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Monday, February 6, 2023


Nov. 17, 2001 – According to information provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Resident Inspection Office on St. Croix for release Nov. 14, 2001, the Coast Guard has waived "STCW" requirements for inspected small passenger and other vessels of less than 200 gross tons sailing on a domestic voyage.
Following is information about the change provided by the Coast Guard in question-and-answer format:
Recently the Coast Guard on St. Thomas and St. Croix have received several questions regarding who is required to meet the requirements for The International Code on Standards for Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers that came into force in 1978 (STCW-78). The U.S. licensing scheme was designed to conform closely to STCW-78. The 1995 amendments to the Code (STCW-95) added more "hands-on" demonstrations of your skill and ability to prove that you are qualified to serve aboard seagoing vessels.
The biggest change with STCW-95 is that it formalizes the documentation of your ability to perform these tasks.
1. Who is required to meet the requirements of STCW-95?
STCW-95 applies to all present and future mariners who wish to sail beyond the boundary lines of the United States on commercial vessels. (The "boundary lines" essentially separate the bays, harbors and other inland waters from the oceans. In the U.S. we have exempted mariners from STCW requirements who serve on small passenger vessels inspected under subchapters T and K and other vessels of less than 200 gross tons sailing on voyages which begin and end in a U.S. port. This is known as a domestic voyage).
2. Is any STCW-95 enforcement deferred?
A new interim policy applies only to U.S. mariners serving on vessels in near coastal domestic trades on vessels of 200 or more gross register tons. Beginning Feb. 1, 2002, the Coast Guard will defer enforcement of the requirement for these mariners to hold an STCW-95 certificate until Feb. 1, 2003, to more effectively manage the demand for immediate issuance of STCW credentials. Even though many STCW-78 certificates are endorsed to expire on Feb. 1, 2002, the Coast Guard will defer action on those certificates held by mariners employed in near coastal domestic trades.
3. How do I provide documentation of my compliance with STCW-95 requirements?
Completing a Coast Guard approved training course may be the least-complicated way to meet the additional STCW-95 qualification requirements. You also may demonstrate your knowledge and ability for STCW-"covered" tasks before a designated examiner. This is an individual qualified to observe your performance and assess your competence. (This process is in the early stages of development and may not be available to you yet.)
4. What does STCW-95 certification consist of?
If you meet the requirements of STCW-95, you will be issued an STCW 95 Endorsement Form or Certificate. Your present license or document is a separate credential from this form. You may still maintain your license or document without it; however, if you do this, you essentially will be limited to "domestic only" employment.
5. How does STCW-95 apply to an "existing mariner"?
If you began training or service prior to Aug. 1, 1998, then you have one-time "gap-closing" requirements to meet prior to Feb. 1, 2002. You may upgrade your license or document (and obtain the STCW-95 form) prior to this date under the current U.S. regulations without meeting the additional requirements of STCW-95; however, you only will be issued the STCW-78 form. The additional requirements still apply if you want the STCW-95 form. After Jan. 31, 2002, you will be required to meet fully the requirements of STCW-95 and obtain the STCW-95 form.
6. How does STCW-95 apply to a "new mariner"?
If you began training or service on or after Aug. 1, 1998, then you must be part of an organized training program approved by the Coast Guard in order to obtain the STCW-95 certification.
7. What are my responsibilities as an owner or operator?
If you own or operate a seagoing, U.S.-documented, self-propelled vessel, Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations Part 15 requires that:
A. Crew members serving aboard your vessels hold appropriate STCW certification.
B. Your vessels be adequately manned.
C. You keep records of crew experience, training, competency and medical fitness.
D. You provide ship-specific familiarization and coordination training or instruction to the crew.
See answer to Question 1 on exemptions and to Question 2 on deferred enforcement.
8. What are my responsibilities as the master of a vessel?
If you are the master of a vessel that operates beyond the boundary line (seagoing), you must ensure not only that you have obtained STCW certification, but also that your crew members have, as well. In addition, Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 15 requires that:
A. You ensure observance of the principles concerning watchkeeping set out in STCW regulation VIII/2 and section A-VIII-2 of the STCW Code.
B. You ensure observance of appropriate rest periods and work hours and post watch schedules where they are easily accessible.
C. Your watch schedules must take into account rest requirements as well as port rotations and changes in the vessel's itinerary.
See answer to Question 1 on exemptions and to Question 2 on deferred enforcement.
9. Who can I contact with more questions?
Telephone the U.S. Coast Guard at 772-5557 on St. Croix or 776-3497 on St. Thomas, or visit the Coast Guard STCW web page.

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