How Long is Acceptable to Work a Week for a Seafarer Under STCW?

The STCW (Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers) establishes minimum qualification standards for the ship crew, including masters, watch personnel, and officers.

The 2010 Manila Amendments to the STCW Code, which came into effect on January 1, 2012, amended hours of rest on ships for seafarers in-line with the ILO. Regulations now require a minimum of 10 hours of rest in a period of 24 hours and 77 hours of rest in a period of any 7 days.

The STCW hours of rest are summarized below:

  • Minimum 10 hours of rest in a period of 24 hours
  • Minimum of 77 hours of rest in any 7 days
  • The gap between consecutive periods of rest should not be more than 14 hours
  • Rest periods need to be divided into no more than 2 periods, and one of them should be at least 6 hours.

As per the ILO Maritime convention (MLC 2006), the number of working hours on ships should be:

  • 8 hours per day
  • Maximum of 14 hours in a 24-hour period
  • Maximum of 72 hours in any 7-day period

It should be noted here that periods are stipulated in 7-day periods or 24-hour periods, as opposed to 1 day or 1 week. Contrary to standard working hours, here the clock does not start ticking at 0001 hours or the work week does not begin from Monday.

A Port State Control or Flag surveyor can check the rest hours or working hours for any 7-day or 24-hour period.

How Long Do STCW Certificates Last?

STCW certification was created to ensure the safety of life and property at sea, and also to protect the environment. This includes internationally accepted standards of training for seafarers, such as:

  • Certificates of proficiency
  • Certificates of competency
  • GMDSS radio operator certificates
  • Certificates of proficiency as rating
  • Certificates of safety training and social responsibilities

These certificates are generally valid for a period of 5 years from the expiry date of the original certificate.

The STCW 2010 certifications are valid only for 5 years. So, the basic and advanced training courses need to be refreshed. This, however, applies only to the parts of your qualification.

What is the Minimum Age for Someone to Work as a Seafarer?

Standard A1.1 of the MLC 2006 mentions the minimum age of seafarers to work on a ship.

  • Employment of any person under the age of 16 onboard is prohibited.
  • Seafarers under the age of 18 cannot participate in night work. Night shall be defined as per national practice and laws.
  • The employment and engagement of seafarers under the age of 18 is prohibited where the work is likely to risk their safety and well-being.

An exception to the night work restriction is allowed when:

  • The training of the seafarer concerned can be impaired.
  • The specific work or recognized training program of the seafarer under 18 will not be detrimental to their health and safety.

Under guideline B1.1 of the MLC 2006, special attention has to be given to crew members under 18, when regulating their work and living conditions.

What are the Rest Hours as Per STCW 2010?

The 2010 amendment to the STCW code stipulates the rest hours on ships as below:

  • Minimum 10 hours of rest in a period of 24 hours
  • Minimum of 77 hours of rest in any 7 days period
  • The gap between consecutive periods of rest should not be more than 14 hours
  • Rest periods need to be divided into no more than 2 periods, and one of them should be at least 6 hours

Working hours on ships cannot exceed 40 hours per week, or 8 hours per day, with one rest day in a week. These regulations might differ for seafarers who are less than 18 years of age. Also, exceptions in the above provisions can be made if the shipmaster requires all hands on deck during emergencies, or if they hinder crucial training schedules.

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