USCG Update: 2020 Guidance for License Renewal

9 December 2020 By Ted Morley

Capt. Ted Morley was raised aboard a schooner and has made a career working on board vessels ranging from superyachts to super tankers. During his tenure at sea, he worked his way up from seaman to master. He currently holds a USCG Master’s License, Unlimited Tonnage as well as several foreign certificates. Capt. Morley actively participates in maritime advisory committees in the U.S. as well as overseas and is involved in regulatory policy review in the U.S.. 

This year has brought challenges to the regulatory landscape for mariners on yachts and commercial vessels alike. Blended learning and deferred requirements still exist for many flag states, but more mariners are experiencing backlogs in updating or renewing credentials.

While the USCG has eased the renewal process and extended license expirations for mariners this year, many countries haven’t. In August, the USCG issued a Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) that outlined guidance for mariners with credentials that expired this year. The USCG has consulted with the IMO and other administrations to ensure alignment for the extension of endorsements issued in accordance with the Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, as amended (STCW) and are taking a pragmatic approach consistent with the IMO Secretary General’s circular Letter No.4204/Add.5 dated March 17, 2020. 

There’ve been a number of changes that affect operations, manning, and environmental issues this year.

Some of these changes affect the renewal process. MSIB 08-20 provides extensions on national and SCTW credentials, along with medical endorsements, and was recently updated with Change 4 to provide an additional extension to applicable mariner credentials as a number of RECs have been closed and the USCG recognizes how that impacts the renewal process.

New updates to the requirements for STCW courses and yacht courses such as the AEC 1 and AEC 2 programs this year require mariners to stay informed of what those changes are so they can ensure they are compliant when it comes time to renew or upgrade. The MCA has also issued guidance in MIN 620 for the latest information on the delivery of oral exams. It’s important for mariners (whose credentials are expiring this year) to discuss their renewal options with career counselors familiar with the regulatory changes as there are very specific requirements that must be carried out in order to continue to work on an expired credential. Mariners pursuing renewal or upgrading of their credentials should visit their respective flag state websites. They should also make an appointment at a school to discuss how best to schedule the right classes, and what classes can be deferred to later.

There’ve been a number of changes that affect operations, manning, and environmental issues this year. For example, USCG NVIC 01-16 details major changes for the requirement for domestic inland operators regarding the use of electronic charts and publications in lieu of paper charts. To keep you informed on international regulatory changes, a future article will outline a few major changes 2020 saw with SOLAS and MARPOL, as those changes are very broad and affect a range of operations across the globe.

This article originally ran in the December 2020 issue of Dockwalk.


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