With the exception of tugs going to Canada, I do not expect to see any significant change from the unlicensed tug engineers we have now. A lot of them have nothing more than OS/Wiper. In fact, I expect that most new tugs will be built under 100 GRT — that’s now a 120’ 6000hp boat — so that that they won’t even require a MMC, STCW, or a licensed engineer (of course the master and Mate will need Master of towing and Mate of towing). Other than the ATBs, I see little need for tugs larger than 120’ and 6000hp. Actually, there is very little non-oil barge towing work that cannot be done with tugs that are an honest 3000hp. While a handful of the bigger companies may prefer it, I don’t see much need for DDEs, on tugs.
When you consider that OS/Wipers have routinely been sailing as unlicensed Chief Engineers on tugs for as long as I can remember, and will continue to, there would certainly be nothing wrong with allowing 3AEs to be the licensed Chief on tugs.
I certainly don’t see any point in having any exam for a licensed engineer that is easier than the 3AE motor exam (not to say its an easy exam), nor any license, like DDE, that is lower than 3AE.
The horsepower limitations for seatime, or even using seatime at a particular horsepower as a limiting factor, ought to be rethought as well. Previously I gave the example:
If a 3AE Unlimited sails as Chief on a 120’ 99GRT tug that is single screw with one 20-645 EMD at 3600hp, he cannot upgrade to 2AE Unlimited because it’s under 4000hp. But if he sails on a 120’, 99GRT tug that is twin screw with two 20-645 EMDs and 7200hp, he can upgrade to 2AE unlimited. I just don’t see any significant difference in the value of the seatime for the engineer.
Maybe 70 years ago there was a big difference between experience gained on a ship under or over 4000hp, but I do not see anything significant about the 4000hp cutoff today.