MMP is looking out for everyone

The Coast Guard is proposing sweeping changes in U.S. requirements for the issuance of credentials to both officers and ratings under its interpretation of the new Manila Amendments to the international STCW Code. The general thrust of the Coast Guard’s proposal is to create a pathway for any mariner to move from entry level to unlimited ocean master by means of onboard experience and assessment–with a minimum of training and the associated costs. MM&P has filed comments objecting to the lowering of standards and the deskilling of officers’ positions on large ocean-going ships.

The Coast Guard proposes, for example, that a 1600 GRT master could have the tonnage limitation removed to an unlimited ocean masters license after six months of service on his limited license. Assessments could be signed off on by any mariner with a license higher than the mariner being assessed, a situation that could clearly raise the risk of fraudulent assessments, undermining the integrity of the licensing system.

The Coast Guard also proposes that a third mate could qualify for unlimited ocean master with 36 months’ sea service, without any time as chief mate. The focus, inappropriately, is on increasing the supply of higher level license holders, rather than ensuring that the mariners in question possess the necessary experience, abilities and skills to safely operate and manage large ocean-going ships. This is a strange position for the Coast Guard to take given the public’s zero tolerance for maritime accidents and the resulting environmental damage.

The USCG Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee (MERPAC) met at USCG Headquarters Oct. 5-7 to consider the USCG proposal. During the course of the meetings, MM&P expressed its concerns with the new licensing proposal and debated with the interests that are pushing to reduce standards.

The proposed regulations and comments to the docket can be viewed on the website http://www.regulations.gov and searching for Docket No. USCG-2004-17914.

I don’t see why time as chief mate is so crucial. I think it is a hindrance. And maybe a 1600 ton master should have some tonnage time but what is the sense in making someone with years of watch standing time already start over at 3m? It is more likely that MM&P is protecting their own interests as a labor pool over the safety of mariners by restricting the flow of new unlimited license holders.

I think you definitely should need some time in a management role before getting your terminal License. For the most part, time as CM or 1AE has served that purpose. As ATBs in particular get bigger and regulations increase, the amount of management experience for someone sailing on their 1600ton Master license definitely meets that requirement and easily equivalent IMHO.

I also think you should get credit for the combined tonnage. I’ve been on the bridge and looking out the windows it sure looks like a ship and not a “boat” to me.

Agreed, some of those units are larger than some smaller ships, by combined tonnage, length, width, and depth. Furthermore, how many people are up in that wheelhouse? Required by regulation, one. In that aspect, the job performance can be more crucial.

[QUOTE=Capt. Schmitt;56713]I don’t see why time as chief mate is so crucial. I think it is a hindrance. And maybe a 1600 ton master should have some tonnage time but what is the sense in making someone with years of watch standing time already start over at 3m? It is more likely that MM&P is protecting their own interests as a labor pool over the safety of mariners by restricting the flow of new unlimited license holders.[/QUOTE]

I see it as one of those “if you have to ask why …” questions. No one is saying you have to start as 3rd mate (not that it would be such a bad idea) but that you are moving into a completely different culture than what a workboat upbringing provides. I thought I knew everything I needed to know to sail chief when I was a 2nd engineer but after spending the year as 1st I learned that I would have been a failure, not because I didn’t know how to turn a wrench or fire up the plant from cold but because I hadn’t learned how to manage a department and deal with all the things not related to the technical aspects of the job.

I shudder at the thought of limited license holders moving directly to the master and chief roles in deep sea shipping without being exposed to the industry. And they are two different industries even if the view out the window looks similar. I have seen many hawsepipers come up from the workboat side and most of them had a very difficult time adjusting. Damn few of them were prepared to take a management role and most didn’t stick around long. And along that line, the mentality that accepts the conditions and standards imposed on mariners working on ATBs is not quite ready for prime time. To make a comparison, a lot of people can fly an airplane, few are ready to be an airline pilot.

I think the MMP is trying to protect mariners and the environment from underskilled and untrained fast trackers.

Then why not right to chief mate? All the time spent watch standing, where you are the only person on watch and do not have a bridge team, should count for something. Similar to this I dont see why there is such a divide between inland and oceans licensing. The days are past when inland operation was easier. With gps and computerized auto pilots oceans navigation is easier than running inland but you cannot use inland time for an oceans license.

The coast guard is 50 years behind on technology and it appears licensing as well. There may even be the academy bias people on here always complain about.

[QUOTE=Steamer;56727]I see it as one of those “if you have to ask why …” questions. No one is saying you have to start as 3rd mate (not that it would be such a bad idea) but that you are moving into a completely different culture than what a workboat upbringing provides. I thought I knew everything I needed to know to sail chief when I was a 2nd engineer but after spending the year as 1st I learned that I would have been a failure, not because I didn’t know how to turn a wrench or fire up the plant from cold but because I hadn’t learned how to manage a department and deal with all the things not related to the technical aspects of the job.

I shudder at the thought of limited license holders moving directly to the master and chief roles in deep sea shipping without being exposed to the industry. And they are two different industries even if the view out the window looks similar. I have seen many hawsepipers come up from the workboat side and most of them had a very difficult time adjusting. Damn few of them were prepared to take a management role and most didn’t stick around long. And along that line, the mentality that accepts the conditions and standards imposed on mariners working on ATBs is not quite ready for prime time. To make a comparison, a lot of people can fly an airplane, few are ready to be an airline pilot.

I think the MMP is trying to protect mariners and the environment from underskilled and untrained fast trackers.[/QUOTE]

I agree. I referenced similar situations when I was sailing, but even on tugs and ITBs that are not tied to oilfield work, the culture is quite different between deep sea/ocean towing and offshore. The jobs and work routines are different, too. I know that both mates and engineers that came from the oil patch had some difficulty just fitting in to the seagoing routine. Some quickly got homesick.

[QUOTE=Capt. Schmitt;56730]Then why not right to chief mate? [/QUOTE]

I personally believe they got it right the first time, go sail as 2nd and learn how it works. It’s got almost nothing to do with navigation and absolutely nothing to do with academy bias.

Except they make 1600 ton masters start at third…

I don’t mean to defend any licensing system but Steamer’s analogy with aviation is a good one I think. Anyone catch that show “Alaska Air”? The pilots were what appeared to be 25year old kids flying single engine planes to remote air fields. It’s all about local knowledge and good “stick and rudder” skills. However no major airline is going to hire one of them to fly a four engine wide body passenger jet from say, New York to Amsterdam.

K.C.

I can’t imagine that any company would ever give someone a Master/Chief unlimited job without CM/1AE experience no matter what license they hold. The maritime industry as a whole has several different segments and moving back and forth between them at the top positions isn’t realistic for anyone. I also do not think the dividing lines are as stark as some make it out to be. Someone who has a fair amount of experience as Master/Chief of a large OSV or ATB probably not have an exceedingly difficult time as CM or 1AE but they definitely be more successful if they have even a little bit of 3rd or 2nd time first.

Iv sailed both inland tugs and ocean going ships, two totally different atmospheres, and challenges. A mate/master might be great working on a small to mid size supply boat using twin screws, azipods, bow thrusters ect. what happens when he is the master of a ship docking with one screw, one rudder, no bow thrusters and a tug ? I think it comes down to experience, and that you cant buy.

A master mariner is just that a master, he has or should have sailed and perfected each department. 3rd mate - 2nd mate - cm. Right now it is possible to get your chief mates license never sailing as 2nd mate. What happens when your the master and the 2nd mate has a question about voyage planning… and you say" i dont know, i never sailed 2nd mate, never did a voyage plan" or as chief mate you ask the captain or chief about how he wants to do ballasting in regards to loading bunkers in the next port. " i dont know i never sailed chief mate, i never had to do stability" How would the people under you look up to you ? how would that make you feel as master, not knowing the positions under you ?

KPEngineer: Thats mostly my point. The license is indicative of watchstanding ability. Just different types of ships require different skills. Tanker versus container, etc. A master from one cannot necessarily transition to master of another unless they had junior officer experience on the other type. So why not allow limited license personnel to get the higher license? I think CM is reasonable, but even 2M is better than the current system.

[QUOTE=Tugboattim;56751]Iv sailed both inland tugs and ocean going ships, two totally different atmospheres, and challenges. A mate/master might be great working on a small to mid size supply boat using twin screws, azipods, bow thrusters ect. what happens when he is the master of a ship docking with one screw, one rudder, no bow thrusters and a tug ? I think it comes down to experience, and that you cant buy.

A master mariner is just that a master, he has or should have sailed and perfected each department. 3rd mate - 2nd mate - cm. Right now it is possible to get your chief mates license never sailing as 2nd mate. What happens when your the master and the 2nd mate has a question about voyage planning… and you say" i dont know, i never sailed 2nd mate, never did a voyage plan" or as chief mate you ask the captain or chief about how he wants to do ballasting in regards to loading bunkers in the next port. " i dont know i never sailed chief mate, i never had to do stability" How would the people under you look up to you ? how would that make you feel as master, not knowing the positions under you ?[/QUOTE]

Excellent post. This is from someone who can verify both jobs. No one who has not sailed both inland and sea going can claim their job is harder than the other.

Every time this subject comes up the personal component is never mentioned. The entire scheme is designed for the lowest common denominator. Some have been in the same sector for years and never became worth a shit and eventually worked for every company there is. I’ve seen some jump from one sector to the next and had very little difficulty because they were simply smart enough and had the right attitude. You cannot teach experience; you have to be exposed to situations and your judgement gets better as a result over time, but that is not unique to any certain sector and the differences are marginal between them. I can appreciate Steamer’s point of view since the engine rooms between ships and boat are not just the size differences. With the guys in the bridge, I see less differences. I believe my Master experience on boats has better prepared me as a Chief Mate on drill ships. I will let you know if I have an epiphany at some point.

Read the proposed rule for yourself before you jump to any conclusions: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2011/pdf/2011-17093.pdf Take a look at the proposed 46 CFR 11.404, then compare it to the current 46 CFR 11.404 (http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=e6d0733e3cea4da111da5e16820baec4&rgn=div8&view=text&node=46:1.0.1.2.11.4.7.4&idno=46) Remember that the lkicense and STCW are separate documents with their own qualification requirements.

[QUOTE=jdcavo;56766]Read the proposed rule for yourself before you jump to any conclusions: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2011/pdf/2011-17093.pdf Take a look at the proposed 46 CFR 11.404, then compare it to the current 46 CFR 11.404 (http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=e6d0733e3cea4da111da5e16820baec4&rgn=div8&view=text&node=46:1.0.1.2.11.4.7.4&idno=46) Remember that the lkicense and STCW are separate documents with their own qualification requirements.[/QUOTE]

Thanks for the info James D. Cavo but I prefer to keep posting in complete and total ignorance with regards to the actual subject of this thread.

What draws me in to these discussions is the idea that a deep-sea ship gets pulled off the pier with tugs, is taken down the river by a pilot and then simply follows the gps to the next pilot station where the pilot takes over again. I’ve sailed tugs inland and offshore as well deep-sea. Shiphandling and the use of a sextant are both important skills but they are not the end all and be all of seamanship.

Anchorman makes a good point as well. The top people can jump around no problem. It is my view that when you move around you are better able to understand the principles behind the practice rather then just the practice.

K.C.

[QUOTE=Kennebec Captain;56772]Thanks for the info James D. Cavo but I prefer to keep posting in complete and total ignorance with regards to the actual subject of this thread.

What draws me in to these discussions is the idea that a deep-sea ship gets pulled off the pier with tugs, is taken down the river by a pilot and then simply follows the gps to the next pilot station where the pilot takes over again. I’ve sailed tugs inland and offshore as well deep-sea. Shiphandling and the use of a sextant are both important skills but they are not the end all and be all of seamanship.

Anchorman makes a good point as well. The top people can jump around no problem. It is my view that when you move around you are better able to understand the principles behind the practice rather then just the practice.

K.C.[/QUOTE]

The ship is not pulled off the pier by a tug or led out to sea by a pilot because her master is incapable [though some may be] it’s the scheme of things which is supported by the various insurers, local authorities etc. For an example, I will hazard a guess that eventually anchorman will be a master one day, he’will have to pull his ship into a shipyard at some point and when he does he will be required to use a pilot and possibly even a docking pilot depending on where in the world he is. There will also be tugs involved. When he leaves he will be required to use tugs and a pilot once again. Does this mean Anchorman is incompetent? Absolutely not, it’s just the way things work.

But it does mean that people who only work in that environment never really learn ship handling. Do you actually think most unlimited masters could dock their ship themselves, even with tugs?

If they were going to the same port and same dock day after day? Sure. At least most of the ones I have sailed with (not all no)