I’m wondering how many seamen out there have used flashing light for communications, other than to supplement maneuvering signals?
Here are just a few issues I have with the current flashing light requirements:
[li]If you don’t use flashing light on a regular basis, there is no way you are going to maintain sufficient proficiency to use it in an emergency. Hence, with lack of proficiency, attempting to use flashing light in a stressful emergency situation is dangerous.[/li][li]The USCG is requiring US deck officers to pass a flashing light exam for each and every license upgrade: initial to 3/M, 3/M to 2/M, 2/M to C/M, and C/M to Master. STCW only requires one to demonstrate initial proficiency for the original OICNW certificate.[/li][li]The USCG no longer offers flashing light testing at the REC, even though it requires it for each upgrade. Your only choice is go go to a union or private school. These schools are charging up to $200 or more to give a ten-minute exam! If you don’t live near the school, add flight costs, hotel, etc. The USCG said they stopped giving the exam because their old cassette recorder testers were wearing out. They could simply buy a cheap pc program and be back in business at virtually no cost, but instead they are shifting the expense burden onto hundreds of mariners. And they are letting these schools price gouge!!![/li][li]I’m wondering if every USCG officer who is approved for watch standing is proficient in flashing light. I’ll bet a USCG officer is not required to take this exam (and pay for the costs, including travel) each time they are promoted in rank. Oh, somehow that’s probably different.[/li][/ol]
I think it’s time to eliminate the flashing light requirement for commercial seaman. It is as technologically outmoded as a CW watch on 500kHz.