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Shipowners’ Club: Yacht manning levels – FAQs

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The Club is often approached by yacht owners and operators for advice on manning levels. This article answers some of the most frequently asked questions to assist Members with their specific operations.

How are minimum safe manning levels established?

Assessment criteria will vary between Flag States and the Club recommends that the applicable Flag State should be consulted for their particular requirements. Assessments may consist of, but are not limited to:

  • Operational elements of the vessel, duties, workload and responsibilities of personnel on board.
  • Consideration of how many personnel are required to safely operate the vessel with due regard for the safety of life at sea, protection of the environment and property and including emergency scenarios.
  • The required competence and qualifications of personnel.
  • Trading limitations, the maximum period of continuous watchkeeping, length and nature of voyages and frequency of port calls.
  • Consideration of the Flag State’s basic manning requirements.
  • Vessel size and design, facilities and internal communication systems.
  • The amount of machinery/equipment on board and any unmanned machinery space (UMS) systems fitted.
  • Consideration of any applicable conventions such as the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) or STCW 95 and codes such as International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code.

A new assessment should be carried out where there are changes to trading area, operations, construction or machinery/equipment which may affect the minimum safe manning level.

What should the manning levels be for a commercially operating yacht?

The Flag State should be contacted to arrange for an assessment of the minimum safe manning levels for commercially operating vessels, including yachts. Each Flag State will have specific criteria to assess when establishing the appropriate safe manning levels and may require the Owner to submit an assessment of the minimum safe manning level.

How should the manning levels of a private yacht be assessed?

The applicable Flag State may require minimum safe manning assessments/documents on privately registered vessels but put the onus on Owners to carry out their own assessments. Assessments made by Owners should be in line with the manning assessment practices of the applicable Flag State. For further guidance, the Club recommends that Members contact the applicable Flag State.

As an owner, how do I promote competence and good seamanship of crew and prevent incidents?

The Club knows that Members are committed to operating safe ships with capable crew. For owners of smaller/private vessels, good seamanship and practices on board can be developed with the incorporation of a Competence Assurance Scheme (CAS). These schemes, which incorporate skill and knowledge development through the means of tasks and goals for crew, promote good practices on board and can be used as a tool to measure progress of personnel and identify training requirements, supporting the implementation of a Safety Management Systems (SMS).

Although implementation of an SMS may not be mandatory for all owners, the provision and use of standardised company procedures and policies which offer guidance to crew for on board operations, contributes greatly to the reduction of accidents and incidents.

What guidance can be provided to crew to encourage good physical and mental health on board?

The Club has been working with International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) collaborating on a campaign to raise awareness and provide guidance to seafarers on their health and wellbeing whilst on board vessels. All publications can be viewed and downloaded from the Club website and further information can be sourced from the ISWAN website.

What other guidance does the Club provide for Yacht Owners?

The Club has produced a number of publications which cover a wide range of maritime topics. Our Learning from Passenger Vessel Incidents booklet, Yacht Safety poster, Passenger Safety poster and Caution is required in reduced visibility case study may be of particular use to Members operating yachts. All publications are freely available to view and download from the Club’s website.

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