Surface Warfare Enhancement Act of 2018

Lots of things to unpack in this legislation, and no idea as to whether it will ever see the light of day, but it does bring back from the dead the idea of a proficiency log (Pro Book) where all hours of watches stood and special evolutions completed must be recorded.

I am working towards licensing myself but haven’t seen anything so onerous on the civilian side. I would be interested to hear how the mariners out there track their proficiency and how that plays into licensing. Also, how working across different platforms is managed when there is only one license. In the Navy, an OOD qualified on a destroyer would have to get requalified if they were transferred to an amphibious ship where well deck ops were performed. As best as I understand it, a 3/m AGT could do a tour on a container ship, then a Ro/Ro, then a tanker. How about for engineering? The Navy operates diesels, gas turbines, and steam. Can a 3/ae bounce from plant to plant?

I am interested in listening, I don’t have a agenda to defend. Thanks.

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The short answer is yes he can if his license says he is good for the plant he is on (steam, diesel, gas turbine). The license (hopefully) insures the person has a basic set of skills/knowledge. In joining a new ship he will be expected to become familiar with the tasks entrusted to him. If he is on a good ship there will be a program to help get him up to speed but nonetheless he is expected to have the basics.

Years ago I got a 2nd job that required me to fly to Houston. I got on board around midnight and was called at 0400 to go on watch for a berth shift. That first watch was rough but learned the ship well in fairly short order.

Restrictions with regards to working across different platforms is mostly not managed by the license. Companies are going to look at the resume, even the union hall job call systems can have requirements for classes.

As far as the learning curve, having a good grasp of the principles helps as Chief Seadog says, in general a good EQ helps, this is particularly true going from military to commercial.

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Everyone here can provide an example of an exception but for the most part proficiency is directly connected to job security. Incompetent people generally don’t last very long because there is no crowd for them to hide behind.

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I was kind of thinking the same thing. 15 years with the same company. I’ve got to be doing something right.

I think the OP is asking about such things as PIC for tankers and TOAR for towing, How are the qualifications tracked for different types of vessels?

I can’t think of any license requirements of that type except those two. Everything else is company or charterer requirements.

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I see the future, and it looks like Big Navy turning its 10,000 mile screwdriver and centralizing management of qualifications. Right now qualifications for OOD, EOOW, etc. reside with individual COs, and the argument is that makes ~275 individual standards. I don’t foresee a day where an officer can show up with a generic OOD letter and be expected to not have to do a platform-specific qualification, but I am curious to know how things were managed on the other side.

While admittedly now 8 years removed from towing fuel barges; I seem to remember a minimum requirement of trips needing to be met in order to avoid a Pilot if moving petroleum on an inland waterway. I believe a grounding and subsequent spill in Buzzards Bay is what fostered the requirement. I, myself logged every move on my own in the event anyone asked the question, I had documentation.

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The Nautical Institute is also trying to implement more logbook entries. They already require it for DP Operators but now they are asking all members to record shiphandling experience.

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This is the case on the merchant side as well. Vessel familiarization training is carried out as soon as possible after sign on with all crew members. Bridge navigation equipment familiarization training is handled with new watch officers and if you are a fully ECDIS compliant ship there is type specific training for that as well. Engine room familiarization is given to new engine officers etc.

This is all mostly done on a professional honor system versus logs. You ask the new 3/M if hey have ever worked with this type of radar, gps, steering system, etc. You give them a basic overview on critical functions and then It is their responsibility to take the initiative in getting up to speed on anything they are unfamiliar with. I tell new mates and cadets that I will feel a lot more comfortable with them if I come up to to the wheelhouse on the day they sign on and they are standing at the console with the manual open. It tells me they are a professional and here to do a good job. The biggest difference I can see with the navy is that the new officer will usually be required to use the equipment underway within 24 hours of joining. Often times it closer to less than 12 hours.

It is not a perfect system but most professional mariners are adept at adapting quickly to a new vessel.


Another point in military/commercial worlds is that deep-sea in particular it’s mostly the junior mates and engineers that jump around. The senior officers are far more likely to be in a position where they return to the same ship.


It works because in the real world, ships must move and cargo delivered for the livelihood of all. The surface Navy doesn’t train or produce mariners anymore. The bubble heads seem to have a good system going. The brown shoes seem to also have a good training and quality control system in place. Hell, even the Army has a better ship driver training/quality program than the surface Navy.

Does this act mean the Navy is finally admitting it has a problem?

The Navy’s been admitting it has a sorta-maybe problem for a few years now, but all anyone ever did was hem and haw about looking at this thing or that thing or maybe this or maybe that.

It took the recent deaths for people to actually look and go “Oh shit this is a real problem and people are dying, we need to actually do something about it.”

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I read a lot more stories about US flagged tugs, barges, ships, OSV’s, passenger vessels etc. having fires, collisions & deaths compared to the US Navy. I admitt there’s a possibility that many US Navy accidents don’t get reported on by the media but statistically speaking, perhaps the Navy guys have a better safety record than us Merchant Mariners? Isn’t the US Navy fleet larger than our US commercial fleet? I don’t think having the US Navy mimic our commercial vessels will help them much but it shouldn’t hurt much either. I think it boils down to the American taxpayers holding the US Navy to a higher standard because we are forced to foot the bills. So we are willing to try anything to get stupid accidents down to zero.

I don’t know exact numbers. I may be way way off, but my recollection is:

US Navy ships = 400

US ships >1600 GRT = 70

US tug, barge, and misc. fleet = 10,000+


Navy ships catch fire all the time(mostly small ‘C’ fires), but you almost never hear about it because the fires don’t get big. There’s a mantra in the Navy that “everyone’s a firefighter”, which I think they say civilian side too.

The difference is, when the Navy has a fire or is combating a flooding casualty, we’re throwing up to three HUNDRED people at it, and that’s for one of the smaller CG/DDGs. Fire team is getting low on air or tired? No problem, you can man up another one no problem. Need three or more hose teams? Also no problem.

As a result, most fires and casualties in the Navy don’t get past the initial stage, since we just throw everything at it from the start and stop it before it can get anywhere near out of control. There are exceptions to this of course when it didn’t quite work like that(The GW fire comes to mind instantly for a recentish example). You’ll never see the small ones in the media.

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Not to mention there are over 50,000 registered commercial ships globally.

It’s like I can see the future. :roll_eyes:

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The STCW assessments are something similar to that. At least it’s not leaving OICNW qualification up to the whim of the master. Merchant vessels also do a lot fewer “special evolutions” than the Navy, barring MSC anyway.