The International Maritime Organization's (IMO’s) International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978 was the first internationally-agreed Convention to address the issue of minimum standards of competence for seafarers. In 1995 the STCW Convention was completely revised and updated to clarify the standards of competence required and provide effective mechanisms for enforcement of its provisions.
A comprehensive review of the STCW Convention and the STCW Code commenced in January 2006, and culminated in a Conference of Parties to the STCW Convention which was held in Manila, Philippines from 21 to 25 June 2010, that adopted a significant number of amendments to the STCW Convention and STCW Code. These amendments, now referred to as the Manila amendments, which provide enhanced standards of training for seafarers, entered into force on 1 January 2012. As a result, all competent authorities must issue new certificates of competency and proficiency to conform to these Manila amendments by 31st December 2016.
To this end the Ghana Maritime Authority which is mandated to oversee the training, engagement and welfare of Ghanaian Seafarers has taken the following steps;
The first requirement of implementing a convention is to establish a legal framework by incorporating the provisions of the convention into domestic legislation.
- GMA through Parliament has reviewed the existing L.I. 1790 Merchant Shipping (Training, Certification, Manning and Watchkeeping) Regulations, 2004 and replaced with Merchant Shipping (Training, Certification, Manning and Watchkeeping) Regulations, 2016.
The Manila Amendment introduces new training requirements for seafarers. As an Administration and the body entrusted with the responsibility for training seafarers, the GMA has to develop and approve training programmes for use by Regional Maritime University in training seafarers. That has been achieved as follows:
- The training requirements for Existing and New Short courses introduced by the Manila Amendments has been developed and approved by the GMA. The RMU beginning from the 2nd Semester of 2015/2016 has been running the short courses (i.e. Human Element, High Voltage Management, Engine Room Resource Management etc.). The GMA recently issued a Guidance Notice which was published in the National Dailies for the seafaring community to be aware that approval has been given for the RMU to run the courses. It is re-iterated that Seafarers must meet all ancillary requirements before issuance of their certificates of competency
- Manila Amendments also introduced new training and certification requirements for Electro-Technical Officers (ETO's). To this effect GMA has developed and approved the New Certificate of Competency Programme for the ETO'S.
Seafarers who are trained in accordance with the requirements of the Manila Amendments must also be certified in accordance with the certification requirements of the Manila Amendments. GMA has taken a number of steps to ensure the availability of Manila based Certificates for issuance to seafarers.
- New Certificates required under the Manila Amendments has been designed by the GMA and is ready for printing. After successfully fulfilling all national procurement requirements, a contract for the printing of Manila based certificates has been awarded.
Considering the terms of contract, we wish to inform the seafaring community, that the GMA shall commence capturing of biometric data and subsequent issuance of Manila based certificates by November, 2016.
The Ghana Maritime Authority wishes to assure Ghanaians of the Authority’s commitment to ensuring the welfare of Seafarers.
REV. DR. P. I. AZUMA