The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is the United Nations’ specialized agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships. In 1978, the IMO developed the first set of minimum standards of training for all crew members of commercial ships and large passenger vessels and yachts. Called the Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping (STCW), these standards became mandatory in 1996 and effective by 2002.
There are standards for training at all levels of crew members, from captains to deckhands.
One of the STCW’s requirements is that all crew members that participate in muster need to receive a five-day basic safety training. Muster is the drill that all passengers and crew members conduct in port prior to each cruise. Everyone onboard must know where life jackets are, how to put them on, and where to go if there were an emergency while at sea. There are four primary sections of the basic safety classes:
The certificate crew members earn for taking this course must be renewed every five years so that these essential skills are always kept fresh.
In this section of the training, students inspect and pack a survival suit, and learn how to put one on in less than five minutes. Then they enter the water wearing the suit, swim to a life raft, and learn techniques for pulling in passengers to the life raft, including passengers who may be injured. Other lifesaving techniques and skills are also usually presented during this training.
During this training, crew members will learn safety items such as ballast water management strategies. The IMO requires ships to replace coastal water with open-ocean water during a voyage. This process reduces the density of coastal organisms in ballast tanks that may be able to invade a recipient port, and replaces them with oceanic organisms with a lower probability of survival.
Another item discussed in this training section is the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requirement of avoiding and reporting endangered right whales. Since these requirements change frequently, it is beneficial for all crew members to have this training to stay up to date on the latest regulations.
As the name implies, all crew members receive training in basic first aid techniques and methods, from CPR to learning the causes of and methods for handling heart attacks. Students also learn helicopter rescue procedures, how to handle hazardous materials, and similar information.
Students learn how to develop an organized plan of attack to handle fires, and get practice wearing self-contained breathing apparatuses. This class also discusses how to develop and implement fire drills, and students learn how to operate all firefighting equipment onboard a yacht. This is a two-day section of the class.
You can see that STCW 2010 basic safety training is a comprehensive class that should give students confidence that they can handle themselves and help others in the event of any emergency.