IMO Developing Mariner Training In Decarbonization Technologies

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) and Lloyd’s Register Foundation are developing a program framework to be used by maritime educators all over the world to train mariners in skills working with decarbonization technology. The project was announced at the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (COP 28), meeting in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which is taking place from November 30 through December 12.

The training of seafarers aligns with the revision of the sector’s decarbonization targets and adoption of the 2023 IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships, which aims to ensure a 5 to 10 percent uptake of zero or near-zero GHG emission technologies, fuels and/or energy sources by international shipping by 2030. In its 2023 IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships, adopted in July, the IMO committed itself to making global [blue-water] shipping net-zero by 2050.

The decarb training project will be run by IMO and the Maritime Just Transition Task Force Secretariat. Lloyd’s Register will develop the training framework for seafarers and officers. The training package will be available to IMO member states for use by maritime education and training institutes to develop their programs. A “train the trainer” program will also be developed to assist the institutes further.

“Moving toward a low-emission future will require new green jobs and reskilling, and the global maritime industry is no different,” said Ruth Boumphrey, CEO of Lloyd’s Register Foundation. “Future alternative fuel technologies, such as hydrogen, ammonia and methanol, mean there is a vital need to up-skill all seafarers.”

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However, training materials won’t be available until mid-2025 at the earliest and will be introduced in Asia first.

The World Maritime University (WMU), an IMO global research, education and training institute based in Malmö, Sweden, will provide academic expertise. A global industry peer learning group will provide knowledge-sharing. Once developed, the Baseline Training Framework for Seafarers in Decarbonization will be tested out in Asia through a program led by WMU, with support from the IMO Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre (MTCC) Asia and other partners. Training materials will be developed for all seafarers and for officers. The aim is to then expand testing of the package globally with all the established MTCCs and other appropriate organizations.

“Seafarers are at the heart of the just transition needed in the shipping industry, and training the current and future workforce is crucial to ensure that workers’ expertise is front and center as the industry transitions and decarbonizes,” said Stephen Cotton, general secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation. “We have heard the message loud and clear from seafarers around the world Tthey are ready to lead. They are ready to shape the training frameworks for the zero-carbon fuels of the future.”

The need for dedicated training has been identified by IMO and social partners. IMO is comprehensively reviewing and revising its key treaty for seafarer training, the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), with input from industry and seafarers’ unions. According to research commissioned by the Maritime Just Transition Task Force, 800,000 seafarers may require additional training by the mid-2030s in order to operate vessels run on zero- or near-zero-emission fuels.

“2030 is just around the corner, and we cannot be complacent about the needs of our seafarers and the appropriate training being in place to support them during our transitioning sector,” said Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping. “Without our people, we have no industry, so seafarers should always be at the forefront of every decision. As we move forward into Phase II of the Maritime Just Transition program, we must now all continue to work together and further build on the strong relationships formed in Phase I to ensure that our seafarers have the training they need.”