employer on updating your qualifications.

The STCW was amended at the IMO conference in Manila in 2010, introducing new requirements for seafarer training and certification in the above areas. Your employer should not only be aware of these new requirements but should have arrangements in place to update, if required, your training qualifications. The union is advised by the MCA that refresher training in all five categories should not take longer than two and a half days. Paragraph 4.5 of Merchant Shipping Notice 1865 contains a breakdown of the duration of each refresher course for each category.

The union is clear that this refresher training should come at no cost to seafarers and should be paid for by the employer, as is the usual practice. We have written to the Department for Transport to request that the Government supports the union’s position, should any employers seek to pass the cost on to seafarers.

For unemployed seafarers, assistance is available through the Maritime Educational Foundation (MEF) in meeting to cost of STCW refresher training. A separate circular on the MEF fund will be issued shortly.

The new requirements come into force on 1st January 2017 and it remains the case that you are required to keep these qualifications updated every five years.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) regulates seafarer training and has issued Marine Information Notice 520 and Merchant Shipping Notice 1865 to summarise the new requirements for seafarers, including Ratings. Copies of MIN 520 and MSN 1865 are attached to this circular.

If you have any questions or queries about the status of your existing seafarer qualifications, please contact the National Policy Department on 0207 529 8281 or

You will be kept updated with any further developments.

Yours sincerely
Mick Cash
General Secretary