The privately funded schooner S/V Ruth is a newly constructed ultra-modern 100 ft length overall – 100 tonne traditional sail cargo vessel constructed entirely in Barbados by Barbadian and OECS craftsmen. It is intended that S/V Ruth will be fully equipped to provide regular inter-island cargo service between Barbados and the Windward Islands, but initially between Barbados and Dominica as a pilot project for a few months. This service will promote the export of fresh agricultural produce from the Windward Islands and promote the export of high quality Barbadian manufactured goods. S/V Ruth will be launched at a public ceremony at Brownes Beach, Carlisle Bay, Bridgetown on December 06, 2014 and brought into commercial service during February 2015.

State of art solar and wind electrical systems will be utilized to minimize carbon foot print in the operation of the vessel and to power its refrigeration systems. The University of the West Indies Centre for Food Security and Entrepreneurship (CFSE) is partnering with S V Ruth Ltd, the operator of the schooner S/V Ruth, and collaborating with the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic to mount an accredited seaman’s and tall ship training program for Barbados and OECS nationals and others. The proposed training will be in accordance with the International Maritime Organization (IMO)-STCW 2010 Standards Training Certification and Watchkeeping certificated training programme which must be updated every five years. A recent study commissioned by the Caribbean Development Bank on cargo shipping between the Windward Islands, and Barbados and Trinidad revealed that at least 80 percent of the seamen of a total of 24 cargo vessels on this inter-island sector were untrained (In: “Competitive enhancement of the inter-island network of small vessels”, by Sherman Thomas & Associates, Consultant, 157 Lampton Crescent, Markham, Ontario, Canada). Among the officers, less than 10 percent received any kind of certified training. Accordingly, the ships employing these officers are exposed to the risk of detention by Port State Authorities. The study also reported that the cargo ships on this sector are mainly in serious state of disrepair and are in urgent need of refurbishment and modernization. The quality of the seamanship is an important contributor to the undesirable state of the cargo fleet, as the required knowledge to maintain and operate the vessels in good order will be lacking in an environment dominated by untrained crew. Given that the cargo vessels on this inter-island sector are responsible for transporting all of the non-containerized freight between the islands mentioned above, the training of seamen is one of the most important requirements for cargo fleet improvement and modernization.

Accredited training for seafarers is therefore required in order to provide the necessary skills for these cargo ships and to increase and manage the annual number of entrants into the international shipping industry which is currently experiencing a short-fall in excess of 83 900 trained mariners against a demand of over 637 000 (!campaignlaunchSGspeech.doc) There will also be further demand for skilled mariners for the inter-island trade involving SV Ruth Ltd. and the training will specifically cater for this demand. The company plans to introduce at least 8 cargo schooners over a 10-year period to conduct point-to-point service from Barbados to the OECS. Moreover, SV Ruth Ltd. under the coordination of the CFSE is pioneering the replacement of fuel oil-based motorized cargo ships with ultra-modern and efficient sail cargo ships to address the Caribbean region international obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are linked to climate change caused by mankind. The training proposed here will address the needs of the sail cargo ships also.

The use of sail cargo ships to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is emerging as a global trend. In Europe it is being contemplated for trans-Atlantic voyages. In this regard, the pioneering work of S V Ruth Ltd. under the coordination of the CSFE, is part of the leading pack of initiatives for the introduction of sail cargo ships.

The pilot project is to run from February 2015 to December 2015 with continued assessment with respect to commercial and educational/training viability. The maximum number of trainee mariners envisaged is 6 per month and a minimum of 4 per month. Each trainee will apprentice at sea for 21 days and will require 9 days of land-based training to meet the requirements to obtain STCW 2010 basic seaman’s certificate.

S/V Ruth will be trading approximately 200 metric tons of fresh and manufactured goods between Dominica and Barbados monthly during the pilot phase.

Objectives and targets

The objective of the training is to meet the demand for trained mariners for the inter-island shipping sector of the OECS, Barbados and Trinidad. The training is specifically relevant to existing and emerging situations with respect to Caribbean-owned vessels, most of which originate in the Windward Islands. With respect to the current situation, over 80 percent of the seafarers employed in the inter-island shipping sector mentioned above lack formal training for their work.  In addition to responding to the demand for trained mariners to work on this sector, the training will also provide employment opportunities for Barbados and OECS in the global shipping industry including the rapidly growing tall ships segment which currently report a shortfall of trained seafarers. With respect to the emerging situation, the advent of the Caribbean Sail Cargo Initiative targeting inter-island trade between the OECS, Barbados and Trinidad, also creates additional demand for trained seafarers to work on schooners owned and operated by the Barbados-based company S V Ruth Ltd. S V Ruth Ltd. will concentrate on point-to-point inter-island trips and to cater for these with a frequency projected, it is planned that 8 additional cargo sail ships will be introduced over a period of 4 to 10 years from project inception. These ships will be built using existing and refurbished shipyards in Barbados and the OECS. Consideration will be given to converting existing motor vessels to sail cargo ships. In this regard, the proposed seafarers training project is linked to planned significant economic activity associated with ship building in the target countries.

The overall plan is to produce 50 formally trained seafarers over a period of 11 months. It is expected that the training will be offered to 25 trainees each from Barbados and the OECS. As part of the training will be at sea onboard S/V Ruth, the training capacity at sea is for up to 6 trainees per month or a minimum of four over the same period. The certification to be obtained is the IMO approved STCW2010 Basic Seaman’s Certificate. Outlines of the certificated training on land and at sea are provided in Section 5 of this document.

The training component at sea will take place during the pilot phase of the operation of S/V Ruth. One of the main objectives of S V Ruth Ltd. is to address food security concerns by quickly transporting high quality produce from countries of supply to countries of demand in the inter-island shipping sector mentioned. In this regard, in addition to providing a training platform for seafarers who will graduate at the rate of 4 to 6 per month, over an 11 month-period, the success of the initiative will also be assessed by reporting the tonnage of cargo transported by S/V Ruth.

Operational description

The general curriculum of the training programme leading to the award of the IMO-accredited STCW 2010 Basic Seaman’s Certificate is outlined in the table below. The benefits or expectations of the training are also highlighted.

Table 1: Summary of seafarers sail training curriculum and objectives.

Activities/Topics Benefits/Expectations
Pre-departure training-: Vessel orientation and basic safety procedures
  • Trainee has been introduced to the professional crew and understands commands and structure
  • Trainee has been briefed on rules, duties and understands command instructions
  • Trainee has toured vessel, has been briefed on shipboard routine and watch-keeping duties
  • Trainee has been briefed on the location, use and donning of personal survival equipment
  • Trainee can recognize alarm signals, locate muster stations and responds in a knowledge manner to Man overboard, fire and abandon ship drills and practices
  • Trainee can locate and use all emergency escape routes
  • Trainee has been briefed on the opening and closing fire, weather-tight and water-tight doors
  • Trainee has been briefed on and agrees to adhere to marine pollution law and marine pollution prevention practices
  • Trainee has been assigned a safety harness and has been provided information on its use and that of other special gear, footwear and safety equipment
  • Trainee has been qualified for and instructed in safe conduct for laying aloft
Prevention and safe practices
  • Trainee has been briefed and can perform watch duties inclusive of protocols for reporting and for standing down from duty, navigation look-out, fire and gangway/security watch
  • Trainee has been instructed in safe work practices, in recognizing and avoiding hazardous positions, hazardous materials and in the proper use of protective work gear
  • Trainee recognizes emergency situations and demonstrates prompt and correct action in response to man overboard, fire and abandon ship alarms and is able to assist in the launching of emergency rafts/crafts
  • Trainee has been introduced and is familiar with the techniques of hauling, belaying, coiling and safe line handling
  • Trainee can tie and use basic knots including: bowline, reef, figure of eight, clove high, etc.
  • Trainee has been instructed in, and demonstrates an understanding of helmsmanship, helm orders, and procedures for helm relief
  • Trainee has been briefed on and understands COLREGS related to look-out, safe speed and risk of collision
Navigation, social responsibility and survival techniques
  • Trainee is able to identify various types of sail and motor vessels
  • Trainee can explain COLREGS R 13 to 17 related to: overtaking, head-on situation, crossing situation, action by give way vessel and action by stand-on vessel
  • Trainee can plot a simple course, understands the principles of dead reckoning, can identify various aids to navigation, and understand basic weather systems and primary weather indications
  • Trainee has progressed in seamanship skills, including preventative maintenance, advanced knot work, basic splicing and basic repair skills
  • Trainee has received instructions in: safe practices, the causes, symptoms and responses to hypothermia and techniques for survival at sea
  • Trainee has been introduced to the shipboard communication suite and has been introduced to the use of: VHF, EPIRP, SAT PHONE, SSB and SAR
  • Trainee has received training in and understands the importance of practicing effective personal relationships
  • Trainee has successfully completed training in basic first aid and CPR
  • Trainee can identify fire hazards and has learnt to be preventative, to minimize fire risks and to maintain a state of preparedness
  • Trainee understands and can locate alarm systems for fire, heat, fire suppression and smoke detection
Navigation, seamanship and basic fire prevention/fighting
  • Trainee has acquired a working knowledge of: chart plotting, GPS, trip planning, aids to navigation, and notices to mariners
  • Trainee is familiar with and practices the proper use and care of personal protective equipment
  • Trainee has received instruction in safe and appropriate methods of effective rescues
  • Trainee understands the elements of fire tetrahedron, and therefore how fires may spread (conduction, convection, radiation, etc.)
  • Trainee is able to classify fires quickly and identify appropriate extinguishing methods
  • Trainee is familiar with the location and can describe the safe and proper use of fixed and portable of fire suppression and extinguishing systems
  •  Trainee has practical knowledge of fire-fighting procedures, various fire-fighting agents, and methods for offensive/defensive operations


From the standpoint of programme delivery, the training is comprised of two main components. One component will be taught at sea on S V Ruth using facilities provided by S V Ruth Ltd.. The training at sea is expected to be for 21 days.

The other component will be shore-based and will utilize facilities secured by the SJPP. The shore-based training, which is referred to as the Basic Safety Training Course, is comprised of selected topics/activities pertaining to safety and survival and are drawn from the overall curriculum shown above. The duration of the Basic Safety Course is approximately 9 days. The activities comprising the shore-based component and the corresponding training locations and or SJPP training partners are shown in Table 2

Table 2: Summary of activities and training plan of the shore-based component of the STCW2010 – Basic Safety Training Course.


Venue/SJPP Partner

and security awareness


survival techniques (Theory)


survival techniques (Practical)

Pelican, Coast Guard Headquarters

fire-fighting (Theory)


fire-fighting (Practical)

Hall Fire Station, St. Thomas

first aid (Theory)


first aid (Practical)


safety and social responsibility (Theory)