Vessel Stability Training Requirements and Criteria

21 November 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.. 

Stability and vessel construction topics are increasingly important as yachts grow in size and complexity. As with virtually all aspects of our industry, there are regulations that pertain to the vessel, systems, and crew. Under the STCW Code, the USCG NVICs and U.S. CFRs, and the MCA MIN/MSN CoC guidance, there are very clear training and assessment criteria for both the operational and management level of mariners.

For those seeking their MCA Master of Yachts for yachts <500gt/3000gt CoC, there’s an intensive five-day course over a minimum of 30 hours with a 2.5-hour exam at the end. This course requirement, which has more than 13 topics, typically covers info that include the basic principles of stability, vessel list and related problems, stability curves of statical stability, vessel angle of loll, longitudinal stability, and the concerns during dry docking.

The examination is administered by IAMI on behalf of the MCA and covers each topic discussed. Successful passing is a prerequisite for pursuing the CoC — the current passing mark for this two-part examination is a minimum overall pass mark of 60 percent.

Under the U.S. system, candidates for an OICNW license for vessels of 500gt or greater must meet the training requirements of 46 CFR 11.309 through 11.321 in order to meet the requirements as laid out in the STCW Code Section A-II/1 and 3, and Tables A-II/1 and 3. Those requirements for stability training can be met by successfully completing training and assessments as part of an approved five-day course as well. The training and assessments are very similar to the MCA requirements but go beyond to include more details and assessments on topics for ships’ construction and structure. STCW A-II/2 has additional requirements for raise in grade from the operational to management level licenses; U.S. candidates seeking a raise in grade from the OICNW level to Chief Mate/Master must complete an additional five-day course that includes subjects such as Vessel Trim, Hull Stress, Bending Moment, Damage Stability, Use of Stability Software Programs, and Advanced Calculations. Successful passing of written examinations and assessment tasks is required to pursue these licenses. USCG NVICs 12-14 and 13-14 at the OICNW level, and NVICs 10-14, 11-14, and 03-18 list the tasks that must be successfully completed for STCW endorsements.

Vessel stability is one of the most important subjects to understand and is a vital component to safely operating your vessel. Fuel levels, slack tanks, ballast loading and discharging, weather, large shifts in weight distribution as toys are lifted on and off the vessel or cargo/stores are loaded — all these factors must be taken into account as they affect vessel stability. The STCW Code and the various flag states have established the minimum criteria for those mariners wishing to be responsible for vessel safety. The knowledge you gain is vital to it.

This article originally ran in the June 2022 issue of Dockwalk.


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