The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) is an evolving set of standards that affects nearly every aspect of a mariner’s life at sea.

First enacted in 1978 by the International Maritime Organization, the world’s governing body for shipping, the convention was designed to standardize how the countries did business on the high seas. It aimed to ensure that every ship and crew at sea was following the same set of rules and procedures, no matter where they were from. The STCW Code applies to all ships who enter the ports of any party country (a country that signed on to the convention), even if ship is from a non-party country. Over 98% of the world’s tonnage shipped follows STCW.

The STCW sets the training requirements, the amount of sea time needed to advance a credential, and even the amount of rest period required between a mariner’s watch. Most countries, including the United States, require their mariners to be STCW compliant before they can get a job on ship. This means they have to fulfill certain requirements including classroom education and certification, meet minimum sea time requirements for their respective ratings, and submit to drug and alcohol screening.

As the times change, the requirements of STCW must change as well. A major revision of STCW was adopted in 1995 and another in 2010. The STCW ’95 Amendments and the 2010 Manila Amendments were aimed at modernizing the standards and to acknowledge changing threats and challenges to maritime shipping. These revisions required mariners to take Basic Safety Training and security training courses, set new methods to prevent drug and alcohol abuse, and allowed for new forms of training, including distance and online learning. With all of these changes coming into effect, mariners are spending more time in the classroom. In some instances a certification may require weeks of learning and in others, it may only need a few hours.

What Northeast Maritime Institute (NMI) aims to do through is provide mariners the resources available to receive the required STCW training for the licensing and Certificates of Competency. Northeast Maritime Institute’s mission is to equip graduates with the combination of knowledge, critical thinking, problem solving, ethical decision making, and confidence that will enable them to efficiently operate, maintain, and manage the ships of today and the maritime industry of tomorrow.

Located in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, Northeast Maritime Institute is the largest private, coeducation maritime training education and certification institution in the United States. It offers United States Coast Guard and Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Administration approved training in the class room, hands-on simulator training, and wrap-around Student Services.

NMI’s goal is to provide the same quality education online that it would provide in a class room. NMI offers online, interactive access for mariners who qualify for the Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Administration Certificates of Competency. This will save sailors time and money spent on travel, accommodations, and examinations through taking courses online from either at home or even at sea.