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STCW - Need a Refresher?

Dec 11th 09
By Janine Ketterer [Photo courtesy of Flagship Training]

In the past decade we have seen yachting go from basically a free-for-all industry to a regulated one. Part of the tightening of regulations included the mandatory requirement that all crew hold their STCW basic safety certificates. But what if a crewmember took his or her STCW several years ago? What, if anything, do crew remember from their training and how valuable is STCW training if crew are simply going to forget it after they learn?

A recent poll on asked crew if they thought STCW refresher courses should be mandatory.

Of all crew who took the poll, 36 percent say that they remember all of their training with 48 percent saying they retained some knowledge, nine percent claiming they don’t remember much and six percent who say that they don’t remember anything at all. Bosun Ashleigh of M/Y Zoom Zoom Zoom says, “To be honest, most of the yachties do their STCW just to get into the industry, they don’t really take anything out of it.”

Yet seventy-nine percent of polled crew maintained that the training is indeed relevant to their work, and so, an important aspect of becoming yacht crew.

Most crew said they use their training on a weekly or monthly basis so perhaps a refresher isn’t needed when crew are constantly utilizing the information they’ve learned. Second Stew Teresa of M/Y Trident says, “I think it depends on how long ago crew have done their STCW. I’ve taken a refresher fire fighting course as well as first aid, but on our boat we do drills as often as we can and so are always using what we’ve learned.” Deckhand John of M/Y Zoom Zoom Zoom agrees, “I reckon it’s important to have refresher courses, but on board we do so many drills that it’s always refreshed anyway.”

Second Engineer Stuart of M/Y Passion says, “Obviously STCW is very important because everyone needs to know the basics, but I don’t think it should be mandatory.”

Perhaps money is an issue. Crew continually need to shell out cash in order to upgrade licenses, enabling them to move up the next rung on the career ladder. A mandatory STCW refresher course would only add to outlay of money.

An engineer who wishes to remain anonymous had this to say: “Refresher courses should be made mandatory, but no one should profit off of this. There are a lot of courses out there that are really crap.” Deckhand John agrees, “It would be great if the boats would pay for refresher courses.”

They say the only constant in life is change and this proves true with our society’s constant upgrading of technology. The anonymous engineer says, “Refresher courses are needed because just like everything else, if you practice piss poor, than you’ll be piss poor in action. Also, there are always new technologies out there and different ways of doing things that people need to be introduced to.”

Crew responded that they feel Basic Fire Fighting and Fire Prevention is the most important part of STCW training. And roughly half of crew feel that Personal Safety and Social Responsibility is the least relevant to their jobs. (A glitch in the system shows zero percent of crew answered this, however, we were able to tally the numbers separately)

Rumors have been circulating that the IMO will be making refresher safety training mandatory in the next STCW revisions. So it’s good to hear that poll respondents apparently agree with the plan with 76 percent of crew polled believing that refresher courses should be made mandatory and 69 percent who feel that they could personally benefit from a refresher. What do you think?





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