Updating Master’s for STCW Compliance

10 January 2022 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.. 

Some of the most popular licenses in the U.S. are the 100-Ton Master’s Licenses. It’s used on yachts, water taxis, excursion vessels, dive boats, and others. We see many recreational boaters get it for decreased insurance requirements, increased skill, knowledge, and the ability to work part-time on yachts or commercial vessels. Remember, a commercial mariner is anyone being paid to work on the vessel. That means if you’re paid to skipper a 50-foot yacht from Fort Lauderdale to Isla Mujeres, legally you’re a commercial mariner on an international voyage and the Mexican Port State Control inspectors could ask you to produce your STCW Master’s credentials. The U.S. National license is issued as a “domestic waters only” credential as all licenses for international voyages must be STCW-compliant for commercial mariners. Thankfully, there’s a process for endorsing your Domestic Master’s license to become STCW-compliant. The specific requirements for sea time and training are outlined under the STCW II/3- Master less than 500 GT, and the USCG NVIC 13-14.

The specific requirements for sea time and training are outlined under the STCW II/3- Master less than 500 GT, and the USCG NVIC 13-14.

U.S. Mariners seeking to obtain STCW endorsement for their license need to comply with CFR 46 11.317, 11.201, 10.301/302, and 11.302. Some assessments are required, which are outlined in USCG NVIC 13-14. The STCW stipulates minimum training requirements that sometimes differ from the National or Domestic Endorsement; this is true in this case as there are additional training requirements — courses include Medical First Aid Provider, Advanced Fire Fighting, Proficiency in Survival Craft & Rescue Boats, and Basic Training within five years. There are optional training courses, but these are only required if you’re serving on a vessel with this equipment. Radar training isn’t required but Assessments 1.8.A and 1.8.B are.

Sea service requirements are straightforward: you must have a minimum of 360 sea service days under authority of your national license as the Officer in Charge of a Navigational Watch. If you’ve been sailing as a mate, then you must have the full 360 days. If you’ve been sailing as Master, then you need only provide an additional 180 days. The specific requirements are outlined in Table 1 to CFR 46 11.317(d) and provide guidance for sea service, training, and assessment of competence.

For U.S. mariners seeking work on vessels that travel internationally, you must understand the STCW Code and the laws you’re operating under. Check with your school’s career counselors or the USCG for guidance.

This article originally ran in the September 2021 issue of Dockwalk.


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