Proficiency in Designated Security Duties (PSDS) Certificate: A Mandatory Requirement for Seafarers

The STCW convention and codes as amended by the Manila Amendements (2010) has certain mandatory requirements regarding security training of seafarers. These regulations which came into force on 1st January 2010, requires all ship board personnel to carry out ship security training.

If you are still an active seafarer, you might have received a notice like the one below from your shipping company.

Certificate of Proficiency in Security Training for Seafarers with Designated Security Duties

So what does this means?

According to the The STCW Convention and Code as amended by the STCW Manila Amendment 2010, all seafarers on board ships t0 which the ISPS code applies must carry the PDSD certificate. In addition to the Ship Security Officer (SSO) training, which is mandatory for ship personnel responsible for ship security, new security trainings have been made compulsory for all personnel employed or engaged on board ships.

Why Now?

One of the main aims of the the Manila Amendment (2010) was to take measures to fight the increasing piracy and violence against seafarers around the world. The safety of the ship, crew and cargo safety is the matter of utmost importance has also been mentioned in the Maritime Labour Convention (2006) that comes into force on August 20th, 2013. Though the number of attacks from pirates along the coast of Somali is declining, there has been a considerable increase in the number of piracy incidences along the coast of Western Africa. The importance of ship security training for all crew members has thus become extremely important.

Several steps have been taken in the past to combat Somali based piracy, however, it has been observed that the ship protection measures are not implemented correctly due to improper training or lack of understanding. The ship’s master and the ship security officer (SSO) are fully responsible to ensure that the Best Management Practices are implemented in order to ensure the ship’s crew is fully briefed and trained before the ship enters a high risk area (HRA). Several piracy incidents have been prevented in the past by preparing and training the ship’s crew to deal with such emergency. But still, several seafarers have been injured, killed, taken hostages, or undergone torture from pirates because of lack of proper understanding of ship protection measures. In order to fill these gaps, new mandatory training regulations have been implemented to ensure that all shipboard personnel are properly educated to improve the overall security of the ships.

security course
Maritime Security Course Image Credits: Source: GL Academy Hellas

The Proficiency in Designed Security Duties Training

In addition to the existing Ship Security Officer (SSO) training (which is unchanged), amendements to the STCW convention brings in three new levels of security training:

  • Security Related Familiarization
  • Proficiency in security awareness
  • Proficiency in designated security duties

Security Related Familiarization 

Prior to assigning duties to shipboard personnel, it is the duty of the ship security officer (SSO) or any equivalently qualified person to provide security related familiarization training to them. The security familiarization should ensure that the seafarers are able to

  • Report a security incident, including a piracy or armed robbery threat or attack
  • Know the procedures to follow when they recognize a security threat
  • Take part in security related emergency and contingency procedure

Proficiency in Security Awareness (PSA)

It is now mandatory for all seafarers engaged or employed in any capacity of ships under ISPS code to take security awareness training to acquire the STCW certificate of proficiency in security awareness. On completion of this training, a seafarer will be able to

  • Contribute to the enhancement of maritime security through heightened awareness
  • Recognize security threats
  • Understand the needs for, and methods for maintaining security awareness and vigilance

Proficiency in Designated Security Duties (PDSD)

Training in designated must be undertanken by seafarers engaged on ships which are required to comply with the provisions of the ISPS code, which have designated duties under the ship security plan. On acquiring an STCW certificate of proficiency in designated security duties, a seafarer will be able to:

  • Maintain the conditions set out in the ship security plan
  • Recognize security risk and threats
  • Undertake regular security inspection
  • Properly use security equipment and systems

How Do I Get a Proficiency in Designated Security Duties (PDSD) Certificate?

If you are already sailing as a seafarer, it is likely that your company will have intimidated you regarding the course. If not, then you need to contact your company to inquire about the institutes providing PDSD certification. The PDSD is usually a 1.5 days course which is offered by maritime training institues recognized by the shipping authority of respective countries.

Have you already got yourself  Proficiency in Designated Security Duties (PDSD) certified?

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About Author

Raunek Kantharia is a marine engineer turned maritime writer and entrepreneur. After a brief stint at the sea, he founded Marine Insight in 2010. Apart from managing Marine Insight, he also writes for a number of maritime magazines and websites.

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  1. We have a lot of deck officers who had undergone Ship Security Officer’s Training (SSO). So I would need clarifications to the following query; Does the seafarer who already obtained certification for SSO complying to STCW Sec VI/5 still requires PSA and PDSD if they are not appointed onboard as SSO?

  2. International Maritime Security Network provides this training approved by DNV-GL and USCG. IMSN also has many endorsements by many different Governing Flags; Marshall Islands, Belize, Liberia, etc. If you or your company is in need of this security training be it VSO/CSO, Proficiency in Designated Duties, or the Awareness, please visit our website at

    My contact information is listed on the site.

    Thank you!

  3. Please is this certificate an equivalent of international ship and port security facility isps

  4. Does this “Proficiency in Designated Security Duties” done by any of the lady personnel?

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