IMO Member States risk white list status

7 May 2019

The International Maritime Organization’s STCW white list of top-rated flag states would be decimated if requirements to report information were strictly enforced, according to a paper submitted to the Human Element Training and Watchkeeping Sub-Committee (HTW).

Nearly two-thirds (58%) of flag states on the current list would be wiped off if they were forced to comply with reporting standards, HTW found.

Panama, the world’s largest flag state by deadweight tonnes, would be struck off the white list, as would The Bahamas – the world’s seventh largest flag state.

Between them, Panama and The Bahamas had nearly 10,000 vessels over 500dwt registered in 2018, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence data. 

Other high-profile flags that would fall foul of reporting rules include the UK, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the Philippines.

The white list was created by the IMO to identify which Member States are fully compliant with the STCW-95 Convention and Code. 

Criteria for compliance includes having appropriate seafarer licensing systems, oversight of training centres, and strong processes for certificate revalidation, flag state control, and port state control.

Once approved to the white list, flag states are required to provide IMO Maritime Safety Committee with additional data to demonstrate they are fully in compliance, which is reviewed by a panel of Competent Persons.

To date, the additional reporting requirement has not been effectively implemented and has never been enforced by IMO.

STCW-95 non-compliant Member States are often described as being on a ‘black list’. 

Ships flagged by a black-listed country can be denied entry to a port, inspected intensely, or detained when attempting to enter a port.

Seafarers with a Certificate of Competency (CoC) from a black-listed nation could be denied a Certificate of Equivalency (CoE) and rejected for work aboard white list-flagged ships. 

Seafarer’s training and sea time aboard black listed vessels flagged could be rejected for a CoC from a white list country.

MSC has published a second hypothetical white list of Member States, which showed only 54 (41.5%) of 130 would remain should reporting requirements be enforced.

MSC undertook to review the STCW white list reporting process following complaints from Member States over delays in assessment by Competent Persons.