Is BCO necessary?

I’m looking to make a move from OSV to MODU as 3rd Mate/DPO. I keep seeing BCO listed as a prerequisite.

Is this primarily for DPO’s who do not hold a maritime license and thus have no stability training?

If it is necessary to hold a certification as ballast control operator, how important is it to have before applying for a job? Or can I take it after I get hired?

Thanks for your help.

Contact Capt. Lee

A BCO license is only legally required to be held by the BCOs on an anchored semi which is strictly a non self propelled MODU. On such a rig, the legal manning might be an OIM, Barge Supervisor, Barge Engineer, 2 BCOs and 2 A/B MODUs. On a drillship or DP semisub, the flag state generally requires a master, chief mate, 2 watchkeeping mates, 2 ABs, Chief Engineer, 2 watchkeeping engineers and 2 oilers. The exception to this is ENSCO who have managed to get Liberia to class their 7500 and 8500 series semis as non self propelled MODUs and thus have the same legal manning as any anchored semi. Complete and utter bullshit imo but so it goes. I am surprised that other DP semi owners don’t demand the same or perhaps they understand the difference between minimum manning and safe manning.

Anyway to make a short answer long, a few driling companies will hire 3000ton licenses to be DPOs provided they have unlimited DP certificates (Noble Drilling in particular) but most drilling companies want both unlimited tonnage mate’s licenses and DP certificates to be a full DPO and 3 years as being on a DP rig to be a senior DPO. Many will also hire a third mate (usually right out of school) without a DP certificate to be a training DPO (ADPO). It is this very last category that everybody who wants into drilling is trying to get for themselves but the competition is fierce. So to come full circle…having a BCO license is needed on ENSCO’s DP semis but not legally required on anybody elses (I am not sure who you refer to as listing it as a requirement?) but having one can never hurt although I wouldn’t pin my hopes that having it will get you the spot you seek. You’re best bet is get the DP certificate on a DP2 OSV and then get your 3rd mate’s license. Getting the DP is the harder of the two so best to get out of the way first or get your 3rd mate first but stay on OSVs until you can get your DP, ie. don’t count on being able to get on with a drilling company with only the 3rd mate’s ticket.

BCO it totally related to the Safe Manning Certificate, granted to a vessel from the flag state. Most drilling vessels have three different status criteria per the manning certificate: On Location, Underway less than 72 hours, and Underway Greater Than 72 hours. That is what dictates manning, licenses, and “certificates”. So yes, if on a MODU and that Safe Manning Certificate has “BCO” listed on it, it is necessary. Also, there is a lot more to ballasting and de-ballasting a semi than they teach at any school, most of it is OJT what you’ll really learn and use.

We are a 6th gen DP semi - Manning Cert is 1 OIM, 1 BS/BE, 2 BCO, 2 AB/Lifeboatman on Location. All of our DPO’s are licensed BCO’s. This changes if Underway in both less/more than 72 hours. HTHelps.

I was a BCO on a nuclear powered fast attack Submarine. I wonder what kind of credit I can get with that? Maybe combined with a feww buck$ I can buy a coffee,
(I just wanted to say that before someone else did)

The USCG may or may not recognize the time, a past BCO of mine did get sea time toward his license with it but that was several years back…

This is the BULLY 1’s Liberia flag state safe manning certificate:

[B]UNDERWAY MORE THAN 72 HOURS:[/B]
1 Master (STCW II/2)
1 Chief Engineer (STCW III/2)
1 Chief Mate (STCW II/2)
1 Navigational Watch Officers (STCW II/1)**
[FONT=Times New Roman]1 Second Engineer (STCW III/2)
[/FONT]1 Engineering Watch Officers (EWO) (STCW III/1)
3 Able Seamen (MODU) 3 Oilers/Motormen (STCW III/4)
1 Ordinary Seaman (MODU)
8 Survival Craftsmen

[B]UNDERWAY - SHORT FIELD MOVES OF 72 HOURS OR LESS:[/B]
1 Master (STCW II/2)
1 Chief Engineer (STCW III/2)
1 Chief Mate (STCW II/2)
1 Second Engineer (STCW III/2)
3 Able Seamen (MODU)
3 Oilers/Motormen (STCW III/4)
1 Ordinary Seaman (MODU)
8 Survival Craftsmen

[B]ON STATION DRILLING (DP):[/B]
1 Master (STCW II/2) /Offshore Installation Manager
1 Chief Engineer (STCW III/2)
1 Chief Mate (STCW II/2)
1 EWO (STCW III/1)
2 Able Seamen
1 Engineer Ratings (STCW III/4)
1 Ordinary Seaman
8 Survival Craftsmen

Of course, we’re not a semi so maybe a DP semi might also be assessed to be required to carry BCOs as well.

Drillship manning compared to a semi, the flag state comparisons. Semi’s probably are more likely to have BCO’s in the manning certificates.

Thanks for all the replies. Just to clarify – I already hold 1600/3000 Master Oceans, 3rd Mate Unlimited and DP Unlimited, with 3 years of DP experience on OSV’s.

What I am understanding is that there is no simple, universal answer but that it depends on the Safe Manning Certificate. Since I am looking to get on to a drillship or DP semisub as a DPO it sounds like the likely candidates would not be requiring BCO. Is that correct?

Thanks again.

[QUOTE=Black_Angel;52250]Thanks for all the replies. Just to clarify – I already hold 1600/3000 Master Oceans, 3rd Mate Unlimited and DP Unlimited, with 3 years of DP experience on OSV’s.

What I am understanding is that there is no simple, universal answer but that it depends on the Safe Manning Certificate. Since I am looking to get on to a drillship or DP semisub as a DPO it sounds like the likely candidates would not be requiring BCO. Is that correct?

Thanks again.[/QUOTE]

If you already have the 3rd mate and DPO you should be able to get a position on a drillship or DP semi. I think you should try Transocean, Pride, Diamond and Noble first. Seadrill, Maersk, Vantage and Pacific might be a bit tougher to get aboard with since they pay more and as a result are able to set higher qualifications. I do not believe any of these companies make having BCO a hard requirement for a DPO position. I know my company (Noble) doesn’t and you might have a good chance at getting aboard. Send me a PM and I’ll see what I can do here as I need a man like you for the BULLY I.

[QUOTE=Black_Angel;52250]Thanks for all the replies. Just to clarify – I already hold 1600/3000 Master Oceans, 3rd Mate Unlimited and DP Unlimited, with 3 years of DP experience on OSV’s.

What I am understanding is that there is no simple, universal answer but that it depends on the Safe Manning Certificate. Since I am looking to get on to a drillship or DP semisub as a DPO it sounds like the likely candidates would not be requiring BCO. Is that correct?

Thanks again.[/QUOTE]

Not having the BCO is not a big deal and it is pretty common not to have it when starting out. To get BCO all you need is 28 days sea time as a BCO trainee if you hold an unlimited mate license. Actually requiring it depends on the safe manning for sure, but most of the drilling companies have it on their training matrix and require you to get it. Getting it is easy, so getting hired without it is common.

[QUOTE=c.captain;52138]A BCO license is only legally required to be held by the BCOs on an anchored semi which is strictly a non self propelled MODU. [/QUOTE]

Not always the case. The DP semi I was on switched from Panama to Marshall Islands. After the change, the new SMD required two BCO, a BS, and OIM. So we had all the DPO’s get a BCO endorsement, the Chief Mates got a BS, and Captain’s had OIM.

For the the unclicensed DPO’s it was their first USCG License, and forced them to get all the other stuff for an original licence. For the rest of us, it was just two USCG tests plus MODU stablity which was already on the company training matrix.

I’ve heard some say they didn’t want to “dirty” their license but if you’re already a mate, go get it. You never know when you might need it.

Good post.

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Hey “c Captain”, trying to send you a PM. Your box is FULL.

If a BCO endorsement is required for you to obtain a job, then apply to test.
You have already passed the USCG license exam.
To be eligible for BCO exam you will need to take a BCO course, MODU stability class,(no-issue for a Licensed Officer), possibly another Water Survival Course and prove 28 days of service as a trainee under the supervision of a licensed Ballast Control Operator. Your company should be able to handle the correct wording for the letter.
You have already completed Advanced Fire Fighting.
The test is equivalent to the USCG AB exam and you can take it at the training facility.

Obtaining a BCO license is relatively easy to get and not too terribly time consuming. You can obtain the stability class and BCO course at Martin International in La Place, LA and they serve a mean Grilled Steak on Wednesdays. This is not the exact same type of stability curriculum you would receive at a Maritime College. It is specifically geared to the old MODU industry that was “Pre-DP”. I have been on new vessels with and without BCO’s and Barge Engineers. If you are on a drilling rig you will definitely want a BCO/Barge Engineer onboard. There are simply too many systems in place to be safely operated by a Chief Mate and Marine crew unless they are extensively trained and well manned. Generally the majority of Mariners (please don’t be sensitive) have very little experience with the drilling operation. Having a BCO at the alarm panel available to chase down faults, transfer fluids and help manage take on/take off of fluids is invaluable during operations. A drilling rig can have 150-200 people on the POB or more vs a 28 man Cargo ship. The majority of mariners coming into the drilling industry are inexperienced and having a BCO with an extensive drilling background can really save your butt. If you lose DP which happens, your DPO’s will be busy driving and standing in a pool of their own sweat. Chances are when you lose automated station keeping you will probably be latched up and taking on fuel or something too.

And remember all of the extra regulatory bodies you have to answer to in drilling also, your deck marine/crew will be busy enough as it is appeasing their stringent rules/regs. If you have a BCO be glad. If you are a 3rd mate you will find a gig offshore and they will put you though the course if you need it. I totally agree that it is silly to send a Captain or Chief Mate to BCO course to satisfy some of the requirements. But if you swallow your pride you may learn something from the class, if not from the curriculum but from the general discussions between other students and their personal experiences. A cargo ship will handle much more differently than a Drillship. And Remember it is a “Drillship” not a “Shipdrill”. The purpose of the vessel is to remain on location to dig a hole. It will take the world awhile to catch up to the expansion of DP drilling vessels in use so we are going to have to pave the way. It is a fortunate time for us to be a part of this revolution.

With that said I would like to know what is the training and sea time matrix for a BCO to obtain an Unlimited Tonnage 3rd mate license if time served as a BCO is on unlimited tonnage drill ships or MODU’s? Is it possible with all of the changes?

[QUOTE=“rigdevil;62570”]Obtaining a BCO license is relatively easy to get and not too terribly time consuming. You can obtain the stability class and BCO course at Martin International in La Place, LA and they serve a mean Grilled Steak on Wednesdays. This is not the exact same type of stability curriculum you would receive at a Maritime College. It is specifically geared to the old MODU industry that was “Pre-DP”. I have been on new vessels with and without BCO’s and Barge Engineers. If you are on a drilling rig you will definitely want a BCO/Barge Engineer onboard. There are simply too many systems in place to be safely operated by a Chief Mate and Marine crew unless they are extensively trained and well manned. Generally the majority of Mariners (please don’t be sensitive) have very little experience with the drilling operation. Having a BCO at the alarm panel available to chase down faults, transfer fluids and help manage take on/take off of fluids is invaluable during operations. A drilling rig can have 150-200 people on the POB or more vs a 28 man Cargo ship. The majority of mariners coming into the drilling industry are inexperienced and having a BCO with an extensive drilling background can really save your butt. If you lose DP which happens, your DPO’s will be busy driving and standing in a pool of their own sweat. Chances are when you lose automated station keeping you will probably be latched up and taking on fuel or something too.

And remember all of the extra regulatory bodies you have to answer to in drilling also, your deck marine/crew will be busy enough as it is appeasing their stringent rules/regs. If you have a BCO be glad. If you are a 3rd mate you will find a gig offshore and they will put you though the course if you need it. I totally agree that it is silly to send a Captain or Chief Mate to BCO course to satisfy some of the requirements. But if you swallow your pride you may learn something from the class, if not from the curriculum but from the general discussions between other students and their personal experiences. A cargo ship will handle much more differently than a Drillship. And Remember it is a “Drillship” not a “Shipdrill”. The purpose of the vessel is to remain on location to dig a hole. It will take the world awhile to catch up to the expansion of DP drilling vessels in use so we are going to have to pave the way. It is a fortunate time for us to be a part of this revolution.[/QUOTE]

I’m reviving an old thread. The search button actually works. Have the BCO regs changed in the last year? Is it optimal to go and get training at Martin Int’l before applying to…say…Transocean?

[QUOTE=c.captain;52146]This is the BULLY 1’s Liberia flag state safe manning certificate:

Of course, we’re not a semi so maybe a DP semi might also be assessed to be required to carry BCOs as well.[/QUOTE]
It should be noted this is classified as Minnium Manning requirement. Many Companies carry more individual personnel- Some can cross classify.
IE if you have a Unlimited Mate or Engineer’s licence you can qualify for BCO- But …why. There’s a need for both out there. BCO on it’s own is a narrow field.

      • Updated - - -

[QUOTE=hom4us4;59080]If a BCO endorsement is required for you to obtain a job, then apply to test.
You have already passed the USCG license exam.
To be eligible for BCO exam you will need to take a BCO course, MODU stability class,(no-issue for a Licensed Officer), possibly another Water Survival Course and prove 28 days of service as a trainee under the supervision of a licensed Ballast Control Operator. Your company should be able to handle the correct wording for the letter.
You have already completed Advanced Fire Fighting.
The test is equivalent to the USCG AB exam and you can take it at the training facility.[/QUOTE]

I’m wondering when the HR depts will catch up with reality. - If you hold a 2/mate why take a BCO? I’m blown away when a job for Engineer Unlimited lists it as Voc tech/ Trade - when in fact it’s a Bachelor of Science ENGINEERING degree