MGN 566 - Change of alcohol limits for seafarers

Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 11:26

This guidance note alerts ship owners, ship managers and ship masters that the STCW Convention has been amended. Most of the amendments affect training and certification requirements, and have been dealt with elsewhere. This notice primarily explains the changes as they relate to hours of rest and alcohol limits for seafarers.

Key points for ports:

  • Alcohol limits are set lower than the current road Drink Driving limits in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the same as Drink Driving limits in Scotland.
  • Alcohol limits apply to all professional seafarers including marine pilots and fishing vessel crews.
  • Duty holders are advised to review existing drug and alcohol policies, procedures and service provision to ensure on going compliance.

Some of the details…

Any level of alcohol consumption by crew members on board a ship has implications for the safety of the vessel, the crew and any passengers. Even small quantities of alcohol have been shown to sufficiently impair judgement and increase the risk of accidents.

It is an offence for a professional seafarer to be impaired by drink (or drugs) whilst on duty on board a ship or at any time on board a vessel if they might be required to undertake emergency duties to protect the safety of passengers.

Among the Manila amendments were provisions introducing mandatory alcohol limits within STCW Regulation VIII/1 (Fitness for Duty) of 0.05% for blood and 0.25 mg/l for breath. The UK amended its existing alcohol limits, contained within the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, to bring them into line with the Manila amendments through the Merchant Shipping (Alcohol) (Prescribed Limits Amendment) Regulations 2015.These apply to professional mariners on all UK-flagged ships and to any ship operating in UK waters.

MGN 566 (M+F) STCW Manila Amendments: Medical Certification, Hours of Work and Alcohol Limits