Frequently Asked Questions

How will it affect U.S. mariners?
Coast Guard rules on qualifying for licenses and certificates are already more stringent than STCW standards in many cases.  However, each license of rating requirement will have to be compared to the STCW requirement, and the more stringent requirement met.  In addition to the testing required for the US Coast Guard license, additional training and then demonstration of the expertise obtained during that training will be required in order to obtain an STCW – 95 Certificate. These certificates will become an integral part of the license when used in the United States, and the only document reviewed by foreign governments.

Who will be affected by the changes?
Perhaps the best way to answer that is to look at who will NOT be affected:
The Coast Guard rules implementing STCW do not apply to mariners on the the following:
(1) Un-inspected passenger vessels (6 pak charter boats)
(2) Fishing vessels.
(3) Fish-tenders
(4) Barges, including MODUs
(5) Vessels operating exclusively on the Great Lakes
If, they operate exclusively in U.S. waters not more than 200 miles offshore (and do NOT make a foreign port call),
(6) Inspected small passenger vessels
(7) Vessels of less than 200 GRT (other than inspected passenger vessels)

That leaves these vessels covered by the rules, if they operate offshore beyond the Boundary Line:
(1) Commercial vessels of 200 GRT and greater, operating domestic or foreign
(2) Inspected small passenger vessels operating on foreign voyages; and,
(3) All other commercial vessels less than 200 grt operating on foreign voyages

What will be the most significant changes?
Basic Safety Training
The most significant part of the STCW rules in terms of the number of people affected is the requirement for anyone "who is a part of the required crew complement or is assigned a responsibility on the muster list" to complete Basic Safety Training. Basic Safety training is required of everyone after February 1, 1997.

Four elements must be covered in Basic Training: basic firefighting, elementary first aid, personal survival, and personal safety & social responsibility. These courses will involve a significant "hands on" element that cannot be provided by videotape or classroom instruction.
People who began their sea service prior to February 1, 1997 will have to complete Basic Safety training at some point if they want to advance to a license or certificate that will have an STCW certificate valid after February 1, 2002.

Anyone who gets a license after February 1, 2002 will have to comply with all STCW standards.
Competence in Basic Safety must be maintained at 5 year intervals, but shoreside refresher courses are not necessary if the person has been through a "well organized program of drills and structured training exercises with evaluation against appropriate criteria and areas of weakness are brought to the person's attention."

Demonstrations of Proficiency
License and certificate applicants will have to demonstrate their proficiency in the skills needed for the position in addition to passing a written exam. These demonstrations must be observed by a "designated examiner" or "assessor" who has been specially trained or instructed in the techniques. D.E.s will be trained mariners, not Coast Guard personnel. The mariner will keep a record of these demonstrations in a "Training Record Book," which will have to be submitted to the Coast Guard at the time of application.

What will happen to people currently holding licenses and certificates?
Generally speaking, everyone's license (except those exempted from the requirements) will become unusable on February 1, 2002 UNLESS they comply with STCW 95 standards by that time. Although people will be allowed to renew their Coast Guard licenses to be valid after that date, the STCW certificate which permits service beyond the Boundary Line will not be issued for service after that date unless the individual:

(1) has completed all four elements of Basic Safety Training
(2) completes GMDSS (or is restricted to non-GMDSS equipped ships)
(3) completes a course in ARPA (or is restricted to non-ARPA equipped ships)
(4) has Lifeboatman, AB, or a course in survival craft & rescue boats.

Masters and mates on GMDSS equipped vessels must have an FCC license (by testing) AND complete an approved course OR approved training that includes assessment of competence by a qualified assessor. After February 1, 1999, this becomes effective for radio watchstanders on GMDSS-equipped vessels. After February 1, 2002, it applies to all Master and Mate candidates, unless they want to be restricted to vessels not equipped with GMDSS.

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