As far it concerns medical certificates, these remain valid for two years unless a seafarer is under 18; in this case it is valid only one year. It is advisable to check the expiry date before voyage but if the certificate expires in the course of a voyage then it will remain in force until the next port where there is a recognized medical practitioner; however this period cannot exceed three months.

Overall, seafarers need to keep in mind that it is important to check the expiry date on all of their STCW certificates and documents since expired certificates are not valid for service onboard and cannot be acceptable.

3 types of mandatory familiarization training

When joining a new ship, all seafarers are required to undergo:

  1. Basic safety familiarization training which gives information and instruction in the case of an emergency.
  2. Ship-specific familiarization which gives the opportunity to seafarers to become acquainted with the specific equipment they will be using, and ship specific watch-keeping, safety, environmental protection and emergency procedures.
  3. Security familiarization which include measures to take in the event of a piracy or armed robbery threat or attack.

Before being assigned to shipboard duties, approved training in personal survival techniques is necessary in order to be able to:

  • communicate with other persons on board on safety issues
  • understand safety information symbols, signs and alarm signals
  • know the procedures for man overboard, fire or smoke detected, and abandon ship alarms
  • identify muster and embarkation stations
  • identify escape routes
  • locate and don life jackets
  • use fire extinguishers
  • take immediate action upon encountering an accident or other medical emergency
  • operate fire, weather-tight and watertight doors fitted in the particular ship other than those for hull openings.

Onboard training and assessment

Any training that is carried out on-board, as part of an approved training programme, must be recorded in a training record book. The tasks assigned in this book should be completed by the candidate under the supervision of a training supervisor on board. This will normally be a designated officer. The training supervisor will inspect the progress made by the student and sign the book accordingly. Training record books should also be checked regularly by the master.

On completion of all the tasks contained in the record book, this is submitted to examiners from the administration or from training establishments. They will inspect it as part of the evidence to demonstrate that the candidate has achieved the standard of competence in order to qualify for an STCW certificate.