Maritime Safety concerns and aims at preserving all life and properties at sea. It is an umbrella term for all sorts of vessels and going beyond that, the preservation of natural life itself. Every seafarer has to have knowledge regarding maritime safety training. In this article, let’s explore what Maritime Safety training is all about.

Life at Sea

While sea transport and leisure are still the prime and eco-friendly modes of transport and leisure, respectively, one must not forget how unforgiving the sea can be. Natural disasters added to the man-made ones, and we have a perfect disaster concoction. Maritime Safety awareness and training are in the picture to prevent exactly that.

Various studies have shown that seafarers and marine workers (shore-based or off-shore) are more prone to increased risks of hazards and health issues than common workers.

This makes maritime safety training even more important. For detailed information regarding the same, you should refer to SOLAS, i.e. the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea guidelines.

Maritime Safety Training and STCW

STCW is the most basic and compulsory maritime safety course. STCW stands for Standards of Training, Certifications, and Watchkeeping. Its goal is to equip all seafarers with knowledge regarding all sorts of natural or man-made hazards and other issues that may occur on the sea.

No matter the job description, each sea-going marine worker HAS to have the STCW certification and ENG1 or an equivalent medical certificate to prove that they are well-equipped and fit for the job.

STCW includes the knowledge of

  • International Safety Management Code
  • Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)
  • Life-Saving Appliance Code (LSA)
  • Procedure for Port State Control
  • Fire Test Procedures
  • Cargo Security and Storage Code

You can get these certificates easily in South Africa. Find more information regarding STCW here and ENG1 medical here.

Maritime Safety — Beyond STCW

While seafarers can equip themselves with STCW, they should always aim at improving their knowledge for the better. For example, make yourself aware of the all major potential threats one may face on the sea. They are as followed:

Common Security Issues:
  • Trespassing
  • Terror attacks
  • Illegal maritime trade (fishing)
  • Piracy
  • Human trafficking
  • Environmental pollution
  • Thievery
Potential Security Threats in the Future:
  • Cyberattacks
  • Poor Equipment
  • Global Warming
  • Small Contract Hacking
  • Maritime Cloud Vulnerability
  • Social Engineering attacks

When it comes to man-made security threats such as piracy, thievery etc, cargo ships usually have the red target painted on the back. This makes it necessary for seafarers working on such cargo ships to have knowledge of safety and watchkeeping.

This brings us to our next point.

Ships and On-Board Training

Each ship operates differently and has its own rules and regulations. Furthermore, it also has its own safety rules and regulations. While they may slightly differ, they are generally the same for all ships of the same kind. Here, the word ‘same kind’ refers to ship types, i.e. cargo ships, passenger ships and so on.

So yes, each ship will train its crew regarding its own safety codes on the sea. Make sure you understand it well. General on-board training may include:

  • Training the crew for emergency situations
  • Reporting and responding to security incidents onboard
  • Regular vessel inspection and recommendations for modification and repair
  • Monitoring and overseeing security equipment and procedures
  • Managing the coordination and movement of cargo

As a crew member, it is your responsibility to be prepared and keep yourself safe.

And how can you do that? By educating yourself, of course. There’s nothing much more important than taking an initiative all by yourself and acting on it.

As a seafarer, bear these safety tips in mind.

  • Encourage situational awareness, and staying alert to the ship environment.
  • Ensure good visibility and be attentive when moving cargo or when lifting equipment (if you are working on a cargo ship or in a shipyard).
  • Report any mechanical malfunctions, electrical breakdowns, spills, or other abnormal incidents.
  • Always follow safety procedures. Wear recommended safety equipment, including helmets, shoes, goggles, etc.
  • Always ready yourself for work.
  • Report any illness. Do not work while injured, tired, or nauseous.
  • Learn maritime safety information from relevant training sessions.

Maritime Safety applies to individual skippers around the shore as well!

That’s right, if you are an individual skipper just surfing around South African shores, you are automatically responsible for your own life, the human life and properties surrounding you, and the natural life.

As a skipper, you should be well-prepared for any sort of emergency too. Make sure you have the following items on your boat before departure.

  • Lifejackets, flotation devices, fire extinguishers, and visual and audible signalling devices.
  • Flashlights and Batteries
  • First Aid kit
  • Medication for motion sickness
  • Anchor with a line
  • bucket for bailing water
  • VHF marine radio
  • Snorkelling mask
  • Paddles
  • Knife

In addition to this, we recommend you understand how to operate a radio and how to send a distress call. We have covered an extensive article regarding operating radios here: The VHF Radio Course in South Africa


Maritime safety training is an umbrella term for all sorts of safety training a seafarer goes through. The maritime safety codes are compiled by SOLAS and we advise you to read them thoroughly. It is our responsibility as an individual to contribute positively to maritime safety by abiding by laws, spotting inconsistencies and reporting them, and acting appropriately if an emergency arises.

As a maritime worker, STCW is mandatory and easily available in South Africa. If you are looking for an STCW Course in South Africa, please connect with us anytime!