Skip to main content
Education and training

David Appleton: professional and technical updates for members

3 May 2024

As we discussed at the Nautilus Professional and Technical Forum in April, there have been many recent developments in maritime safety, training and anti-pollution measures. Here is a round-up of the main issues, with advice on how to get hold of new guidance documents.

New training at sea guidelines

Nautilus has contributed to three new guidance documents published by the UK Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB). The guidance is about what to expect from training at sea, and there are three different versions: one for cadets, one for companies, and one for designated shipboard training officers.

The advice is part of an industry-wide effort to improve cadets' sea training experience after many Nautilus members reported problems. All three documents are available for free download at

Nautilus is also working through various channels to strengthen the enforcement of UK tonnage tax rules on cadet training.

Revamped health and safety handbook

The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has released an updated version of the Code of Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seafarers, heralding it as 'more accessible and easy to use' than ever before.

Following industry and stakeholder feedback, the document's language, design, and structure have been revised to ensure simplicity and clarity. One notable change is the transition from loose-leaf to bound format. The Code is available to buy at

Warlike operations area update

As previously reported, Nautilus is still calling for all merchant shipping to be re-routed away from the Red Sea until attacks by Yemen's Houthi rebels cease.
However, while transits continue, members are reminded that they have rights under warlike operations area agreements struck in the UK and Netherlands, and by the International Bargaining Forum. These rights may include being allowed to disembark rather than crossing the Red Sea, or being offered extra pay. The agreements have recently been strengthened, and now themselves call for vessels to be re-routed.

Following the Iranian drone attacks on Israel on 13 April, members contacted Nautilus to ask advice on the safety of visiting Israeli ports. At the time of writing, these ports and the seas around them had not been designated warlike operations areas, but members are asked to keep Nautilus informed of any problems encountered in the region so that these can be considered by the authorities.

MEPC developments

Nautilus was involved in the latest meeting of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee, which saw a draft strategy agreed which includes a possible fuel pricing mechanism to encourage vessels to use new, greener fuels. In addition, stricter sulphur limits were set for the Arctic.

MCA exam complaints

Following some issues reported with the MCA’s online exam booking system, it has now been decided to revert to manual bookings until a bespoke booking system is available. Any members experiencing difficulties with exam bookings are encouraged to contact the P&T department for assistance.

Another issue raised by members in recent times was inconsistency in the SQA written exams. The deck exams were thoroughly reviewed to remove any ambiguous or unclear questions last year. Following reports of similar issues being experienced with engineering exams, a similar process is now being undertaken for the engineering syllabus.

  • Contact with any questions about the matters covered here
  • Read our special report on how Nautilus is working to establish suitable training for seafarers using new fuels


Become a Nautilus member today