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The European Council adopted its position on a proposal to simplify and streamline the existing EU regulatory framework on seafarers’ training and certification. The aim is to keep EU rules aligned with international rules.

Recently, speaking in Manila, the Chairman of ICS, Esben Poulsson, called for a revision of the IMO STCW Convention, which governs global standards for the training and certification of about two million merchant seafarers.

Now, the European Council’s new position aspires to change the centralized mechanism for the recognition of seafarers from third countries, in order to increase its efficiency and effectiveness.

It will also increase legal clarity regarding the mutual recognition of seafarers’ certificates issued by member states.

The human factor is a vital element for safety at sea, and high-level training for seafarers is essential to minimize all risks. These revised rules will simplify procedures while making sure we maintain the highest standards The EU noted.

Speaking on the amendment, Norbert Hofer, Minister for Transport, Innovation and Technology of Austria, said that the Commission must check that EU member states and third countries comply with the requirements of the EU directive and the STCW Convention. He also added that the amended directive would streamline the procedure for recognizing new third countries and revise the deadlines.

As for the recognition of other member states’ seafarers, the new rules clarify which certificates need to be mutually recognized so as to allow seafarers certified by one EU country to work on board vessels flying another EU country’s flag.

According to the Council text, member states would have three years to adopt national provisions to put the new rules into practice.

The general approach forms the Council’s position for negotiations with the European Parliament. Both institutions have to approve the text before it can enter into force.


Specifically, the Commission proposed the following to the European Parliament and to the Council:


  • A new article which incorporates the scheme for the mutual recognition of seafarers’ certificates issued by the Member States contained in Article 3 of Directive 2005/45/EC, clarifying which certificates shall be recognized mutually for the purpose of allowing seafarers certified by one Member State to work on board vessels flying the flag of another Member State;


  • New amendments to the STCW Convention regarding new training and qualification requirements for seafarers working on board passenger ships and ships falling under the International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low-flashpoint Fuels (‘the IGF Code’) and the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (‘the Polar Code’), including new definitions (Articles 1 and 12 and Annex I);


  • New procedural step with an implementing decision to initiate the procedure for recognizing new third countries to allow the requesting Member State to present the reasons for submitting the recognition request, while all Member States will have an opportunity to discuss and decide on the request (Article 19);


  • Extension of the deadline for adopting a decision on the recognition of the third country from 18 months to 24 months or, in certain cases, to 36 months (Article 19);


  • Introduction of a distinctive reason to withdraw the recognition of a third country on the basis that that country has not provided any seafarers for at least five years to the EU fleet (Article 20);


  • Extension of the interval for the reassessment of third countries to up to 10 years on the basis of priority criteria (Article 21);


  • Amendment to Article 27 in order to empower the Commission to amend, through delegated acts, the necessary provisions of Directive 2008/106/EC so that they can be aligned with future amendments to the STCW Convention and Code.


The Shipping Working Party analyzed the proposal during the second semester of 2018. While the Commission’s proposal was welcomed and supported, the Shipping Working Party agreed on several amendments. These are:


  • Broader language on the information to be submitted by a Member State who requests the recognition of a third country. Delegations consider that an “estimation of the number of masters and officers from that country likely to be employed”, as proposed by the Commission, is too specific and not necessarily decisive; a reference to general information on the reasons for the recognition request, without specification, is more appropriate;


  • The deadline for adopting a decision on the recognition of a third country of 24 months or, in certain cases, 36 months, should be counted from the date of submission of a recognition request by a Member State and not from the date of adoption of a decision to initiate the recognition procedure by the Commission; furthermore, it is specified that the decision by the Commission to initiate recognition of a third country should be taken within a reasonable time with due regard to that deadline;


  • Regarding the withdrawal of recognition of a third country, this should not be done automatically only because that third country has not provided any seafarers to the EU fleet during a certain time; the recognition should be re-examined if the third country has not provided seafarers to the EU fleet during seven years (not five years as proposed by the Commission);


  • Regarding delegated acts, the empowerment of the Commission should only cover mandatory international instruments, and it has been specified that it should only cover the STCW Convention and the mandatory Part A of the STCW Code; furthermore, the Commission’s power to adopt delegated acts has been limited in time to five years;


  • Extension of the transposition period for the Directive to 36 months, instead of 12.




Following the Mumbai terror attacks in 2011, the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) in India banned the use of “Thuraya, Iridium and other such satellite phones” in Indian waters. However, crew members continue to be penalized by Indian authorities for violating the ban, according to data provided by Gard P&I Club.



DGS circular 02/2012 bans the use of “Thuraya, Iridium and other such Satellite” phones, which appears to extend the ban to Inmarsat phones, although some port circulars appear to limit the ban only to non-Inmarsat phones.


  • In any case, Indian authorities are likely to rely on the DGS order and Indian legislative requirements in the event of an investigation and caution is advised when proceeding to such ports.
  • Additionally, according to correspondent James Mackintosh, there have been instances where authorities have not raised any issues in respect of fixed Fleet Broadband (FBB) phones, however whether this practice will continue, is uncertain.
  • Dual phones are available, which can operate both in satellite and GSM mode. The use of such phones may be a violation of the requirements and custom authorities have seized phones with dual features.
  • The ban also extends to the use of sat-sleeves. These are adapters which can transform a regular phone into a satellite phone.
  • There are unfortunately no clear guidelines on satellite phones located in the citadel.

How to get a satellite phone authorized for use in Indian waters


Currently, a No Objection Certificate (NOC) can be obtained from the Indian Department of Telecommunications for INMARSAT-B, INMARSAT-C, INMARSAT-M, INMARSAT-Mini M, INMARSAT- Multimedia Mini M (M4). Members wishing to obtain an NOC for the satellite phones on their vessels, can apply to the CS Cell of Department of Telecommunications.


When applying for a NOC, the following information would generally be required:


  • Name of the party
  • Full address of the party
  • Place of use of INMARSAT terminals
  • Period of use of INMARSAT terminals
  • Purpose for which INMARSAT terminals will be used
  • Type of Terminal for which an NOC is required
  • Number of terminals for which an NOC is required.
  • he penalties for violationFinesThe unauthorised use of satellite phones in Indian waters is punished with a fine of of USD 500 – USD 1,000 or imprisonment up to three years. There have been some cases where the custom authorities have seized the satellite phone and valued the same at about USD 2,500.The Custom authorities sought to confiscate the seized satellite phone as “goods” impose a fine of USD 2,500, i.e. equal to the value of the phone, and an additional penalty of around USD 1,500 on the Master and/or owners of the vessel.There have also been cases where the offending seafarers have been issued with a show cause notice, although no seafarer appears to have been imprisoned so far. RecommendationsWith respect to the above, Gard Club recommended operators to provide guidance to their Masters to declare the satellite phones before entering Indian waters. In addition, crew members should be made aware not only of the relevant requirements but also of the severe consequences of a breach.IMO’S MSC 100 BEGINS WITH A BUSY SAFETY AGENDA

    Approve Interim guidance for conducting the refined MHB (CR) corrosivity test related to draft amendments to section of the IMSBC Code concerning test for metals.Autonomous shipsKey on the agenda is the issue of autonomous ships. MSC will receive the report of a correspondence group which has been testing the proposed methodology for the regulatory scoping exercise on autonomous surface ships, taking into account different levels of autonomy. A working group is expected to be established during the session. It is anticipated that the framework for the scoping exercise will be further developed and finalized. Goal-based standards and safety level approach Following the adoption of Goal-based ship construction standards for bulkers and oil tankers (GBS) and the successful initial verification of 12 Recognized Organizations by IMO GBS audit teams, MSC will consider the final report of the audit team that conducted the first maintenance of verification audit in order to ensure continued conformity of the rules with the GBS.


    Approval of revised guidelines on fatigue 


    The MSC is expected to approve revised IMO Guidelines on Fatigue, which have been thoroughly reviewed and updated by the HTW 5 Sub-Committee. The Guidelines provide information on the causes and consequences of fatigue, and the risks it poses to the safety and health of seafarers, operational safety, security and protection of the marine environment. The aim is to assist all stakeholders to contribute to the mitigation and management of fatigue.


    Safety of ships in polar waters


    The Committee is expected to establish a working group to further consider how to move forward with developing mandatory and/or recommendatory measures for ships operating in polar waters but not currently covered by the Polar Code.


    2020 sulphur cap


    The Committee will be invited to consider submissions concerning the potential need for guidance related to possible safety issues associated with the implementation of the 2020 sulphur cap. MEPC 73 in October invited MSC 100 to consider the outcome of the intersessional meeting concerning the safety implications associated with the use of low-sulphur fuel oil and take action.


    Adoption of amendments


    The MSC is expected to adopt the following amendments:


    • Draft amendments to update the 2011 ESP Code, including a series of technical and editorial revisions, as well as revisions related to criteria for grooving corrosion and various updated tables and diagrams.
    • Draft amendments to the SPS Code, including a revised chapter 8 on life-saving appliances; a requirement for special purpose ships to comply with the provisions of chapter IV of SOLAS; and a revised Form of Safety Certificate for Special Purpose Ships and Record of Equipment for Special Purpose Ship Safety Certificate (Form SPS).
    • Approval of draft amendments, guidance and guidelines


    The MSC is expected to:


    • Approve draft amendments to the IBC Code, with a view to subsequent adoption. The draft amendments include draft revised chapters 17 (Summary of minimum requirements), 18 (List of products to which the Code does not apply), 19 (Index of products carried in bulk) and 21 (Criteria for assigning carriage requirements for products subject to the IBC Code), as well as draft new paragraph 15.15 (Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) detection equipment for bulk liquids). Further draft amendments are consequential to draft amendments to MARPOL Annex II.


    • Approve draft amendments to the LSA Code regarding ventilation on totally enclosed lifeboats, in order to ensure a habitable environment is maintained in such survival craft. The draft new paragraphs (4.6.6 and 4.6.7) on means of ventilation for totally enclosed lifeboats, and on openings and closings, would require a totally enclosed lifeboat to be provided with means to achieve a ventilation rate of at least 5 m3/h per person for the number of persons which the lifeboat is permitted to accommodate, for not less than 24 hours.


    • Approve draft amendments to the LSA Code focused on manually-launched “rescue boats that are not one of the lifeboats” on cargo ships. The draft amendments (to paragraph also include a requirement for means to bring the rescue boat against the ship’s side and hold it so that persons can be safely embarked.


    • Approve draft Revised guidelines for the approval of fixed water-based fire-fighting systems for ro-ro spaces and special category spaces (to update the guidelines in MSC.1/Circ.1430). The revision relates in particular to the position of sprinklers or nozzles, to ensure adequate performance, and to reliable control of fixed water-based fire-fighting systems.


    • Instruct relevant sub-committees to consider relevant parts of the draft interim guidelines for the safety of ships using methanol as fuel prepared by CCC 5. The detailed interim guidelines provide requirements for the arrangement, installation, control and monitoring of machinery, equipment and systems using methyl/ethyl alcohol as fuel to minimize the risk to the ship, its crew and the environment, taking into account to the nature of the fuels involved.


    • Consider draft amendments to the International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other IGF Code in particular proposed modifications to regulation 9.5.6 relating to the leakage detection requirements for pipes carrying liquefied fuel.


    • Approve draft interim guidelines on the application of high manganese austenitic steel for cryogenic service. The interim guidelines are aimed at ensuring the safety of LNG-fueled ships, by specifying the requirements for the utilization of high manganese austenitic steel in the design and fabrication of cargo and fuel tanks complying with the IGC and IGF Codes. 

          The world’s advanced economies will see a rise in their carbon dioxide emissions in 2018, overturning a five year-long decline, IEA reported. Namely, CO2 emissions in these economies will increase by 0.5% in 2018.

          According to the latest energy data, CO2 emissions in North America, the European Union and other advanced economies in Asia Pacific increase, as more oil and gas use more than offset declining coal consumption. Thus, IEA expects CO2 emissions in these economies to rise by about 0.5% in 2018.

          Despite the fact that the growth in emissions is less than the 2.4% rise in economic growth, it makes it difficult to achieve the Paris Agreement goals.

          These news come at a time when the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 24) to the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has opened in Katowice, Poland, on 3 December, gathering parties to push further work on the fight against climate change.

          The conference, which coincides with the three year anniversary of the Paris Agreement adoption, is expected to finalize the rules for implementation of the Paris Agreement under the Paris Agreement work programme (PAWP). It will also include a number of high-level events, mandated events, action events and roundtables.

          The IEA also expects emerging economies to produce more CO2 than last year. Namely, all indications point to emissions growth worldwide, driven by increasing energy use and the expansion of global economy expanding by 3.7%.

          Energy-related CO2 emissions from advanced economies had fallen by 3% over the last five years. This was mainly due to a decline in coal consumption, because of a rapid growth in renewables sources of energy, more efficient equipment and appliances, and coal-to-gas switching.


          However, global oil demand will grow significantly in 2018, along with global gas use, mainly driven by Chinese policies to reduce air pollution in cities. This will lead to a growth in global CO2 emissions in 2018. This growth will come after last year’s 1.6% increase, which stopped a three-year period of flat emissions between 2014 and 2016.


          It is interesting that in the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario, which is aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement as well as lower air pollution and universal energy access, global emissions fall by over 1% every year until 2025.




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