01 If you notice, Fiji Maritime Academy is buzzing with activity these days, it is the masses of Fijian Seafarers updating their qualifications.

 The race for the 31st of December deadline is on. All Certificates of Competency (COC), issued before 2010 need to be in line with STCW 2010 Manila Amendments.

 Since the course began on the 26th of October, over 300 seafarers have completed this mandatory courses required by Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF) to endorse the COC’s to comply with 2010 Manila Amendments.

Courses are conducted at Laucala Bay and Nadi.

The courses are commonly known as bridging but the course names recognized by the (MSAF) are, Updating courses Deck officers and Updating Courses for Engine Engineers (management and operational level).

 Updating courses are being conducted with the assistance of Master Mariner Captain Aruna 02Kotalawela and Chief Engineer Ranjith Gunawardena. Both lecturers from the Colombo International Nautical and Engineering Collage (CINEC) come with excellent accolades and experience. The two lecturers are also updating their local counter parts who will take over the teaching duties when the CINEC lecturers complete their tour of duty at FMA.

Due to major changes to the STCW Manila Amendments 2010, there are a few twists to this tale of Certificate updating system. There are additional components to enhance seafarer’s competencies.

Use of the state of the art Marine Bridge and Engine Simulator for courses such as the following are now a part of the updating courses:

  • Engine Room Resource Management (ERM)
  • Bridge Resource Management (BRM)

In addition, competencies in the following are now compulsory for future seafarers holding high level certificates:

  • Marine Bridge and Engine Simulator Programs
  • Electronic Chart Display & Information Systems (ECDIS) and
  • Global Maritime Distress & Safety Systems (GMDSS)

Fijian Seafarers, who do not have a valid safety certificate as per MSAF requirements, need to attend a three day refresher course comprising of:

  • Personal Survival Techniques
  • Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting
  • Elementary First Aid
  • Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities.

If the Advance courses certificates need to be updated, then seafarers need to attend the refresher courses for Advance certificates conducted individually (6 hours per course)

  • Proficiency in Advanced Fire Fighting
  • Proficiency in Survival Craft other than Fast Rescue Boats
  • Proficiency in Medical First Aid

The final chapter in the updating system is for Fijian seafarers who have not sailed 12 months in the last five years, in addition to the updating course, they will have to complete a Refresher course to fulfill the additional requirements of MSAF.

Fiji Maritime Academy being busy in the next few months is an understatement. Along with the updating courses, the Academy still has to cater for its core business of training cadets and conducting classes for students continuing with their Maritime studies.

With limited staffing resources and inadequate infrastructure, FMA is doing its vested duty as the lone premier maritime academic institution in Fiji providing quality education and training for the seafarers of the nation.

Mahesa Abeynayake
Fiji Maritime Academy