Professional Mariner: Congress instructs USCG to drop radar recertification requirement


Agreed. I’ve seen many watch standers that don’t have a very good concept of how to use a radar for collision avoidance. And if some people refuse to read the manuals, training is the next best thing.


Calhoun offered an online radar recert, which I did 5 years ago. It was comparable in price to a traditional school, but I could do it on my own schedule, and took the test at a local Prometric testing center. Worked well for me because I don’t live near a school. You don’t have to be a MEBA member to take it either.


While I enjoy and benefit from good courses that are well taught at a professional level in good facilities, such as ARPA ,ECDIS, or a BRM simulator course, many of these courses are poorly taught with limited facilities to a room full of novice mariners, and are of very little practical value.

On top of that we have these other safety, OSHA courses and oil patch courses that many companies require, but don’t want to pay for

We are spending too much of our own time and money on these courses with no return on investment.


That IS pretty sad. See below…

My HUET class had a guy in it who was terrified of the water. Even with a class 1 pfd he was petrified and would barely let me tow him from one end of the pool to the other one.

He still passed the class though…


That was never a legal (i.e. enforceable) requirement. It was also very poorly conceived and as applied, of questionable merit. It didn’t apply to renewals of licenses, only to upgrades and adding new endorsements, even if those endorsements had nothing to do with the Rule, e.g. Tankerman. If the applicable basis of the policy is everyone needs a refresher, it failed miserably as not everyone would ever take that refresher exam. A mariner who got an original license as OUTV or Master 100 and never upgraded could go an entire 20+ year career and never have to take that refresher, even if the rules themselves changed. Also, there was no objective evidence to support a conclusion that lack of knowledge of the Rules was a contributing factor in a disproportionate number of casualties as compared to other areas of professional competence. That a collision occurred doesn’t necessarily mean the mariner didn’t know what the rules contain (to use a possibly irrelevant analogy, an auto accident where driver X ran a red light doesn’t mean driver X didn’t know or forgot he was supposed to stop). There was also an issue of fees. Taking an exam at an REC requires payment of a fee. But since this exam was not legally mandated, no fees were collected creating an inexcusable accounting discrepancy, i.e. more exams were given than fees collected.

“In extremis” may not be in the rules, but it’s still in (case) law applying those rules. It’s still a valid term. It was first used in The Pennsylvania, 86 U.S. 125 (1873) and is still a valid doctrine. This case is the source of the Pennsylvania Rule that provides that if a vessel is in violation of a navigation statute at the time of a collision, it is presumed to be at fault. Note that a presumption can be rebutted and doesn’t by itself indicate liability. The use of the Pennsylvania Rule has been expanded to more than just Rules of the Road cases.


It’s rather naïve to think that could happen. Even if the USCG proposed to do this, there is no way they would prevail in making all mariners subject to STCW train on getting out of downed helicopters when only a small number of them would ever ride in a helicopter in connection with a shipboard job. Such a proposed rule would never see the light of day. Especially in the current climate with regard to government regulation. I am also curious what action you suggest be taken if someone panics. Revoke their credentials? However, employers are free to (try to) implement this, in a so-called “right to work” state it might actually hold up to legal challenges.

This is exactly why on-line courses must have a live, proctored exam where the student must present proof of identity.

It would require very specialized examiners. They would need to be both knowledgeable of the subject and be trained in assessment methodologies and non-directive oral examination. Especially if it’s a fluid discussion (i.e. not jest reading scripted questions). See the comments in another thread about the inability to get experienced mariners to work for the Coast Guard, and increase them consistent with the added requirements for oral examination.


I’m in agreement that whatever the USCG has currently or had in the past to serve as a continuous verification that all licensed mariners have knowledge of and are able to skillfully apply the RORs is inadequate. I also concur that there is a distinct lack of accompanying case-law knowledge with many deck officers.

That the “extremis” word still gets tossed around as being part of the gospel does bother me, especially if the individual lacks the ability to quote the actual rule that he is referring to. I have also noticed a belief that being underway in a TSS gives you the right away, that “to not impede” is synonymous with “give way” and that anytime there are more than two vessels present, it is an automatic Rule 2 situation.

While a written, periodic COLREGs exam may not be much of a gauge of a deck officer’s ability to apply the RORs correctly, it does force him to open the book every now and then. Which I am in favor of.


Even an open book exam would be a decent idea… along the lines of the open book to pull a license out of continuity. I dunno, I agree with you that there needs to be some sort of recurrent testing of some sort on RoR though.


The U.K. can do it. Why can’t we?

On the subject of the inability to attract professional mariners to come work for the NMC. If the REC’s were still truly regional, with assessors in house etc., mariners who live close to those ports would probably be more likely to work (at least) part time doing these jobs. I know that you have found a home around West Virginia and that is great for you. It is just not what I’m looking for. I enjoy my coastal living too much. I don’t particularly like to work when I’m off the ship but if it improved proficiency, I’d get the training to do these specialized assessments a couple days a week.


Nope. When NMC moved, I didn’t. I made the 90 minute commute from Fairfax, VA. My discussion was primarily to dispel misconceptions out Martinsburg, such as the oft-made “coal miner’s daughter” comment. I also was not trying to sell the area, just pointing out a problem.


I would question the “small number” of mariners who ride helos…Even with things as they are now in the Gulf, there are more mariners in Flotation Canal and just A slip who occasionally ride aircraft than there are working on any given day in the US fleet on the Lakes. Now if we add in B and C slips, Halliburton and the E fingers (not counting people already offshore) I am pretty sure that is significant portion, if not a majority of US “documented and credentialled” (man how I hate those words…it’s a LICENSE) mariners. I am not saying I agree with lumping HUET in with BT or any other renewal, but let’s be honest about where a LOT of people work. Finally, I think we can agree we have witnessed several people who were terrified of the pool portion of both HUET and BST/BT.


No coalminer’s daughters? And I harbor visions of NMC being chockablock full of young Dolly Partons.


It’s been awhile since I’ve flown on a helicopter, and I may never fly on one again, but I’m certified to fly right now. It’s surprising how many companies that had never put a crewman on a helicopter, but merely hoped to get a Shell contract wanted HUET. Even though, Shell sent everyone to a Shell approved HUET and Cold Water Survival class anyway.

Since I have to take a bunch of separate courses that take weeks and $thousands, and pose several different scheduling and travel conundrums, l’d rather take one course that covered everything and get it over with. Preferably, with a good price break.


I’d also add in the additional benefit of familiarity with helo emergency procedures if they ever have to get lifted off in an emergency and ride a CG Dolphin or Jayhawk.


Adam Smith might ask if y’all are already getting the training, why does the USCG need to require it?


wow…so much for ensuring safety of mariners.


I’ve flown four times in the last two hitches.


No immersion suits and mobile phones everywhere. What is this? A holiday trip?


It’s called “warm water.” Something I know is lacking in the land of lutefisk. :wink:


Look kids, it’s Big Ben