UK Certificates of Competency (CoC) for 500 serving officers have been put at stake by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) following to the findings of lack in the services by a MCA-approved STCW short course provider based in India.

The MCA issued a draft of 500 officers afflicted in Mariner Information Note (MIN) 591. The individuals afflicted are Officers of the Watch and above, counting deck and engine officers. The Agency will now evaluate the competency of individuals who have finished safety-critical short courses contrary to the criteria set out in the STCW Convention and Code on a case by case basis.

The finding of failures by an MCA-approved training provider comes at a troubling time when the whole certification system may have to endure EMSA audits as a ‘third country’ labor supplier, said Mark Dickinson General secretary Nautilus International. ‘Nautilus has campaigned strongly on the dangers posed by the casual issue of certificates of equivalent competency by the MCA,’ he said. ‘This disclosure serves to reinforce the validity of our concerns about the problems that can arise from the UK’s approach to certification.’

The director of MCA of maritime safety & standards, Katy Ware said that as a flag state, the MCA endures its role very critically. This may cause apprehensions in some people, so we are approaching more and more people.

Afflicted officers will receive an email and a drafted letter from MCA within the next five working days and asking them to reappear to the tests. Officers will have up to 12 months to finish the online assessment process provided by Cranfield University. The structure uses advanced facial identification and a number of security features to approve seafarers.

Officers are supported to commence the training while on shore leave. Assessment cannot be done during active watchkeeping duties or during controlled rest periods. It will cost-free for seafarers to take up the online assessment. Seafarers that pass the assessment will be issued with a new document to affirm the validity of their CoC.

It is unclear what will occur to the seafarers who do not clear the assessment with concerns over promising inferior training on safety critical skills. The MCA has accepted that officers will be granted to serve onboard until they can reappear the tests. Nautilus understands that the MCA found out the failures following an internal audit of training providers, however, it wouldn’t confirm that for how far the issue had been known.

In 2018 some 14,245 non-UK nationals held valid CoCs issued in the UK, with the most (72%) of these being from India, as per the Department for Transport data.


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