Professional Mariner: Congress instructs USCG to drop radar recertification requirement

“The operational use of manual plotting, as required in the refresher course, has been obsolete for many years. This change is likely to be received with relief by many mariners, as the educational burden for working seafarers has increased substantially in the past decade.”

The last refresher class I took 5 or so years ago was a confirmation of a skill useful in an earlier age. Good mental exercise but too much like a refresher course required to stay current on the use of lead lines.

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Never mind.

It’s interesting that someone motivated Congress to step in and spank the USCG on this. The USCG is just like TOTE, they don’t fix anything on their own.

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…I don’t know…the refresher was one day…is it really that much of a burden to spend a few hours proving you understand the theory behind what the computer is doing for you? This community has been up in arms over the lack of basic watch keeping skills with our counterparts in USN hulls so why is this such a bad thing? Not that it is a deal, but I had my guys run plots earlier in the year (we work on a tug) when the ARPA radar went catty-whompus (a technician attended at the next port). We have to renew firefighting and BST now and I am hard pressed to think that radar plotting, and a firm grasp of the theory, does not need to be reviewed every 5 years as well.

I yield my soapbox and await the flames…


I can see having renewal for ARPA might have more value than rapid radar plotting. Except for a USN Crusier I have not seen a glass plotter in many years.

true, the one day certifcation isn’t that big of a deal and if you have an employer reimbursing you for it, why not? The nearest school to me is about a two hour drive. Lots of mariners don’t have that luxury.

Considering the burden of renewing STCW by taking the revalidation/refresher classes I think radar recert falls low on the list priority wise, if we wanted to say what’s more important for keeping ourselves safe.

It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a refresher for medical care provider considering how much important information was crammed into such a short class. It’s not like we are EMTs and get to practice these skills everyday. I know, be careful for what I wish for…


As much as I hate to admit it, I can see MEDPIC as a renewed course. I am very grateful that I had it as in the recent past I needed to deal with two med emergencies at work. The training popped right into my head but it was less than 2 yrs ago that I had the class…how I would responded 7 years down the road is anyone’s guess.

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Med pic and advanced fire are the two classes I actually want to see refreshed on a regular basis. Not used enough and the skills need to be sharp when you are called upon to use them.


Adv. Fire is now a $500 Revalidation requirement, as is BT and PSC. That’s three courses that take 5 to 6 days and $1500 or more, plus travel, hotels, and meals. I agree that it’s a good idea to have these refreshers. But, I don’t agree with the high cost. The schools are really sticking it to us. In an era of fewer, lower quality, lower paying jobs, and on top of all the other STCW and industry courses we have to take, this is hard to swallow. The radar renewal does have some value’ I wouldn’t mind if it could be done online for $100.

Someone, maybe MARAD, should fund development of standard online STCW courses. The hands on parts of BT, PSC, and Adv. Fire Revalidation could be done in one 12 hour day at much lower cost.

The USCG probably thinks that unions and employers are paying for these courses, but most of us have to pay out of pocket. It’s really discouraging to pay for all these courses and the get a pay cut.

I understand that the foreigners have to retake Med PiC and GMDSS every five years. Eventually, so will we. That’s 20 days and at least $10,000 with travel and hotels.

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On the bright side psc refresher isn’t required if you have 360 8 hr u/w days.

Like you said most aren’t fortunate in the sense that their employer or union will foot the bill. It has become expensive to maintain a license let alone get one in the first place.

Add that to the fact that a lot of us are making the kind of wages we made years ago…

I’m pushing for one day renewal for everything every 10 years for 150.00 dollars.

Maybe not online because of cheating, but there are local test proctoring centers that could be contracted with to administer the test. The “renewal” I took wasn’t a course, just the exam…

IMHO, they should bring back the five-year COLREGs test requirement, especially when I hear licensed deck officers using terms like "extremis’ that haven’t been in the book for a long time.

I agree absolutely, and even mentioned the same when I was in the REC a couple months ago. But don’t use the “In extremis” usage as a sign that it’s needed. I had an old Lykes Master as my instructor for RoR, and got it so drilled into my head that I’ll still slip up and use the phrase to this day even though I know darn well it’s not actually in COLREGS.

No reason to worry about cheating on an online exam. Damn few people fail radar renewal at a school. The schools make sure everyone passes. That’s what they are getting paid for. Most other courses at most other schools are the same. Everyone passes. I have seen some really pathetic and hopelessly unqualified people pass. The only school that I have ever heard of that regularly fails students is MITAGS/PMI.

They was one school that a had a motto “we hold you hand until your hand holds a license.”

Obviously, the USCG is more concerned with avoiding the burden of administering the exams, than they are with the integrity of the exams. Allowing private for profit schools to administer the exams to their paying customers is absurd. As ridiculous as allowing companies to hire third party inspectors which they chose and pay to inspect their ships.

I do applaud the USCG for securing the exam questions against public disclosure so that schools can no longer teach memorization instead of seamenship.


I wonder where the prodding came from.

one of my co-workers just did his BT revalidation and was telling me his school passed a guy who was scared shitless and couldn’t function in the pool, which is pretty sad.

I’m mixed on this. The current system and classes are like taking a test while someone stomps their foot twice when you get the right answer.

I’ve been downright shocked at how little some people knew about basic radar plotting theory so forcing them to get acquainted with it every five years made some sense. But the protocol should be like it is for cpr. Take a relatively challenging test right off the bat and if you pass you get a certificate. If not, you sit through the class and get up to speed.

I’d also agree on a five year ROR certification to some extent. Dare I say “oral Q’s”. That may require some knowledgeable examiners though.

No more Radar Recert is bullshit, I think it should be done every 6 months.


Some schools have quite a bit of pool time for BT, but others much less. As far as pool exercises go, the USCG should add HUET to BT. That tells you very quickly who is going to panic under stress in the water and who is going to be able to function.