I have today published as a draft the Merchant Shipping (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) Regulations 2022 and an accompanying draft explanatory memorandum. The draft regulations revoke and replace the Merchant Shipping (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) Regulations 2015 (S.l. 2015/782) to implement the seafarer training, certification and watchkeeping standards contained in the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978 (“the STCW convention”).
The draft regulations are being published for 28 days. Following the conclusion of this period, and once any observations on the draft regulations have been taken into account, they will be laid for approval by each House of Parliament. This procedure is required under paragraph 14 of schedule 8 to the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 because these regulations revoke an instrument that was made, in part, under section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972. Further details about why the changes are needed and the effect they will have on retained EU law are contained in the annex to the draft explanatory memorandum.
The draft regulations replace the existing legislation making provision for seafarer training and will implement the latest requirements for seafarers’ training in the STCW convention. This provision relates to new requirements for seafarers serving on ships subject to the “International Code of Safety for Ships Using Gases or Other Low-Flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code)” and passenger ships. Implementing these amendments to the STCW convention ensures that seafarers on these types of specialised ships can undertake the required additional training and be issued with the necessary certification to demonstrate the appropriate level of competency. This will allow United Kingdom seafarers to take up employment on these types of vessels.
The draft regulations contain additional provision to ensure wider compliance with seafarer training requirements. The definition of “seafarer” has been clarified to ensure that all persons engaged in the operation or navigation of a pleasure vessel to which the draft regulations apply (24 metres or over in length or 80 gross tonnes or over) are included within the definition. The provision and quality of training has been revised to enable the Secretary of State not only to approve a training provider, but also to suspend or cancel the approval; this is needed because the STCW convention places obligations on Governments to ensure that training providers deliver all training in accordance with the convention requirements. Amendments contained in the draft legislation also enable the Government to recoup the costs of carrying out the approval of training providers who deliver seafarer training.
The draft regulations aim to meet the objectives in the Government’s maritime 2050 strategy to modernise and grow the British maritime sector, including alternative training provision for engineers on small vessels; this will support UK industry and boost employment opportunities for UK seafarers. Additionally, express provision to provide for seafarer training equivalent to that of the STCW convention will help relevant sectors of industry to avoid being unnecessarily burdened with cumbersome certification requirements, while modernising and updating UK training and certification.
The draft regulations also include an ambulatory reference provision to ensure that future amendments to the STCW convention referred to in the draft regulations will automatically become UK law when they enter into force internationally. As required by the regulations, a ministerial statement will be provided to both Houses of Parliament ahead of any amendment to the STCW convention referenced in the regulations, prior to it coming into force in UK law by way of the ambulatory reference provision.
The draft regulations and the accompanying draft explanatory memorandum can be found on gov.uk.