Change In Personnel Licensing Regulations For Commercial Ships Sought By U.S. Coast Guard

The Coast Guard is attempting to simplify and improve the licensing regulations for all commercial vessel personnel. The proposed amendments in CGD81-059 offer a license structure with career patterns for persons serving on all waters and on all kinds of vessels, from small passenger vessels to large oceangoing vessels. The proposed regulations also incorporate the requirements of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978 (STCW).

Major changes/key points: The notice proposes a simplified two license structure (Master/ Mate and Chief Engineer/Assistant Engineer) on inland waters for service on any tonnage vessel and also for service on vessels up to 1,600 gross tons on near coastal waters (up to 200 miles offshore).

Trade restricted licenses would be eliminated— except for the restricted licenses established in law: uninspected towing and fishing vessels, pilot, motorboat operator, and non-navigating river mate.

Ocean operator and operator licenses will become masters and mates with route and tonnage limitations extended to 200 gross tons and near coastal waters.

License operators of uninspected towing vessels will be able to credit service toward obtaining master or mate licenses.

Special "industrial" licenses are established for officers who work on mobile offshore units.

Changes to requirements for a motorboat operator license will make it easier to obtain initially (on inland waters) and easier to use as a stepping stone to more advanced licenses.

The written exam subjects for the licenses have been standardized and would be listed in the new regulations. Consideration is being given to removing or limiting exam items on celestial navigation. Comments are specifically invited on this topic.

Exams for licenses would be required only at entry and command level.

When any license is renewed, the license holder would be required to complete an open book exercise (all of which could be done through the mail).

For persons who may have difficulty with written exams, the new rules would provide for oral exams administered under special circumstances.

Present license holders will be able to take advantage of the new structure when they renew their license or if they present information to the Coast Guard that justifies obtaining the new license earlier. (Note: If an officer is otherwise qualified to upgrade his license to a command level, he will have to take a partial exam on "command" topics).

The proposed regulations would allow substitution of simulator time or special training for underway service.

The proposed regulations would eliminate the special consideration given to former members of the armed forces regarding recency of experience.

The Coast Guard Regional Exam Centers will have more latitude in evaluating certain licensing matters.

Flow charts have been added to the regulations to illustrate the pattern of career advancement possible under the proposed rules.

Public comment period closes on December 6, 1983.

The complete proposed rule making appears in the Federal Register/Vol. 48, No. 153/Monday August 8, 1983.

If you have questions concerning the proposed regulations, contact LCDR George Naccara (202) 426-2240.

Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 40,  Oct 1983 Connecticut

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