Yacht Crew Certification: Implications for Marine Insurance Claims

Yacht Crew Certification

How does the certification of maritime crew influence marine insurance and the multifaceted processes of managing maritime claims? Can the right certification for yacht crews significantly diminish the frequency and severity of civil liability claims and other myriad forms of maritime claims, thereby fostering a more secure and regulated maritime environment?

The yacht crew, consisting of both seasoned seafarers and meticulous domestic staff such as stewards, holds the critical responsibility of guaranteeing not only the comfort but also the safety of passengers on board. This assortium of professionals serves as the backbone for carrying out seamless operations and unparalleled service while emphasizing the pivotal concept of "Safe Manning" to uphold safety and efficiency at sea.

1. The importance of yacht crew certification

There should be no doubt that the yacht crew’s responsibility is vast, ranging from ensuring passenger safety to maintaining operational efficiency. The crew, through a blend of experienced seafarers and domestic staff, is the guarantor of comfort and safety at sea.

In this post, we will review the international standards and regulations governing maritime crew certification, focusing on specific training and competence requirements to obtain a yacht crew certification.

2. The Minimum Safe Manning Certificate (MSMC)

The MSMC is a document issued by a country’s Maritime Authority for a specific vessel, ensuring yachts are safely manned according to international regulations. It is crucial to note: this is a minimum requirement.

This certificate dictates the minimum number of crew members required on board to ensure the safe operation of the vessel, considering various factors such as the type, size, purpose, and equipment of the vessel, encompassing navigation, crew safety, and environmental protection.

For instance, a recreational yacht measuring 75 feet may be required to have a Minimum Safe Manning of three crew members, including one captain and two deckhands, to operate safely and efficiently, taking into account some of the aforementioned factors, in contrast to a 150-feet commercial yacht, which may necessitate a larger crew with specialized roles.

3. Certification and licensing requirements in yacht crew certification

The diverse responsibilities aboard a yacht demand specialized training and skills development. For owners and operators, especially those with limited resources, orchestrating comprehensive training programs and skill enhancement opportunities is daunting yet imperative. Herein, the uniqueness of each yacht’s operational needs is addressed, focusing on a multitude of aspects, from catering to navigation. All masters, officers, and crew members are required to possess proof:

Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW)

The STCW is a comprehensive set of international regulations intended to ensure that the highest standards of seafarer competence are maintained globally. It outlines the minimum qualifications, training, and certifications that seafarers need to work on a ship, focusing on promoting maritime safety and environmental protection.

Basic Safety Training (BST)

Basic Safety Training is a standard preliminary safety course for all seafarers, as mandated by the STCW. It covers fundamental safety aspects, including personal survival techniques, fire prevention and fire fighting, elementary first aid, and personal safety and social responsibilities, preparing the seafarers to handle emergency situations effectively.

Seafarer’s Identification and Record Book (SIRB)

The SIRB serves as an official, internationally recognized document that provides a record of a seafarer’s employment on board ships. It acts as an identification document containing vital information about the seafarer and their career history, ensuring their identity and service history are readily available during inspections.

Certificate of Competency (CoC)

All masters and officers listed on the MSMC are required to possess a valid Certificate of Competency (CoC).

A Certificate of Competency is a form of license provided to seafarers, proving that they have met the specific requirements and qualifications needed for a particular rank or function on a ship. It verifies the holder’s skills, experience, and understanding of their duties and responsibilities, ensuring they are competent to perform their role on board safely and effectively.

Navigating the various regulations and ensuring compliance can be challenging, especially for multinational yacht operations.

4. The prevalence of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC)

The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) often serves as the criterion standard in the realm of maritime employment rights.

It stipulates that yacht owners should implement proper protections for their crew.

This involves issuing proper employment contracts with clear provisions about salary, sick pay, and repatriation rights in case of accident or dismissal.

Compliance with the MLC isn’t mandatory for all vessels. It’s only ratified in certain countries and is enforceable only for commercial boats.

5. Insight into Marine Claims

Crew negligence vs Crew incompetence

Understanding the difference between negligence and incompetence is essential for proper claims management.

Crew negligence

  • Briefly: a failure to take reasonable care by the crew.
  • A loss caused due to crew negligence is (mostly) covered by yachts insurance policies.

Crew incompetence

  • It is a failure on the part of the owner
  • It is directly related to the concept of unseaworthiness.
  • The unseaworthiness of the yacht could result in a rejection of the claim.

Rental boats: A rising problem

Yacht Charter Without Captain and /or License is on the rise in tourist destinations such as The Balearic Islands:

  • Accidents and injuries: Leading to injuries to passengers or third parties
  • Damage to the Yacht and collisions with others
  • Weather-related Issues
  • Environmental concerns

6. Key Takeaways

Be curious and look out for:

  • Minimum Safe Manning Certificate (MSMC).
  • The training of the crew and if they hold specific certifications like STCW, BST, and SIRB for safe operations.
  • Welfare and health of the crew in connection with the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) or equivalents.
  • The crew is the most important asset of a Vessel. 
The content shared in this blog post was initially presented at the IUMI 2023 conference in Edinburgh by Jorge Diaz

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