FCC licenses vs. USCG endorsements

Hi everyone, I’m currently building up sea time and adding some endorsements along the way. I’ve passed the FCC exams for Elements 1, 3, 7, 8 and 9. However, I’ve not been able to find any guidance as to whether I can submit the FCC certificates to the USCG and receive the corresponding endorsements without taking the corresponding USCG exams, or whether I would have to sit for the USCG exams to receive the endorsements. Does anyone have experience with this?

If you are referring to the fcc marine radio operator’s permit, that has nothing to do with uscg other than them asking if you have a permit while they are conducting an inspection.

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As some ships still have RO’s, are you referring to this? National Radio Officer Checklist

If you’re looking for the STCW GMDSS endorsement you have to take a CG certified course. You can’t just take an exam.

You can get certified as an Operator/Maintainer on your own. That’s useful if you work on a vessel with GMDSS but isn’t STCW. As far as I know that’s pretty limited outside the fishing industry.

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The STCW endorsement requires a practical demonstration using real or simulated equipment. A written exam alone is not enough. Aññ Coast Guard approved courses include a written exam that meets FCC requirements, but not all FCC accepted courses have a practical component that meets Coast Guard requirements.

So, FCC acceptance alone is not enough. It has to be approved by the Coast Guard for the STCW endorsement.

These GMDSS requirements need an overhaul. The whole damn thing ought to be waived for Jones Act vessels.

I did not realize that some ships still have RO’s. Do you know what ships still include RO’s? Is this likely to continue beyond the near term (1-2) years? Do you know their pay rates?

Thanks MAK. Is an Operator/Maintainer common on fishing vessels?

Thanks jdcavo. Your reply is just what I was trying to determine. I didn’t know that the USCG required a practical demonstration.

tugsailor, I’m new to sea duty, so just wondering why you think GMDSS requirements need an overhaul and why they should be specifically waived for Jones Act vessels? Are you referring specifically to tugs or are deep sea vessels included? Do you perceive a weakness in FCC/USCG training or is it the GMDSS system itself that needs improvement?

GDMSS is obsolete and is not used beyond giving lip service to the bare minimum regulatory requirements. There is very little in the training that is worth the time, effort, and expense that goes into it. 90% of it is never used and promptly forgotten. I can think of many better uses for our time and money.


Not particularly. The Maintainer part is generally handled by shoreside contractors and the situation in which it would save money has never come up, but I have it if for some reason it does. It theoretically could.

The Operator part is just avoiding going to MPT/other school and taking the class. That’s a class that people rarely retain any information from and I have better uses for my time.

I do not know what they make but I believe the jobs are primarily on government contract ships. They are usually referred to as MREO’s. There was a topic thread a few years ago. If you use the search function you should find it. Google “American Radio Association” as they are the union that represents them.

AMO has RO’s as well. They make usually 2nd Mate wages. Only on MSC contract ships. Some carry ETO’s which serve as RO’s and have some extra duties, they make chief mate money.

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Matson still has RTO’s they are ARA

I am a fisherman and have the STCW GMDSS endorsement. I am studying for the Maintainer part of the license now.
I am interested in where/how you got that part from the FCC. Did you have to sit for a test?
I want the maintainer part of the license so I can install radios in my small plane.
Who says GMDSS is some obsolete boondoggle for some sleazy politician somewhere…it actually has some benefit to some of us holding it.