How to get an STCW Basic Safety Certificate

If you intend to work as crew in the yachting industry, you’ll first need to complete your STCW Basic Safety Training and be in receipt of the correct STCW certification before you begin your quest to land a yacht job.

Being armed with this will open up a range of career opportunities within the world of superyachts.

Fire Students

What is ‘STCW’ and do I need it?

The STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers) is an internationally recognised certification standard required by all seafarers working on commercial vessels above 24 metres (79 feet) in length. This includes crew working on commercial ships, ferries, cruise ships and superyachts.

STCW certification is also recommended for those looking for work on private yachts, as owners, captains and/or management companies will rarely hire crew without it.

STCW Basic Safety Training encompasses five courses or modules designed to keep all crew safe on board. These courses provide you with an understanding of the basic safety and survival skills that are essential for anyone working at sea.

What’s the difference between the STCW 95 and STCW 2010?

The STCW 2010 is the updated version of the STCW 95 (and STCW 78 conventions).

In 1978, the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) decided to standardise maritime training across the globe.

Up to this point individual governments set the standards themselves, without consulting other countries. The result was that training practices and procedures differed from country to country. Given that shipping is a worldwide industry, there were many examples of nations not accepting another's training. Consequently ships ended up being delayed in port due to 'red tape' and political arguments ensued between nations.

A meeting of all IMO member states saw an agreement on a standard of training and certifications, which were to be adopted by all states from 1978 onwards. The agreement was ratified in 1978 (hence the name STCW 78) and officially came into force in 1994.

The following year, on 7th July 1995, the STCW code was updated. These were primarily administrative changes to ensure the convention was up-to-date. The main principles of the STCW 95 were that all crew should receive basic training to handle any emergencies on board.

In 2010 another update was made to the STCW. Known as the Manila amendments, these changes set the latest training standards and certification for seafarers. It finally came into force in 2014. Most notably it introduced Security Awareness training to aid the seafarer's ability to identify threats and take the appropriate steps to combat them.

Crew members who do not have this additional security qualification must take a course to maintain the validity of their previous training.

Sea Survival Training

What's involved?

There are five courses or modules included in STCW Basic Safety training, which form the backbone of the certification. Each one tackles a specific area of marine safety and essential knowledge:

1. Personal Survival Techniques (A-VI/1-1)

A one-day course teaching the actions to be taken by individuals to protect themselves in emergency situations. It includes practical training using life jackets and inflatable life rafts.

2. Fire Fighting and Fire Prevention (A-VI/1-2)

A two-and-a-half day course outlining precautions for minimising the risk of fire, the causes of fires and how to extinguish them. It also includes practical training using fire fighting equipment and breathing apparatus to extinguish various types and sizes of fires.

CPR Training

3. Elementary First Aid (A-VI/1-3)

A one-day practical course combining theory and practical training for basic first aid and life-saving skills.

4. Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities (A-VI/1-4)

A half-day, classroom-based course covering basic induction training in safety procedures and accident prevention. It also familiarises beginners with the employment conditions and working environment on board.

5. Proficiency in Security Awareness (A-VI/6-1)

A half-day course providing knowledge, understanding and proficiency to personnel intending to work on ships who will not have any designated security duties. This certification is a recent requirement for yacht crew who previously had no security training.

These five modules form the STCW Basic Safety Training modules, and are often offered to be taken together over the course of one week for a single fee. This means someone looking to train will very rarely have to book and pay for individual modules separately, though this is possible and remains just as valid once all modules are complete.

Are there any pre-STCW requirements?

None at all, so you could begin the STCW training straight away should you want to. However, it might be beneficial to complete your ENG1 medical certificate first, as some of the training can be physically demanding and require a strong base level of fitness.

How much does the STCW cost?

STCW training costs vary from provider to provider, but a typical week-long STCW course covering all key modules costs around €900-€950 (c. £750-£800). There are, however, a whole host of other variables that can affect cost, such as whether accommodation is provided. If accommodation is not provided, you can discover accommodation options.

How long does my STCW training last?

Under recent regulations, updated proficiency training has to be undertaken every five years. Seafarers revalidating their Certificate of Competency (CoC) after 1st January 2017 will be required to submit documentary evidence of having completed an STCW Refresher Course in Fire Fighting and Sea Survival in the last five years.

Where can I get my STCW training?

Most marine and crew-training providers offer the courses required for STCW certification. You can get your STCW certification in any country (from an approved training provider) as it’s internationally recognised and standardised. You’ll easily find certified training providers in yachting hotspots around the world.

Looking for somewhere to undertake your STCW Basic Safety Training? Search for STCW training providers in our extensive superyacht directory.

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