The H. Lavity Stoutt Community College has received “provisional approval” to schedule Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers courses at its Paraquita Bay campus, the school announced Monday.

“These basic STCW courses underpin the requirements for those seeking to obtain the Caribbean Boat Master’s licence to operate small commercial vessels,” said Martin Cherry, coordinator of HLSCC’s Maritime Programme.

Mandated by the International Maritime Organisation, the STCW course offers a global safety training standard, and the certification is required for all mariners working on commercial ships, yachts, ferries and cruise ships, according to HLSCC.

The basic STCW course, which is designed to help crewmembers handle on-board emergencies, includes training in first aid, safety, survival techniques and firefighting, among other topics.

The college was unable to deliver the course following Hurricane Irma, which destroyed its firefighting simulator, according to an HLSCC press release.

Following the installation of a replacement simulator in mid-2019, a course audit with surveyors from the United Kingdom’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency was scheduled for early 2020 on site at Paraquita Bay, the college stated.

However, those plans were cancelled because of the pandemic.

In late 2020, however, faculty and staff from the college’s Marine and Maritime Studies Department worked with the MCA and the college’s information technology department to facilitate the MCA’s first ever STCW virtual audit, according to HLSCC.

During the week of Dec. 8, a team from the department liaised virtually with surveyors from MCA, while Mr. Cherry and fire officer Joseph George displayed physical components necessary for the STCW’s “fire prevention and firefighting” section, the college explained.

Susan Zaluski, head of marine and maritime studies at the college, said the training is an important offering.

“STCW is an integral part of marine studies, including the recently launched Marine Professional Training Programme, which was designed to support youth development in the BVI,” she explained.

Workforce training

HLSCC Dean of Workforce Training Marva Wheatley-Dawson said that an STCW certificate, which is renewable after five years, certifies the holder to sail on any size and type of commercial boat or ship anywhere in the world.

“This certification supports the broader goals of the Workforce Training Division, to ensure that HLSCC training equips students to become competitive and better prepare them for work placement and changing careers,” she said. “Through the [Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States’] Eastern Caribbean Institute of Tourism, HLSCC’s Centre for Applied Marine Studies is designated to become a ‘maritime centre of excellence.’”