Mind the Gap: STCW Compliance Update, Senior Citizen Version

By Joseph Keefe 01-20-2011 02:32:11

Just after pulling the trigger on my editorial entitled, “You Bet I’m Going Back to Sea,” I had a short telephone conversation with Glen Paine, the Executive director of MITAGS. I said to him, “I guess it’s too late to back out now, especially now that I’ve announced it to tens of thousands of readers.” He paused and then deadpanned, “I would think so.” We both had a good laugh, but in the week that followed, I spent a lot of time hitting the “send/receive” button on my E-mail in-box, awaiting the edict on my documents. That news finally came in last week, signaling the end of what is likely to be the easy part (at least for me) of the journey.

Andy Hammond, a former REC Chief in Boston and now principal of his own consulting firm, has given me my preliminary laundry list. From my perspective, the journey looks daunting. Hammond tells me that, in order to receive an STCW-95 endorsement, I’ll need to “activate” my license, along with taking some courses to satisfy the STCW-95 amendments. And, he says, “While you took many courses over your career, I don’t believe any of them will satisfy the STCW-95 requirements for the “gap closing” policies.” Swell.

Those of you following along should note that the summary below refers to MY document situation, not yours. And, as they in the television commercials, “individual results may vary.” Here is how it looks so far:

Activation of the license will require:

•Physical Exam;
•Drug Free certification;
•Open Book Renewal Exercise (will be provided by the REC);
•$50 evaluation fee + $45 open book exam fee (you would then send the issue fees back with the renewal exams); and
•Passport photos for the MMD and STCW-95. (*)

(*) I have an MMD that I recently got with my license.

For STCW-95 gap closing/full “activation”:

•Radar Observer-unlimited: Renewal Course-1 day;
•Basic Safety Training (BST);
•Bridge Resource Management Course-CG/STCW approved course;
•GMDSS Course (required to sail on a vessel operating under the GMDSS system, all seagoing, commercial vessels 350 GRT or more are required to operate in this system;
•Medical First Aid Provider (STCW approved). All OICNW and above need to have this level of training under STCW;
•STCW “refresher” course. Andy says that this is the one that not many are aware of. Coast Guard Policy Letter 02-03 (January 11, 2003) notes that you need to complete an approved refresher course. They are generally 2-3 day courses.

So, off we go. I’ve started running again and have so far not required any medical intervention, although the urge to speed up to try and stay with people (who just don’t look all that healthy, darn it) that seem to glide by me without breaking a sweat, is maddening. Looking ahead, the prospect of the medical training course is also not something I am necessarily looking forward to. I’m not much for blood and the whole “needle” thing.

It looks like I will be starting with the Medical Course at MITAGS and then follow that with the BST course. Actually, I told Andy Hammond that I’d like to begin with something I know I can pass: the drug test. He didn’t laugh. In any event, as space in the various courses open up and I can fit them into my schedule, I’ll be trying to satisfy those requirements, as well. As my 50th birthday looms large in the windshield, I’m also announcing my intention to apply for my AARP card, which I am told will open the door to untold benefits and discounts. The excitement continues.

Next Update: No further updates are planned until I’ve actually completed at least one STCW requirement. Look for another installment in Late April. - MarEx

Joseph Keefe is the Managing Editor of THE MARITIME EXECUTIVE. He can be reached at jkeefe@maritime-executive.com with questions or comments on this or any other article in this newsletter.