to the standards of the appropriate, competent international organizations. Because of accidents involving substandard ships and crews, suggesting that the actions of some flag states has been deficient, the IMO has been actively promoting port-state enforcement of IMO standards (IMO News, 1994). The IMO continues to move toward measures that would enable it to make better assessments of member states' compliance with the various international conventions.


The STCW guidelines contain certification, watchkeeping, experience, and knowledge requirements for masters, chief mates, and deck officers. It also includes standards for engineering department officers and radio officers. Experience is relied on as the means by which mariners acquire practical knowledge and become capable of effectively applying theoretical and practical knowledge, skills, and abilities. A demonstration of knowledge of how to perform various functions and tasks, rather than a demonstration of ability to perform them, is the basis for basic competency determinations.

The principal exceptions with respect to determining minimum competency are contained in a resolution adopted by the 1978 International Conference on Training and Certification of Seafarers. This resolution encourages its members to require radar simulation training and training in the use of collision-avoidance aids (IMO, 1993). Experience and knowledge requirements are categorized by vessel tonnage and mariner category—master, chief mate, and officers in charge of a navigational watch. There are also mandatory minimum requirements intended to ensure the continued proficiency and updating of the knowledge of masters and all deck officers (IMO, 1993; Muirhead, 1994).

Applicability of Standards to Seagoing Ships

Tonnage categories that apply to certification and experience requirements for seagoing for seagoing ships are:

  • ships under 200 gross register tons,
  • ships between 200 and 1,600 gross register tons, and
  • ships over 1,600 gross register tons.

Marine licenses issued for operation of vessels over 1,600 gross register tons are referred to as ''unlimited". For seagoing ships that are under 200 gross register tons and not engaged in near-coastal voyage, there are slightly higher requirements than for ships engaged in near-coastal voyage.

The tonnage categories that apply to knowledge requirements for seagoing ships are ships of less than 200 gross register tons and tankers and chemical ships with respect to onboard safety and pollution prevention. There are also

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