Relief for seafarers and administrators after IMO extends new certification deadline by six months to July 2017

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Pretoria: 07 December 2016

Seafarers across the world, including South Africa, are breathing a great sigh of relief after the International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee announced an extension of six months for the issuance of new certificates compliant with the Manila Convention 2010 and which every seafarer needed to have by January 2017.

The IMO’s safety committee has now extended the deadline to July 2017, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) confir20151207_151556 (2)med in Pretoria on Wednesday.

SAMSA, the country’s seafarer certificates issuing authority said the reprieve was agreed to with administrators that are party to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers STCW Convention at a five day meeting held with the IMO in London, United Kingdom, a couple of weeks ago.

According to SAMSA, the reprieve came in the wake of growing pressures experienced by seafarers’ certificates issuing administrations worldwide, and against which some appeared unlikely to meet the January 2017 deadline, thereby putting at risk thousands of seafarers’ jobs, with severe consequential disruptions to shipping liners’ operations globally.

SAMSA has since published the Marine Notice 38 of 2016 – Extension of Validity of STCW Certificates, which details the conditions under which the extension applies to seafarers holding South African certificates, as well as South African ships.

SAMSA said according to a previous arrangement announced in May this year, revised certificates covering a whole range of seafarer skills levels were being issued in terms of the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention (Manila Amendments) effective from May 2016.

IMG_1270Administrators worldwide would have until January 2017 to achieve this as all certificates issued prior to the Manila Amendments, in terms of The Merchant Shipping (Training and Certification) Regulations (1999 as amended) would expire at the end of 2016.

A Marine Notice (No.24 of 2016) to the effect was published by SAMSA on 24 May 2016, advising all affected parties of the need for affected band of seafarers to renew or revalidate their certificates prior to their expiry date on 31 December 2016.

According to the May 2016 notice (published on SAMSA’s website: http://www.samsa.org.za) applicants could use any number of ways to lodge their applications including delivering them in person or via a proxy to any of SAMSA’s offices countrywide, or filing their application online especially if they are out at sea or abroad.

At the time of the issue of the May 2016 Marine Notice, SAMSA anticipated issuing out as a matter of top priority, as many as 2300 Certificates of Competency and about 4000 Certificates of Proficiency compliant with the new Manila Amendments by December 2016.

This would be followed in sequence by as many as 5000 local certificates for fishing and port operations.

However SAMSA, as with several others administrators worldwide; experienced disruptive challenges related specifically to IT systems, and the situation simply piled on pressure.

IMG_4707 (2)IMG_4705 (2)Two weeks ago in London and following to appeals made by seafarers’ certificates issuing administrations worldwide, the IMO’s safety committee agreed to extend the deadline to July 2017.

In a statement the IMO safety committee said: “The Maritime Safety Committee, at its 97th session (21 to 25 November 2016), expressed concern with the implementation of the 2010 Manila Amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers {STCW), 1978, as amended, in light of the imminent end, on 1 January 2017, of the transitional provisions laid down in STCW Convention, regulation 1/15.

“The Committee noted that a large number of certificates needed to be issued by certificate issuing Parties confirming that their seafarers complied with the provisions of the 2010 Manila

“The Committee was particularly concerned about, and regretted the fact that, so close to the end of the transitional period, seafarers were reportedly unable to obtain certificates and/or the necessary endorsements required by regulation 1/10 meeting the requirements of the 2010 Manila Amendments to the STCW Convention.

“The Committee, therefore, urged all concerned, including certificate-issuing Parties and Administrations, to do their utmost to ensure that seafarers are issued with the appropriate certificates and necessary endorsements.

IMG_6394“The Committee agreed that, in cases where a seafarer’s documentation complies with the requirements in force immediately before 1 January 2017, but is not in accordance with the requirements of the 2010 Manila Amendments to the STCW Convention, port State control authorities, until1 July 2017, are recommended to take a pragmatic and practical approach during inspections and to notify the ships, seafarers and Administrations concerned accordingly,” the IMO Maritime Safety Committee said

In Pretoria on Wednesday, SAMSA said due to the postponement, certificates previously issued by SAMSA before it commenced issuing the ‘Manila’ compliance certificates would remain acceptable for service for seafarers until 01 July 2017.

“We are fortunate that this pressure on administrations has been recognised by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of the IMO during their 97th Session  and extended the deadline for the transitional provisions from 01 January 2017 to 01 July 2017. This gives us an additional six (6) months in which to issue all outstanding certificates,” said SAMSA.

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#AtSeaForAll as SA celebrates its seafarers

CELEBRATING SEAFARERS GLOBALLY: In this file photo Transport Minister Ms Dipuo Peters is seen with the country's first group of cadets taken on board a Vuka Marine's commercial cargo vessel, the Cape Orchid in September 2015 and who are now part of a growing cadre of seafarers - about 11 000 of them - servicing our oceans transport needs.
CELEBRATING SEAFARERS GLOBALLY: In this file photo Transport Minister Ms Dipuo Peters is seen with the country’s first group of cadets taken on board a Vuka Marine’s commercial cargo vessel, the Cape Orchid (the first to carry the country’s flag in 30 years) in September 2015 and who are now part of a growing cadre of seafarers – about 11 000 of them – servicing our oceans transport needs.

Pretoria: 25 June 2016

Thousands of South Africa’s online (and off line!) community are expected to join the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) on Saturday as South Africa celebrates its more than 11 000 seafarers in observation of the International Day of Seafarers.

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The Durban Yacht Club, the venue of Saturday’s International Day of Seafarers for South Africa celebrations hosted by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

In terms of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), focus of this year’s celebration is on drawing and heightening the international community’s awareness and recognition of the critical role played by sailors in domestic and global ocean transport for social, commercial and numerous other purposes.

IMG_0310As such, the campaign’s theme this year is: “At Sea For All” and SAMSA will activate the local version of the global effort in community engagement at the Durban Yacht Club – the venue of this year’s national boat show – at about noon today.

According to SAMSA, the Day of the Seafarer was first celebrated in 2011 following its establishment by a resolution adopted by the Conference of Parties to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978, held in Manila, Philippines, in June 2010, which adopted major revisions to the STCW Convention and Code.

The Day of the Seafarer had since been included in the annual list of United Nations Observances.

South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi
South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi

SAMSA said observation of the day provided an opportunity for the public in general to pay tribute to the world’s 1.5 million seafarers “for the unique and all-too-often overlooked contribution to the well-being of the general public.”

“At the coal face of driving economies around the world and at the forefront supporting international trade the seafarers, whether deck hands, captains of ships, engineers and cadets, galley staff play a very significant role in ensuring the world’s economic growth and sustainability,” said SAMSA acting Chief Executive Officer, Sobantu Tilayi.

Therefore, he said; seafarers were the face of the maritime industry and continuously worked hard to strive for excellence.

“Seafarers are those brave hearts who risk their lives, give up months of family time and being on land, to go out to sea, to not only support and protect our beloved country and their nations, but also to create an impact on each and every citizen by ensuring international trade, which affects us all. They make sure that the environment is protected, trade is flowing and our communities are able to thrive and develop themselves. It is therefore essential to raise our hands in salutation to these fearless men and women,” said Mr Tilayi.

IMG_2344Mr Tilayi encouraged the country to get together and acknowledge these unsung heroes. He said as a celebration to the seafarers and their challenging and demanding job, SAMSA continuously aimed to support and provide jobs in the maritime industry both for men and women.

“Our involvement in the Operations Phakisa Oceans Economy Initiative places us at the forefront of ensuring that South Africa produces seafarers of international standards. SAMSA would like to combine this industry where an abundance of jobs are available to combat the country’s current plight of high unemployment,” said Mr Tilayi.

In an appearance on the SABC News Breakfast Show ‘Weekend Live’ early on Saturday morning, Mr Tilayi further elaborated on the event. To listen, Click Here

Day of the Seafarer 2016

Meanwhile the schedule for the day is as follows:

Venue: Durban Yacht Club.

13h00: Army Band to start playing music at the SAMSA activation area.

13h15: Program  director to announce the purpose of the gathering and a few remarks.

13h20-13h30: Army Band to continue playing upbeat music to get the crowd hyped up.

13h30: Program director reads the message of support from the Secretary General of the IMO on the international Day of the Seafarer.

13h35: SAMSA CEO addresses the crowds on the International Day of the Seafarer.

13h45: Program director vote of thanks and introduces the Army band playing the National Anthem.

13h50: Army Band continues playing and the program ends.

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Newly designed SAMSA certificates find proud owners

Pretoria: 20 June 2016

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COMPETENCY CONFIRMED: (From Left) Mr Ryan Smith, Chief Navigating Officer at Smit Amandla Marine in Cape Town receiving recently his copy of the newly designed SAMSA Certificate of Competence from Captain Antoinette Keller, Deputy Principal Officer for the SAMSA Cape Town Office.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) issued newly designed Certificate of Competence for seafarers has begun finding home with the country’s sailors and who are simply almost wholly impressed with its features. The CoC is one of two newly designed certificates launched by the organization a month ago.

IMG_4705 (2)IMG_4707 (2)Modeled on South Africa’s Passport with intricate security features, the new certificates according to SAMSA’s Centre for Seafarers,  are in compliance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention) and the Merchant Shipping (Safe Manning, Training and Certification) Regulations, 2013, as amended (MS (SMTC) Regulations, 2013.

Chief Examiner at the Centre for Seafarers, Captain Azwimmbavhi Mulaudzi says the STCW Convention is one of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) cornerstone convention.

“It is a comprehensive set of international regulations intended to ensure that the highest standards of seafarer competence are maintained globally. The STCW 2010 amendments are intended to ensure that STCW standards stay relevant, so that seafarers can continue to develop and maintain their professional skills,” says Captain Mulaudzi.

IMG_6394To produce the new certificates featuring a set of new intricate security measures – inclusive of a watermark with the SAMSA logo; a background watermark featuring a South African Vessel which is visible when the document is held to the light, as well as hidden elements such as invisible ink and micro-printed text – SAMSA worked closely with the Government Printing Works (GPW.

According to Captain Mulaudzi: “These are all intended to prevent tampering, alteration, forgery and to allow for easy recognition of the genuine items and also to ensure that seafarers’ identities are protected.”

The first proud sailor to lay claim to the new CoC earlier this month is Ryan Smith, a Chief Navigating Officer (<3000GT>) at Smit Amanda Marine in Cape Town, a company he has been with since about 13 years ago.

Smith, a graduate of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and a seafarer who has gone through the ranks on board various scientific research vessels managed and operated by Smit Amanda Marine, as well as the Offshore Division of the company involving various Offshore Tugs, said he was impressed with the overall layout of the new CoC.

“The layout of the new COC is more refined and substantially simplified, with useful additional general information notes at the rear of the booklet,” said Smith.

Being the first seafarer in the country to lay claim to the new CoC will remain a matter of pride for him for a while yet, he mused.

Of his now over a decade old career at sea, Smith quipped: “My most memorable moment in my short career thus far was the salvage of the jack-up rig, Perro Negro 6 which capsized off Angola. At this time I was serving onboard the AHTS Smit Madura, under the command of Captain Toralf Grapow, my friend and mentor, and coincidentally the Master of the very first vessel I joined as a cadet!”

Meanwhile, according to Captain Pierre Schutz, a deputy Principal Officer and a chief examiner (deck) at SAMSA’s Cape Town office, one or two other sailors have since collected theirs as well.

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New Seafarer Certificate fully compliant with STCW Convention now available

Pretoria: 02 June 2016

HOLDING STANDARDS: (From Left) South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) CEO, Commander Tsietsi Mokhele, Register of Seafarers Mr Peace Moeketsi and Chief Examiner Captain Azwimbavhi Mulaudzi displaying the new seafarers' certificate now in use since May 2016.

HOLDING STANDARDS: (From Left) South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) CEO, Commander Tsietsi Mokhele, Registrar of Seafarers Mr Peace Moeketsi and Chief Examiner Captain Azwimbavhi Mulaudzi displaying the new seafarers’ certificate now in use since May 2016.

Sustained high levels of competence by seafarers manning millions of ocean going vessels across the globe is the most critical factor in the safe and efficient operation of ships, and has a direct impact on the safety of life at sea and the protection of the marine environment.

This, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) this week, is the basic rationale behind the release recently of a new seafarers’ certicicate conformant with international standards.

IMG_4707 (2)SAMSA Centre for Seafarers says the launch in May 2016 of the new Certificate is in compliance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention) and the Merchant Shipping (Safe Manning, Training and Certification) Regulations, 2013, as amended (MS (SMTC) Regs, 2013.

To read more, Click here