The IMO Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watch-keeping held its 6th Session (HTW 6) from 29 April through 3 May 2019.  Mrs Mayte Medina (USA), Chaired the meeting, supported by her Vice Chair, Mrs Farrah Fadil (SINGAPORE) both of whom were re-elected for 2020.   Three Working Groups (WG) and one Drafting Group (DG) were formed and chaired as follows:



WG 1


STCW-F Convention Guidelines, Mrs F Fadil (SINGAPORE)
WG 2 Certification and Training Matters, Mrs M Adams (MARSHALL ISLANDS)


WG 3


DG 1

Validation of Model Courses, Captain G Edenfield (USA)


Revision of three Model Courses, Captain K Deboo (INDIA)




The meeting was attended by representatives from 85 Member States, 2 Associate Members, 1 UN  Specialised Agency, 1 Observer Inter-Governmental Organisation and 25 Non-Governmental Organisations.


Items of particular interest to InterManager Members are as follows:


ADDRESS  BY SECRETARY GENERAL.  The Secretary-General of IMO, Mr Kitack Lim, reminded delegates of this year’s World Maritime Day theme, “Empowering women in the maritime community” which will be celebrated at IMO Headquarters on 26 September preceded by the annual parallel event to be held in Cartagena, Columbia from 15 to 17 September.

Mr Lim expressed his firm belief that the maritime sector, including shipping, ports and the people who operate them, can and should play a significant role in helping Member States to create employment, prosperity and stability ashore through the promotion of trade by sea.


Turning to the main agenda items of the week’s HTW 6 meeting, he singled out:


  • necessary work on model courses which will contribute significantly to the effective implementation of the STCW Convention. Moreover, consideration will be given to the possibility of converting existing model courses into e-learning courses;
  • the need to expedite the work on the comprehensive review of the STCW-F convention, whilst mentioning that a Ministerial Conference on Fishing Vessel Safety and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing will be held in Torremolinos, Spain in October this year;
  • human element issues, in which context he paid tribute to the Human Element Industry Group (HEIG), of which InterManager is a member, for their proposal to this session of a better structured approach when considering HE matters;
  • partnership with other UN agencies, in particular the establishment of a joint ILO/IMO working group to develop guidelines on medical examination of fishing vessels’ personnel;
  • compilation of a draft revised list of Parties that have provided evidence of compliance with the provisions of the Convention (the White List) which has not been reviewed since the Manila Amendments came into force on 1 January 2012; and,
  • Two side events in the margins of HTW 6, namely a seminar on “Scenario for Seafarers’ Mental Health” and a presentation designed to raise further awareness of the importance of this year’s World Maritime Day theme.


Rounding off his welcoming address, the Secretary-General extended his best wishes to all present for every success in the coming week’s deliberations.



VALIDATED MODEL TRAINING COURSES.  MEPC 73 and MSC 100 instructed HTW 6 to identify and prioritise which of the model courses could be considered for conversion into e-learning model courses and to consider reviewing the ‘Revised guidelines for the development, review and validation of model courses’ if deemed appropriate.  Following consideration, the Sub-Committee advised the Committee that such conversion would:


  • Change the current approach and goal of model courses, as they are not courses ready to be delivered, rather tools to assist development of detailed training programmes;
  • Require careful consideration of any accountability implications for the subsequent assessment of competence, training quality and independent evaluation relating to the training material in accordance with the STCW Convention; and,
  • Lead to involvement of the III Sub-Committee as to whether e-learning training material could assist with the implementation of instruments other than the STCW Convention.


In considering the Actions Requested by the Secretariat in its document HTW 6/3 reporting on the model courses programme under the Revised guidelines, the Sub-Committee:


  • Endorsed the establishment of a review/drafting group for the finalisation of new courses on advanced training for masters, officers, ratings and other personnel on ships subject to the IGF Code with a view to finalisation at this session;
  • Noted the overview of the complete set of IMO model courses;
  • Endorsed the proposal for model courses to be revised for validation by HTW 7;
  • Instructed the DG to prepare TORs before instructing the course developers to start work;
  • Established groups to work intersessionally by correspondence to review the above courses and selected review group coordinators;
  • Noted that the Secretariat has put in train the recruitment of a dedicated technical officer and agreed to hiring experts funded by the Model Courses Trust Fund for the development and revision of all model courses, encouraging Member States to take on the role as course developers; and,
  • Considered the information provided for the update of the Joint ILO/IMO/WHO International Medical Guide for Ships (IMGS), with a view to revising the medical model courses.


Recognising that the joint ILO/IMO/WHO International Medical guide for Ships (IMGS) needed replacement, a proposal by ICS to form an industry steering group to develop a new joint ILO/IMO medical guide for ships, and not to update the current IMGS, without the participation of WHO was agreed.  It was also agreed that the revision of the medical-related model courses should only be undertaken once the new IMGS is approved by both ILO and IMO.


Having considered all matters related to the validation of model courses, the Sub-Committee deemed that a working group (WG 3) and a drafting group (DG 1) on model courses were necessary to facilitate completion of the work.  The Sub-Committee subsequently approved the reports of both Groups in general, and, in particular:


WG 3


  1. Validated two draft new model courses, the first for Basic training and the second, for Advanced training for masters, officers, ratings and other personnel on ships subject to the IGF Code;
  2. Endorsed the recommendation to establish the Correspondence Group on Action verb taxonomy for model courses;
  3. Noted the need for broad participation in the CG to take multi-language user needs into account for interchangeability of action verbs to other languages; and
  4. Noted that a WG needs to be established at a future session in order to continue the work in a thorough manner.




  1. Endorsed the advice, in conjunction with existing terms of references and time frames prepared by the Group with a view to assisting the developers in two model courses on that of Passenger safety, cargo safety and hull integrity training, also Advanced training in firefighting; and,
  2. Approved the draft terms of reference for the revision of model courses 3.25 and 3.27 on Security awareness training for all port facility personnel and all seafarers, also 3.26 on Security training for seafarers with designated security duties.  In consideration of these three courses, the Chair ruled that their validation should be deferred to HTW 8.


REPORTS ON UNLAWFUL PRACTICES ASSOCIATED WITH CERTIFICATES OF COMPETENCY.  The large number of fraudulent certificates reported by Parties persuaded Member States and international organisations to agree on the need for a strategy to address the problems associated with fraudulent certificates of competency but the Sub-Committee noted that any such proposals have yet to be submitted and urged greater participation by Members.


GUIDANCE FOR STCW CODE, SECTION B-1/2.  It was recalled that MSC 98 had agreed to change the existing description of this output, I,e, “Guidance for the implementation of the 2010 Manila Amendments” to that in the above title, with a view to completing the addressing of issues identified during implementation of the Amendments and so provide better guidance to Parties, Administrations, port State control authorities, recognised organisations and other relevant parties.  Accordingly, a correspondence group co-ordinated by India, was established to finalise the draft amendments and report to this session of HTW in which they recommended the establishment of a working group which was duly convened as WG 2.  In addition, WG 2 was also instructed to consider three items from Agenda item 12 (Any Other Business) concerning methyl/ethyl alcohol as fuel, Port State Control matters and finally, preparation of draft amendments to section A-1/1 of the STCW Code.


The Sub-Committee approved WG 2s subsequent report in general, and in particular:


  1. Agreed to the draft amendments to table B-1/2 of the STCW Code for submission to the Committee with a view to adoption;
  2. Invited III 6 to consider the Group’s view of appendices 8 and 11 of the Procedures for Port State Control, 2017 on the Guidelines for Port State Control Officers (PSCOs) on the ISM Code and the Guidelines for PSCOs on certification of seafarers, manning and hours of rest;
  3. Invited CCC 6 to consider the Group’s proposed amendments to section 16 of the draft interim guidelines for the safety of ships using methyl/ethyl alcohol as fuel;
  4. Noted that STCW regulation V/3 and section A-V/3 of the STCW Code might need to be amended once CCC completes its work;
  5. Agreed to the draft amendment to section A-1/1 related to operational level of electro-technical officer, as a consequential amendment , for submission to MSC for approval with a view to adoption;
  6. Agreed to the draft definition of “high voltage” in STCW regulation 1/1 for submission to MSC; and
  7. Invited interested parties to submit proposals for a new output, taking into account the concerns expressed regarding the term “high voltage”.


COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW OF THE 1995 STCW-F CONVENTION.  As this item exclusively concerns fishing vessels and is of scant interest to InterManager members, it will not be covered in any detail but should anyone require further information, it can easily be supplied.  However, it may be of interest to know that a working group (WG 1) was convened to consider the draft provisions of the STCW-F Convention.  WG 1s subsequent report was approved by the Sub-Committee in general, and in particular it;

  1. Noted the discussions and progress on the draft revised annex to the STCW-F convention and the draft text of a new STCW-F Code;
  2. Endorsed the work plan for the completion of the comprehensive review of the 1995 STCW-F Convention;
  3. Approved the terms of reference for a correspondence group to work intersessionally; and,
  4. Invited MSC to endorse the establishment of an intersessional working group before HTW 7 prior to seeking Council’s financial approval.



ROLE OF THE HUMAN ELEMENT.  It was recalled that MSC 100 had endorsed the agreement of HTW 5 that any proposals to include fatigue risk management tools as appendices to the guidelines could be considered under the agenda item on the “Role of the human element”, taking into account that such tools should be relevant to the maritime sector, practical, useful for seafarers and consistent with IMO instruments.  It was further noted that the Sectoral Meeting on the Recruitment and retention of seafarers and the promotion of opportunities for women seafarers held in Geneva on 25 February 2019 agreed that ILO should strengthen its partnership with IMO on issues such as flag and port State control inspections, barriers to recruitment, and, retention of seafarers.  It also agreed that ILO and IMO should establish an ILO/IMO tripartite working group to identify and address seafarers’ issues and the human element, both of which proposals will be submitted to the 337th session of the Governing Body of ILO in October/November 2019 for its consideration.

It was recalled that, following the release of marine safety investigation reports to the public, by default, in the Marine Casualties and Incidents (MCI) of GISIS, MSC 99 had concurred with III 4’s invitation to the HTW Sub-Committee to advise Member States on the release and the availability of these reports for the benefit of seafarers’ training and education

Following discussion on “Guidance on the application of casualty cases and lessons learned to seafarers’ education and training” and a helpful paper on the subject submitted by China, the Sub-Committee recognised:

  • The positive impact on the maritime community of developing guidance:
  • That the III Sub-Committee involvement should be limited to making casualty investigation reports and the corresponding root causes available, subject to Member States providing such information; and,
  • That the establishment of a correspondence group to start with the development of guidance was premature at this stage due to the lack of sufficient relevant information.

A further submission by China under this item discussed the need to develop standards and guidance for seafarers to improve their lookout information processing skills based on a case study as to how errors in lookout information processing can lead to collision accidents.  However, it was noted that lookout information processing skills are addressed in COLREG 1972 and that in this context, model course 1.22 on Bridge resource management is under revision such that additional information based on the provisions of the 1978 STCW Convention, as amended, could be included in the course, as appropriate.

InterManager joined other NGOs in submitting document HTW 6/7/2 providing information on recent use of the ‘Checklist for considering human element issues by IMO bodies’, assessing its contribution to establishing a structured approach for the proper consideration of human element issues at IMO and discussing the possible need to review the specific questions in the checklist and associated guidance and instructions.  Following consideration, the Sub-Committee concluded that the checklist should be reviewed and invited MSC 102s agreement that the work will be carried out under the output on the “Role of the human element”.





The Sub-Committee had for its consideration the following documents:


  1. HTW 6/9 (China), proposing a review of the relevant provisions of the 1978 STCW Convention, as amended, particularly in regulation1/2, to clearly address seafarers’ electronic certificates and documents, including the development of practical guidance on the issuance, verification, data form, and security, by which Member States can  accommodate their application; and,
  2. HTW 6/9/1 (Russian Federation), proposing the establishment of a correspondence group, together with draft terms of reference to address the use of electronic certificates and documents of seafarers by means of possible amendments to the STCW Convention, and parts A and B of the STCW Code.


In discussion, the Sub-Committee noted the following views:


  • The use of electronic certificates and documents should be encouraged in line with digitalisation efforts within the maritime sector;
  • Standardisation, compatibility, verification of authenticity, confidentiality of personal data, verification by port State control (PSC) regimes, encryption and security are all issues to be considered;
  • Invite the III Sub-Committee to consider how PSC regimes should deal with electronic certificates and documents of seafarers; and,
  • Consider different levels of digitalisation and take possible disruptions into account when addressing such matters.


Following this, the Sub-Committee established the Correspondence Group on the Use of electronic certificates and documents of seafarers, under the coordination of the Russian Federation, and instructed it, taking into account the comments made and decisions taken at HTW 6, as well as documents HTW 6/9 and HTW 6/9/1, to address the following matters:


  • Verification of authenticity;
  • Security assurance;
  • Data form;
  • Physical location (storage);
  • Privacy; and,
  • Any other issues


Finally, the CG was also instructed to identify provisions of the STCW Convention and parts A and B of the STCW Code that might need to be amended in order to allow and facilitate the use of electronic seafarers’ certificates and documents, preparing draft amendments as necessary, and to submit a report of their work to HTW 7.





Draft interim guidelines for minimising the incidence and consequences of fires in ro-ro spaces and special category spaces of new and existing ro-ro passenger ships. 


Text provided by the Secretariat (HTW 6/WP.7) regarding the relevant sections of the draft interim guidelines was debated in Plenary.  It was decided to retain and merge only 2 sub-paragraphs of the proffered text under EXTINGUISHMENT  3.2  Appropriate training and drills as follows :


  • Relevant crew members should be trained on fire-fighting strategies and risks associated with alternatively powered vehicles such as battery or gas driven vehicles; and,
  • Relevant crew members should receive adequate training and participate in drills in order to be familiar with the specific arrangements of the ship, as well as the location, operation and limitations of the fire-fighting systems and appliances that they may be called upon for use in ro-ro spaces and special category spaces.


Communication of information in accordance with the 1978 STCW Convention, as amended.


The Sub-Committee considered documents HTW 6/12 and Corr.1 submitted by the Secretariat suggesting consideration of action to be taken by the Maritime Safety Committee with regard to the review of the list of Parties to the 1978 Convention, as amended, contained in MSC.1/Circ.1163/Rev.11.  It was noted that the list (the so-called “White List”) only included Parties that had communicated information demonstrating that they give full and complete effect to the relevant provisions of the Convention, as provided in STCW regulation 1/7.3.2.  In the ensuing spirited Plenary discussion, roughly 17 strong viewpoints were aired, including the need to define the purpose of the “White List”, a revision of which would provide certainty and increase confidence in the whole maritime training system.  Also highlighted,

were inconsistencies in the review process as a result of the lack of skills of both competent persons and STCW Parties’ officials.


Following discussion, the Sub-Committee:


  1. Noted that the responsibility for the communication of information lies with the STCW Parties;
  2. Noted that the time frames for the compliance with the “communication of information” provisions are provided in part A of the STCW Code, as amended, also the related procedures and guidance; and,
  3. Invited MSC to consider the issues raised and include the output on “Implementation of the STCW Convention” in the provisional agenda for HTW 7.


Comprehensive review of the STCW Convention and Code.


Following discussion of submissions by ICS, IAMU and ITF into the initiation of a proposed review of the STCW Convention and Code, the Sub-Committee concluded that the finalisation and entry into force of amendments would take a lengthy period of time but nevertheless invited interested Member States and international organisations to note the comments and submit a proposal for a new output in accordance with the Committees’ method of work.



DATE OF NEXT MEETING.  The next meeting is provisionally scheduled for 1 -5 June 2020.





















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