Citizens are sometimes left wondering how they can comply with the letter of the law. According to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), in order to receive certification, seafarers must be able to demonstrate that they possess critical safety skills that would be required in shipboard emergencies, such as firefighting and lifeboat launching.

As an example of such an emergency, Captain Anthony Patterson, President and CEO of Virtual Marine Technology (VMT) of St. John’s, Newfoundland, cites the MSC Napoli—a container ship that had to be evacuated in the English Channel in 2007 due to hull damage.

“The convention is clear,” he says. “You have to demonstrate your competence to do this job using real equipment. This is an impossibility, the way it’s normally done, because the risk of injury is too great to train using real equipment.”

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