Major USCG Licensing Changes Afoot

11 January 2010 By Staff Report

The New Year may bring sweeping changes to USCG licensing qualifications, which will affect the 200, 500 and 1600 GRT Mate and Master’s licenses as well as bring big changes to engineer officer endorsements.

If the proposed amendments are made, 500 GRT Mate and Master licenses will no longer be issued. The Coast Guard cites a “limited need” for this level of endorsement as the reason. Another major change eliminates the possibility of upgrading from a 200 or 500 ton Master directly to 1600 GRT Master; candidates first will have to hold a 1600 GRT/3000 GT Mate OICNW license.

The U.S. Coast Guard has proposed the changes to bring the credentialing of U.S. mariners fully in line with the STCW Convention and STCW Code. In June 1997, the USCG published an interim rule (IR) making credentialing regulation changes in order to implement the STCW Convention (which went into force on February 1, 1997), reducing the possibility that U.S. ships could be detained for non-compliance in a foreign port. This latest set of changes represents an update to the 1997 IR and reflects the experience gained since then.

The rulemaking is not happening without your input however. A public meeting will be held in Washington, DC on January 20, 2010, which Dockwalk’s licensing guru “Ask Amy,” Amy Beavers, will be participating in. In addition, there is a comment period going on now until February 16, so there is just over a month left to have your say. All comments will be posted without changes at

The 90-page Federal Register of November 17, 2009, outlines all of the intricacies of these proposed changes and we encourage you to read the document and comment as it not only affects individuals, but the yachting industry as a whole. Read it at:

For more detail on how the proposed changes will affect yacht captains and crew, read the Ask Amy column in the February 2010 issue of Dockwalk, which hits the docks on January 22.