Radar observer renewal

In 2009 I took a radar course and got the radar observer endorsement added to my
200 ton ticket when I renewed that year. I took a refresher radar course before I renewed in 2014, and the radar endorsement was renewed. In 2019, it was renewed without my having to take a refresher course. I’m now in the process of renewing again, and the evaluator has given me three options to have the radar endorsement renewed: take the refresher course again, OR show experience as an instructor, OR have 365 days using radar onboard vessels. I wrote back that all my qualifying sea time was on vessels equipped with radar, and that I used radar
every day as a navigational aid. That was two months ago. Communication with NMC has been bad. On follow up, I was told that they received a ‘statement’ from me, but that is all the info I can get from them. I was notified yesterday that they are awaiting info, and will withdraw my application if it is not received in thirty days. I was given the option to proceed with the renewal without the radar endorsement. They obviously not accepting my statement. Am I missing something?

If the vessel was not required to have a radar, you probably need more than your personal statement. It should probably come from the same persons/entities authorized to write sea service letters.

If you think you have provided adequate evidence, you can request reconsideration of their decision. If you want to pursue this, tell them you want a RECONSIDERATION (use that word) of their decision you have not provided sufficient evidence to issue the endorsement. This will also stop the clock on the “awaiting information” period.

You need signed sea service letters attesting to the radar use. Your own statement means nothing.

Making sure the format on the sea time letter includes that the vessels are radar equipped helps. Especially if, as was mentioned previously, the vessels are not required to have Radar.

Also making sure the letter includes a phrase about working 12 hour days, if you do, and being enrolled in the companies random drug screening program for at least the last six months help avoid some worries too.

Many offices know this, but not all and it doesn’t hurt to chat cordially with the person writing the letter to avoid headaches down the road.

There are virtually no vessels left that do Not have radar. It would be extremely rare for anyone to renew a license with seatime from a vessel not equipped with radar.

NMC should put out a NAVIC that it will be assumed that all vessels have radar unless seatime letters state otherwise. Also, that owners of vessels without radar must disclose that on seatime letters.

What the NMC is doing is akin to wanting confirmation that a car has wheels.

This petty bureaucratic bullshit of nitpicking seatime letters for magic words and perfection is a perfect example of why NMC cannot get anything done, and does a great disservice to taxpayers, fee paying mariners, regulated owners, and the public.


Like the others have said, you need to inform whomever is writing your sentiment letters to include that the vessel is equipped with radar on the letter.

Similarly, owners are required to have random drug testing programs and do pre-employment and post incident drug tests. Owners must fire and report mariners who refuse drug tests.

Mariners must present a fresh drug test or a letter confirming that he is, and has been, in a testing program.

It’s usually much easier to just go get a fresh drug test.

There is no reason why a seatime letter needs to state that the mariner was in a drug testing program and that he did not refuse to take any tests.

It’s hard enough for a mariner to get a seatime letter out of a former employer. It can be nearly impossible to get a former employer to fix mistakes in a seatime letter.

Seatime letters and drug testing should be completely separate.

Why? If I can ask the person in the office to send me one letter, how is it easier to just go get another drug test?


It’s easier to walk into a nearby clinic and walk out with a fresh test for a few dollars, and get an emailed lab report a couple days later, than it is to wait for someone to find time to write and send a letter. Especially, if I’m not in a place where I can receive snail mail.

Any company that’s required to have a drug testing program should have this letter on hand and be able to fill in the 4 pieces of required info in about 5 minutes and email it off.

I don’t know the last time I waited for a snail mail version. The office emails it to me and I email that off to the NMC.


Ask to have it emailed to you then.

My current mid-sized employer says to allow two weeks for HR to fill a request for a seatime letter.

Well, that seems overly excessive on their part.

But, at the same time, you should know more than two weeks ahead of when you need it.

Possible sea letter considerations:

First recommend is for deck department mariners look at their sea letters and see if they represent the information need by the Coast Guard to demonstrate continued competency and advance your career.

The following are key elements required by regulations and recommendations.

• The amount and nature (e.g. chief mate, assistant engineer, etc.) of the applicant’s experience. Applicable dates of service for each vessel. 46 CFR 10.232
• Includes training and experience associated with navigational watchkeeping functions and involves the performance of duties carried out under the supervision of the master, mate, or qualified STCW deck rating. RFPNW 12.605
• Serving as Apprentice Mate (Steersman) and route. ASM 11.465
• Documenting 12-hour day service based on employment requirements or has been authorized by the United States Coast Guard, per vessel manning requirements. 46 CFR 10.107 as per COI.
• Documenting ongoing participation in training and drills relevant to company policy or regulations. Fishing vessels 46 CFR 28.270 or yachts, recreation vessels and etc.

• Documenting ongoing participation in radom drug testing relevant to company policy and regulations. 46 CFR 16.230 (k)

• Documenting the routinely ongoing use of radar by a mariner for navigation and collision avoidance purposes on vessels.46 CFR 11.480(g) & USCG Policy Letter 03-19.

• Vessels less than 1600 tons provision where mariner serves as “acting as pilot” in accordance with 46 CFR 15.812 (b) (2)

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Also, break down service by capacity and route. Don’t get a letter that says “served as deckhand, mate and Captain on inland, near coastal and ocean routes” and doesn’t break it down any further.


Based on the information provided in this thread. It now becomes having a discussion and sharing what your sea letter should look like with those writing your letters.

Realize in some cases to get what you want, you may have to write out a rough letter for the owners or HR in certain situations.

Once again thanks Mr. Cavo.