The STCW Convention has helped establish an international code for marine workers to work in a safe environment. The convention carries five distinct forms of training, which include Personal Survival Techniques or PST. Let’s see what the Personal Survival Techniques course is all about in South Africa.

What is STCW? A Brief Overview.

STCW stands for Standards for Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping. The STCW convention was introduced in 1978 to establish international standards of safety, security, and marine practice. They went through a major overhaul in 1995 (7 July 1995) and 2010 (25 June 2010).

STCW is mandatory for all seafarers and marine workers who work or want to work on commercial ships or superyachts. 

Since the STCW 2010 convention came into effect, all seafarers are required to do the STCW refresher every five years. This is to keep the seafarers updated with newly introduced laws and rules in the convention; to equip them with the latest knowledge.

There are a variety of different forms of training curated for different positions in the marine industry. But, we will stick to section VI for this brief introduction, which includes the basic mandatory STCW training. 

  • Fire Fighting and Fire Prevention
  • Personal Safety & Social Responsibilities
  • Proficiency in Designation Security Duties
  • Elementary First-Aid Course
  • Sea Survival – Personal Survival Techniques

We have covered more about STCW here. STCW Certificate in South Africa | Do I need one?

Personal Survival Techniques (PST) in South Africa

Personal Survival Techniques are one of the most mandatory modules in the STCW course in accordance with the STCW Code section A-VI/1. This course will equip you with the essential knowledge to deal with marine-related hazards (including coping with piracy), personal safety, and the safety of others in accordance with international regulations.

With this course, you will be able to understand how to equip yourself for different emergency situations. For example, if there’s an abandon ship call across your vessel, you should be able to don a life jacket, understand what essentials to carry, and help others whenever necessary.

The whole objective of this course is to teach all seafarers how to keep calm and think methodically. Not only this will help prevent chaos, but also the loss of lives.

What do you learn in the PST Course?

This course covers the theoretical and practical aspects of sea safety. As a first-timer, this course will usually last for two days. But as a refresher, you will be able to finish this course within a day. According to the latest 2010 STCW Conventions, you have to take a refresher every 5 years to renew your certificate.

So, what will you learn in this course?

In Theory:
  • Main types of maritime emergencies.
  • Principles of survival during an emergency.
  • Introduction to life-saving equipment on ships.
  • Survival craft and its proper use.
  • Equipment to stow in a survival craft.
  • Using the marine radio and understanding distress signals
In Practical:
  • How to wear a life jacket.
  • How to safely dive and swim in the water whilst wearing a life jacket.
  • Dealing with an inverted lifeboat.
  • Boarding a raft from the water.
  • Man overboard procedures.
  • Operating the survival craft equipment for your safety.

Requirements to enrol in this course

A candidate must be 16 or above to enter the course and earn the certificate. Also, given that this is a practical course requiring some physical fitness, you have to be physically fit at least on a basic level. This means you will require an ENG1 or equivalent medical certificate of fitness to enter the course. You can easily obtain an ENG1 medical certificate in South Africa.

After the course, there will also be a small exam. After you pass the exam, you will receive your PST certificate. In case of renewal, it will be renewed upon completion of the course.


The Personal Survival Techniques course prepares a seafarer against the potential dangers of the sea. This is one of the five most basic courses of an STCW package. If you are someone who’s planning to work on a commercial vessel, STCW 2010 is one of the primary requirements.

For more information regarding Personal Survival Techniques or the STCW course overall in South Africa, please feel free to reach out to our professional team anytime and we will do our best to help you out!