Crew must now have at least 10 hours’ rest per day

SHIPOWNERS have been reminded that major revisions to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, labelled the Manila amendments, enter into force on January 1, 2012, with a five-year transitional period until 1 January 2017.
For the first time under STCW, mandatory limits for alcohol consumption are being introduced (a limit of not greater than 0.05% blood alcohol level or 0.25 mg/l alcohol in the breath), although individual flag states may choose to apply stricter limits.

The new STCW rest hour requirements state that seafarers must now always have at least 10 hours’ rest in any 24-hour period. This change was developed to comply with the International Labour Organisation’s Maritime Labour Convention, which is expected to enter into force in 2013. To help further reduce the possibility of fatigue, much of the flexibility that previously applied under STCW has now been removed.

The International Chamber of Shipping has advised shipowners to ensure they comply with the amendments. It warned that the new STCW minimum rest hour requirements are likely to be vigorously enforced by port state control officers, who will have the authority to check that ships maintain accurate records for individual seafarers which demonstrate they have been provided with the required minimum rest.

The ICS and the International Shipping Federation led employer representation at the International Maritime Organization diplomatic conference, which adopted the Manila amendments to the International Convention on STCW 2010.

ICS secretary-general Peter Hinchliffe said: “It is particularly important that companies comply with the new IMO rest hour requirements and record and monitor seafarers’ rest periods. Apart from the importance of preventing fatigue, port state control can be expected to begin checking the authenticity and accuracy of any records by comparing them with other vessel documentation. seafarers must also confirm that their hours are accurately recorded.”

The ICS also predicted that, because the STCW convention already has widespread ratification, the 2010 amendments will be enforced on a global basis earlier than the ILO MLC standards. In practice, from January 2012 it is therefore expected that STCW 2010 will become the principal regime for rest hours that will be checked by port state control.