I am currently studying for my 500 ton masters exam. I have completed AB unlimited, Radar, Advanced fire fighting, STCW basic training, PFC Lifeboatman, RFPNW and still need to take Bridge resource management, medical first aid provider and flashing light. I will be taking a prep course for the 500 ton exam so I still have a good amount of money to spend to get my 500 ton. My question is should I wait to take ARPA, ECDIS and GMDSS at a later date? Those three courses would double my costs.

You can always go back and get them, but most coastal tug companies require all of the mentioned classes…do you have time as mate?

I went back and took ECDIS once it was on my vessel. It depends on your company and what your vessel is equipped with. It’s pretty easy to add that stuff on later if you just want to test and get your license.

I suggest getting some sound advice from a knowledgeable person before spending any money. Your plans and priorities may change when you learn exactly what you need for what you will apply for.

If you want the STCW endorsement for Master, you probably need more courses: Advanced Shiphandling, Advanced Stability, and Advanced Meteorology. You also need the assessments for Master Less Than 3,000 GT.

If you need BRM and flashing light, it sounds like you don’t have an STCW endorsement for OICNW (if you do, you don’t need BRM or flashing light). If you do not have OICNW, you will need to meet all of the requirements for that to qualify for the STCW Master endorsement, That means a lot more courses, all of the ones for the OICNW endorsement, and all of the OICNW assessments.

You can defer ARPA, ECDIS, and GMDSS for a later date. You can get the Master STCW endorsement without them, but will be limited to vessels without that equipment.

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I do have the STCW endorsement for ll/3 Officers in charge of a navigational watch and Masters (less than 500 gross tons) listed under the international regulations.

STCW Section II/3 is for less than 500 GT/200 GRT. For 500 GT (200 GRT) or More, it’s section II/1 of STCW. You’re going to need to meet the requirements for OICNW for 500 GT or More (II/1). That still means quite a few more courses, and assessments. As I suggested, get some knowledgeable assistance beforte committing to anything.

For the size vessels you are involved with you don’t need ARPA, ECDIS, GMDSS, etc. there are a few potential employers that prefer those courses. Maybe a couple that require them. Hold off on spending your money.


Similar idea as what they all said, hold off. Get the license as quick as you can and focus on what you need for that.

If and when you do take them, my most likely timing when you do take them would be to do ARPA, followed by GMDSS, then ECDIS last of the three.

Cruise the job boards and web sites of companies you would desire working for and look for jobs that you otherwise qualify for. See if any require those courses to get a better idea of what you will need for future jobs over and above the primary license.

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