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Rule

Implementation of the Amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, and Changes to National Endorsements

Action

Final Rule.

Summary

The Coast Guard issues this final rule to implement the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, as amended (STCW Convention), as well as the Seafarers' Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Code (STCW Code), to address the comments received from the public in response to the supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM), and to incorporate the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention that came into force on January 1, 2012. In addition, this final rule makes other changes not required by the STCW Convention or Code, but necessary to reorganize, clarify, and update these regulations.

Unified Agenda

Implementation of the 1995 Amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW) for Seafarers, 1978

17 actions from August 2nd, 1995 to November 2013

  • August 2nd, 1995
  • September 29th, 1995
    • Supplemental NPRM Comment Period End
  • November 13th, 1995
  • January 12th, 1996
    • Comment Period End
  • March 26th, 1996
  • April 8th, 1996
  • July 24th, 1996
    • NPRM Comment Period End
  • February 4th, 1997
  • June 26th, 1997
  • July 28th, 1997
    • Interim Final Rule Effective
  • November 17th, 2009
  • February 16th, 2010
    • NPRM Comment Period End
  • March 23rd, 2010
  • August 1st, 2011
  • August 2nd, 2011
  • September 30th, 2011
    • Supplemental NPRM Comment Period End
  • November 2013
    • Final Rule
 

Table of Contents Back to Top

Tables Back to Top

DATES: Back to Top

This final rule is effective March 24, 2014 except for 46 CFR part 10, subpart C, which is effective January 23, 2014. The incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in the rule is approved by the Director of the Federal Register on March 24, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Back to Top

Comments and material received from the public, as well as documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, are part of docket USCG-2004-17914 and are available for inspection or copying at the Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, D.C. 20590,between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. You may also find this docket on the Internet by going to http://www.regulations.gov, inserting USCG-2004-17914 in the “Keyword” box, and then clicking “Search.”

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Back to Top

If you have questions on this rule, call or email Mr. Mark C. Gould, Maritime Personnel Qualifications Division, Coast Guard; phone (202) 372-1409; email mark.c.gould@uscg.mil. If you have questions on viewing the docket, call Renee V. Wright, Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone 202-366-9826.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Back to Top

Table of Contents for Preamble Back to Top

I. Executive Summary

A. Basis and purpose

B. Summary for major provisions

C. Costs and benefits

II. Abbreviations

III. Regulatory History

IV. Overview

V. Tables of Changes

VI. Discussion of Comments and Explanation of Changes

A. Summary of changes from the SNPRM

B. Public comments on the SNPRM

C. Discussion of Public Comments in Response to the Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee (MERPAC) and the Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee (MEDMAC) Recommendations

D. Additional Request for Comments

VII. Incorporation by Reference

VIII.Regulatory Analyses

A. Regulatory Planning and Review

B. Small Entities

C. Assistance for Small Entities

D. Collection of Information

E. Federalism

F. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

G. Taking of Private Property

H. Civil Justice Reform

I. Protection of Children

J. Indian Tribal Governments

K. Energy Effects

L. Technical Standards

M. Environment

I. Executive Summary Back to Top

A. Basis and purpose

The United States has a well-established program for credentialing personnel serving on U.S. vessels that is governed by domestic law in United States Code, titles 5, 14, 33 and 46, and Code of Federal Regulations, title 46, subchapter B. Through these domestic statutes and regulations, the United States also implements the provisions of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, as amended.

The STCW Convention and Code set forth minimum training and certification requirements for merchant mariners. The IMO adopted amendments to the STCW in 1995. Those amendments entered into force on February 1, 1997. The Coast Guard implemented those amendments through an interim rule revising 46 CFR subchapter B, which published on June 26, 1997 (62 FR 34505). The Convention was subsequently amended in 2002 and 2007.

In 2008, the IMO embarked on a comprehensive review of the entire STCW Convention and the STCW Code, which sets forth provisions for implementing the STCW Convention. Five meetings were held at IMO headquarters in London on the comprehensive review, at which the Coast Guard represented the U.S. and the draft 2010 amendments to the Convention were developed. The Coast Guard held public meetings prior to each one of the IMO review meetings to determine what positions U.S. delegations should advocate and to exchange views about amendments to STCW that were under discussion. In addition, the Coast Guard also obtained input from MERPAC on developments and implementation of the requirements relating to the 2010 amendments. After completing its review, the IMO adopted these amendments on June 25, 2010, at the STCW Diplomatic Conference in Manila, Philippines. They entered into force for all ratifying countries on January 1, 2012.

The STCW Convention is not self-implementing; therefore, the United States, as a signatory to the STCW Convention, must initiate regulatory changes to ensure compliance with its treaty obligations through full implementation of the amendments to the STCW Convention and STCW Code. Accordingly, the Coast Guard is amending 46 CFR subchapter B to: Fully harmonize and incorporate the requirements for national licenses with those of the STCW Convention; to incorporate the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention that came into force on January 1, 2012; and to make other changes not required by the STCW Convention that are necessary to reorganize, clarify, and update those regulations. A discussion of the 2010 amendments implemented in this final rule is available in the preamble of the SNPRM (76 FR 45908).

All signatories to the STCW Convention are presumed to be fulfilling their obligations under the Convention and, by publishing and implementing this final rule, the U.S. is joining the other signatories, including, but not limited to, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The U.S. is also ensuring that the U.S. remains on the IMO “White List” of countries giving the Convention full and complete effect. Inclusion on this list entitles U.S.-flag vessels to equal treatment under foreign nation port state control procedures, and enables U.S. mariners to compete in the global workforce. This final rule also ensures that U.S. mariner credentialing requirements are consistent with international standards. Additionally, the rule strengthens U.S. authority to enforce the STCW Convention and STCW Code against foreign flag vessels in U.S. waters.

Parties to the STCW Convention have port state control authority to detain vessels that do not comply with the Convention. If U.S. regulations are non-compliant with the STCW Convention and STCW Code, there is a risk that U.S. vessels will be detained in foreign ports and that U.S. mariners not in compliance with the STCW Convention would be ineligible to serve on foreign flag vessels.

Over 90 percent of ships visiting U.S. waters are foreign-flag carrying multinational crews, and are subject to STCW. Additionally, approximately 1044 U.S. documented commercial vessels operate on ocean or near coastal voyages and are subject to the provisions of STCW. Implementation and enforcement of the STCW requirements promote shipboard practices that reduce the risk of human errors that could potentially lead to an accident in U.S. waters.

B. Summary of Major Provisions

This section lists the major provisions in this final rule. Both a summary and a detailed explanation of the reasons for changes from the SNPRM can be found in Section VI of this preamble, Discussion of Comments. All of the changes below were made to the rule as proposed in the SNPRM in response to comments from the public, MERPAC, or MEDMAC.

The Coast Guard is publishing this final rule to implement amendments to the STCW Code, including the 2010 amendments, and ensure that the U.S. is meeting its obligations under the Convention. In addition, the Coast Guard is issuing this final rule to respond to the comments, feedback, and concerns received from the public in response to the SNPRM. In order to address those comments and concerns, the final rule will: Clarify transitional provisions for STCW endorsements and for the issuance of medical certificates; provide additional training topics for STCW endorsements as part of approved formal training; remove the new apprentice mate (steersman) of towing (utility), master of towing (utility) and master of towing (harbor assist) endorsements; clarify the application of security requirements; grant sea service credit towards STCW endorsements for mariners who hold a national endorsement but serve on STCW compliant vessels; provide additional means for mariners holding a domestic tankerman endorsement to qualify for STCW tankerman endorsements; clarify the course approval provisions; and include compliance with industry-wide systems, such as International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Safety Management (ISM), as an alternate means of compliance with the Quality Standards System (QSS) provisions.

C. Costs and Benefits

The changes between the SNPRM and this final rule do not result in additional impacts to the maritime industry except for the transitional provision that delays the implementation of the QSS requirements until January 1, 2017. This provision was included in this final rule based on the public comments received on the SNPRM and will delay the cost impact of QSS requirements to training providers. For a detailed discussion of comments, the changes, and their additional impacts, please see “Regulatory Analyses,” section VIII, of the preamble.

Table 1—Summary of Affected Population, Costs and Benefits Back to Top
Category Final rule
1Includes all mariners to which STCW applies, which is limited to voyages beyond the boundary line.
Affected Population 60,000 U.S. mariners1; 316 owners and operators of 1,044 U.S. flag vessels; and 141 STCW training providers.
Costs($ millions, 7-percent discount rate) $32.6 (annualized).
$230.3 (10-year)
Benefits • Increase in vessel safety and a resulting decrease in the risk of shipping casualties and their consequences (fatalities, injuries, property loss and environmental damage).
• Prevention and mitigation of accidents on STCW Convention-compliant foreign vessels in U.S. waters due to increased ability of the Coast Guard to enforce requirements. See Executive Summary for additional information.
• Increase in mariners' situational awareness and situational assessment.
• Reduction of potential impacts of medical conditions on human error.
• Earlier detection and treatment of medical conditions.
• Fulfillment of U.S. obligations under the STCW Convention.
• Maintenance of U.S. status on the IMO “White List” and avoidance of detention of U.S. flagged vessels in foreign ports due to noncompliance with the STCW Convention.
• Assurance that U.S. mariners can compete in the global workforce market.
• Assurance that U.S. credentialing regulations are consistent with international performance standards based on international consensus and the IMO convention, which minimizes variation in standards of training and watchkeeping.

II. Abbreviations Back to Top

ABETAccreditation Board for Engineering and Technology

A/BAble seaman

ATBArticulated tug barge vessel

AGTAny gross tons

BRMBridge resource management

BSTBasic safety training

BTBasic training

COICertificate of inspection

CPRCardiopulmonary resuscitation

DDEDesignated duty engineer

DEDesignated examiner

DHSDepartment of Homeland Security

DMEDesignated medical examiner

DOTU.S. Department of Transportation

DPDynamic positioning

DPODynamic positioning officer

ECDISElectronic chart display and information system

EOOWEngineering officer of the watch

ERMEngineroom resource management

ETOElectro-technical officer

FRFederal Register

FSDFunctional speech discrimination

FWTFireman/Watertender

GMDSSGlobal maritime distress and safety system

GRTGross register tonnage

GTGross tonnage

HPHorsepower

HSCHigh-speed craft

ILOInternational Labour Organization

IMOInternational Maritime Organization

IRInterim rule

ISMInternational Safety Management

ISPSInternational Ship and Port Facility Security

ISOInternational Organization for Standardization

ITBIntegrated tug-barge

ITCInternational Tonnage Convention

KUPsKnowledge, understanding, and proficiencies

MARADU.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration

MERPACMerchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee

MMCMerchant mariner credential

MMDMerchant mariner's document

MEDMACMerchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee

MODUMobile offshore drilling unit

NMCNational Maritime Center

NPRMNotice of proposed rulemaking

NVICNavigation Vessel Inspection Circular

OCMIOfficer in charge, marine inspection

OICEWOfficer in charge of an engineering watch

OICNWOfficer in charge of a navigational watch

OIMOffshore installation manager

OPA 90 Oil Pollution Act of 1990

OSRVOil spill response vessel

OSVOffshore supply vessel

PICPerson in charge

PSCProficiency in survival craft

QAQualified assessor

QMEDQualified member of the engine department

QSSQuality Standards System

RFPEWRating forming part of an engineering watch

RFPNWRating forming part of a navigational watch

Ro-RoRoll-on/roll-off

SMCPStandard marine communication phrases

SNPRMSupplemental notice of proposed rulemaking

STCW ConventionInternational Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978

STCW CodeSeafarers' Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Code

TRCType rating certificate

TSACTowing safety advisory committee

TOARTowing officer assessment record

TWICTransportation worker identification credential

U.S.C.United States Code

USCGUnited States Coast Guard

VSOVessel security officer

III. Regulatory History Back to Top

The Coast Guard published changes to the regulations governing the credentialing of merchant mariners serving on U.S. flag vessels with an interim rule (IR) on June 26, 1997 (62 FR 34505). The 1997 IR ensured that credentials issued by the U.S. met International Maritime Organization (IMO) standards, thereby reducing the possibility of U.S. vessels being detained in a foreign port for non-compliance.

In 2009, the Coast Guard proposed to update the changes made by the 1997 IR to reflect experience gained during the implementation of that rule. The Coast Guard published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on November 17, 2009 (74 FR 59354). The NPRM sought to incorporate all effective amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978 (STCW Convention) and Seafarers' Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Code (STCW Code) as of that publication date. Five public meetings were held to receive comments on the NPRM. These meetings were announced in the Federal Register on November 18, 2009 (74 FR 59502).

The public comment period for the NPRM ended on February 17, 2010. After considering comments, feedback, and concerns received from the public in response to the NPRM, and due to the adoption of the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention and Code, the Coast Guard recognized a need to make substantial changes to the merchant mariner credentialing program and regulations beyond those proposed in the NPRM. Because of these substantial changes, the Coast Guard recognized the necessity of developing a more comprehensive rule, and of providing additional opportunity, through a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM), for the public to comment on these changes.

The Coast Guard published a notice on March 23, 2010 (75 FR 13715), announcing that we were revisiting the approach proposed in the NPRM and considering publishing an SNPRM as a next step. The notice further explained that the review of the approach was based on feedback received on the NPRM and because of the adoption of the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention. The IMO approved the 2010 amendments at the June Diplomatic Conference, where it was agreed that all provisions of the STCW Convention, including the 2010 amendments, would enter into force by January 1, 2012.

The Coast Guard published an SNPRM on August 1, 2011 (76 FR 45908), providing 2 months for public comment. The SNPRM proposed to make changes to the implementation of the STCW Convention and Code to incorporate the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention that came into force on January 1, 2012, and address the comments received from the public in response to the NPRM. In addition, the SNPRM proposed to make other changes not required by the STCW Convention or Code, but necessary to reorganize, clarify, and update these regulations. Four public meetings were held to receive comments on the SNPRM. These meetings were announced in the Federal Register on August 2, 2011 (76 FR 46217). The comments received during these four meetings are discussed in the “Discussion of Comments” section of this preamble.

On November 3, 2011, the Coast Guard publicly announced the availability of recommendations from MERPAC and the Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee (MEDMAC) concerning the SNPRM and invited public comment (76 FR 68202). The 30-day public comment period closed on December 5, 2011. The comments received in response to these recommendations are also discussed in the “Discussion of Comments” section of this preamble.

On January 4, 2012, the Coast Guard published a notice of policy informing the public that the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention entered into force for all ratifying nations on January 1, 2012 (77 FR 232). The notice also encouraged vessels operating in foreign ports to implement provisions of the 2010 amendments concerning hours of rest and security training to minimize potential port state control detentions.

IV. Overview Back to Top

This final rule is intended to ensure that U.S. mariners comply with the standards set forth in the STCW Convention and Code and to clarify and update the regulations in 46 CFR subchapter B, Merchant Marine Officers and Seamen. As a result of the comments, feedback, and concerns received from the public in response to the SNPRM, the Coast Guard made changes to the proposed regulations.

Most seagoing merchant mariners must comply with the requirements of the STCW Convention and STCW Code. The Coast Guard recognizes that the CFR regulations implementing the STCW Convention and STCW Code requirements have been the subject of different interpretations and that the requirements reflected in the CFR are not currently organized in a manner that is easy to read and understand.

This final rule also revises other sections of 46 CFR subchapter B in order to clarify, address omissions in, and update those regulations.

V. Tables of Changes Back to Top

The following table provides a crosswalk showing changes from the existing regulations to this final rule.

Current cite Cite under final rule Summary of changes
Subchapter B Subchapter B Changes Domestic to National when used to describe endorsements.
The use of “domestic” to describe endorsements that are restricted to United States waters inside the STCW boundary line has been replaced by “national” to avoid confusion when discussing the domestic endorsements of other countries.
§ 10.107 N/A Removes the definition of Apprentice mate (steersman) of towing vessels (utility).
Endorsement has been removed from regulations.
§ 10.107 N/A Removes definition of Competent Person.
Moved relevant information into part 13 to ensure consistency, because “competent person” applies only to endorsements covered in that part.
§ 10.107 N/A Removes the definition of Limited.
Definition is not needed because it has the same meaning as in standard English language usage.
§ 10.107 N/A Removes the definition of Restricted.
Definition is not needed because it has the same meaning as in standard English language usage.
§ 10.107 N/A Removes definition for self-propelled tank vessel.
Eliminates redundancy with the definition of tankship.
§ 10.107 § 10.107 Revises the definition for Coast Guard-accepted.
The definition is being revised to provide clarification on the instances where something may be approved by the Coast Guard for use in meeting a particular requirement.
§ 10.107 § 10.107 Revises definition of Day.
This revised definition will link the definition to the U.S. Code and provide further clarification regarding service on MODUs and cadet service on a maritime training ship within the regulations.
§ 10.107 § 10.107 Revises definition of Designated Examiner (DE).
The definition was revised to ensure that a DE applies to the Towing Officer Assessment Record only, as DE previously applied to all qualification processes.
§ 10.107 § 10.107 Revises definition of Endorsement.
The definition was revised to clarify that all endorsements are listed in § 10.109.
§ 10.107 § 10.107 Revises definition of Inland waters.
The definition was revised to allow sea service credit towards STCW on certain inland vessels.
§ 10.107 § 10.107 Revises the definition of Near-coastal.
Amends to include exceptions for operator of uninspected passenger vessels (OUPVs) in order to formalize a pre-existing exception for OUPVs.
Includes near-coastal waters identified by another country's Administration when entering into a treaty or an agreement with that country.
§ 10.107 § 10.107 Revises definition for Qualified Assessor.
Clarifies this person's role and professional development.
§ 10.109 § 10.109 Revises list of endorsements.
Adds new endorsements in accordance with parts 11 and 12 to ensure that the lists of endorsements are consistent throughout the regulations.
§ 10.205 § 10.205 Revises postdating.
Clarifies and simplifies the postdating process. Postdating will occur unless the applicant specifies otherwise.
§ 10.209, 10.231 § 10.209, 10.231 Adds required documentation for medical examinations.
Adds a medical certificate issued by the Coast Guard.
This serves as documentary proof of passing the medical examination.
§ 10.209, 11.480 § 10.209, 10.480 Electronic submission of required documents.
Allows course completion certificates, including radar observer, to be submitted electronically.
§ 10.215 Part 10, subpart C Transfers medical requirements to a new subpart. Revises the physical requirements for mariners applying for a Coast Guard-issued credential. These changes include: annual submission of physicals by pilots, revision of vision standard, revision of hearing standard, clarification regarding demonstration of physical ability.
Provides the Coast Guard some flexibility in the acceptance of other tests.
The requirement to demonstrate physical ability provides information required for those mariners serving on vessels to which STCW applies.
§ 10.215 § 10.301 Revises medical certificate validity period.
Adds issuance of the new medical certificates with the following period of validity:
(1) 2 years for STCW-endorsed mariners, unless the mariner is under the age of 18, in which case the maximum period of validity would be 1 year;
(2) 2 years for a mariner who is serving as a first-class pilot, or acting as a pilot under § 15.812; and
(3) 5 years for all other mariners, consistent with the current practice and requirements.
§ 10.215 § 10.305 Revises vision requirements.
The 2010 amendments have expanded the applicability of vision standards from one eye to both eyes for deck personnel with STCW endorsements.
§ 10.217 § 10.217 Removes reference to temporary permits.
Formalizes long-standing Coast Guard practice of no longer issuing temporary permits.
§§ 10.227, 10.231 §§ 10.227, 10.231 Revises renewal requirements for credentials.
Removes the requirement to submit an old, original credential in an application for renewal.
This permits mariners to retain their previous credentials.
§ 10.303 § 10.410 Removed Quality Standards System (QSS) requirements from § 10.303 and moved them into a new § 10.410.
Adds QSS information into a new section and adds requirement for training providers to develop a QSS.
This reflects the STCW requirement to use a QSS.
Includes ISM, which is an industry-wide system, as alternate means of compliance for the QSS provision.
Adds implementation date (January 1, 2017) for QSS requirements in accordance with the STCW Convention.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of Able-seafarer deck.
Provides consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of Able-seafarer engine.
Provides consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of Boundary line.
Adding the definition will assist applicants in understanding the limits of the STCW Convention.
N/A § 10.107 Adds definition of Ceremonial license.
Provides mariners an MMC endorsement suitable for framing.
This is in response to mariner demand for a ceremonial license.
N/A § 10.107 Adds definition of Chemical tanker.
Adds definition for the differentiation of dangerous liquids into two endorsements under STCW.
Clarifies the type of vessel on which mariners must serve to qualify for an STCW endorsement for advanced chemical tanker cargo operations.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of a Coast Guard-accepted Quality Standards System (QSS) organization.
Adds definition regarding those organizations that may conduct QSS activities in regard to training, consistent with STCW requirements.
N/A § 10.107 Adds definition of Coastwise Voyage.
To clarify the boundaries of these types of voyages.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of Communicable disease.
Clarifies what a physician should look for when conducting medical examinations.
N/A § 10.107 Adds definition of Deck department.
To clarify the functions of this department.
N/A § 10.107 Adds definition of Designated medical examiner.
To clarify who can give medical examinations to mariners, establishing a network of medical examiners who have demonstrated an understanding of mariner fitness.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of Domestic voyage.
To clarify that domestic service does not include entering foreign waters.
This will assist those operating small passenger vessels in waters close to or adjacent to foreign waters in determining whether the operator would be required to hold an STCW endorsement.
The definition was revised to include voyages beginning and ending at a U.S. port and passing through the waters of another country if the U.S. has entered into a treaty or agreement with that country.
N/A § 10.107 Adds definition of Dual-mode integrated tug barge (ITB).
To clarify what is included in the operations and configuration of this type of ITB.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of Electro-technical officer.
Provides consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of Electro-technical rating.
Provides consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A § 10.107 Adds definition of Engine department.
To clarify the functions of this department.
N/A § 10.107 Adds definition of Gross register tons (GRT).
Provides definition for term used in the proposed rule and establishes an abbreviation for the use of this term throughout this subchapter.
This will help the mariner to readily distinguish between GRT and gross tonnage.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of Gross tonnage (GT).
This will provide consistency with the STCW Convention and simplify the regulations by establishing an abbreviation for use throughout this subchapter.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of High-speed craft type rating.
Adds a definition and requirement for a high-speed craft type rating to be compliant with the high-speed craft code. This puts into regulations existing processes that had previously been completed through Navigation Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) and policy letter.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of ILO.
Establishes an abbreviation for the use of this term throughout this subchapter.
N/A § 10.107 Adds definition of Integrated tug barge.
To specify and make clear the features and capabilities of this type of tug barge combination.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of International Safety Management Code.
This term is referenced in part 10.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of Kilowatt (kW).
To provide clarity and consistency, as the term is used in conjunction with the implementation of the STCW Convention and STCW Code.
N/A § 10.107 Adds definition of Lifeboatman-Limited.
To provide for a new endorsement for persons serving in a position similar to Lifeboatman but on a vessel without a lifeboat.
N/A § 10.107 Adds definition of Liquefied gas tanker.
Adds definition for the change in STCW tanker cargo operations endorsements.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of Management level.
To explain that master, chief mate, chief engineer and first assistant engineer (second engineer officer) are considered management level under the STCW Convention.
N/A § 10.107 Adds definition of Medical certificate.
To describe a new document that serves as proof that a mariner meets the required medical and physical standards.
N/A § 10.107 Adds definition of Officer in Charge of an Engineering Watch (OICEW).
To clarify that this endorsement is at the operational level.
N/A § 10.107 Adds definition of Officer in Charge of a Navigational Watch (OICNW).
To clarify that this endorsement is at the operational level.
N/A § 10.107 Adds definition of Oil tanker.
Adds definition for the differentiation of dangerous liquids into two STCW endorsements.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of Operational level.
Provides that officer endorsements other than management level are considered operational level under the STCW Convention.
This will provide consistency with STCW Convention/Code.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of Periodically unattended engine room.
Provides clarity in the application of the service requirements for engineers.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of Propulsion power.
To provide consistency with the use of the term “propulsion power” in STCW and to encompass methods of measurement, such as horsepower (HP) and kilowatts (kW).
N/A § 10.107 Adds definition of Push-mode ITBs.
To specify what is included in the configuration of this tug barge unit.
N/A § 10.107 Adds definition of Qualified Assessor.
To clarify the qualifications for this type of evaluator.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of Quality Standard System (QSS).
To ensure conformity with STCW requirements for use of a QSS and provide clarification of what is intended by this term when used in this subchapter.
N/A § 10.107 Adds definition of Seagoing service.
Clarify for the mariner what is included in this type of service, including Great Lakes and inland service.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of Seagoing vessel.
To ensure the definition captures all vessels to which STCW Convention and Code apply.
There is no commercial vessels restriction, as appears in the current definition in § 15.1101, because that would have excluded vessels such as yachts and government-owned vessels, which are required to be operated by mariners holding an STCW endorsement.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of Ship.
To provide clarity regarding the types of propulsion modes for these vessels.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of Training program.
To provide clarity regarding what is encompassed within training programs.
N/A § 10.107 Adds the definition of Unlimited.
Clarifies the annotation on an MMC authorizing service on vessels of any tonnage or any propulsion power.
N/A § 10.205(h) Adds provision regarding Document of Continuity.
To explain the process of replacing a Document of Continuity with an MMC.
N/A § 10.209 Adds ceremonial license.
Allows mariners to request a ceremonial license when renewing his or her credential.
N/A §§ 10.232, 11.401, 11.404, 11.405, and 11.406 Expands provisions granting sea service credit towards STCW endorsements to include those mariners who hold a national endorsement and provide proof of service on vessels to which STCW applies, whether on inland or coastwise service.
Service on vessels to which STCW applies, whether inland or coastwise, will be credited on a day-for-day basis.
N/A § 10.405 Adds requirements for qualification as a qualified assessor or designated examiner.
To ensure that qualified individuals conduct evaluations of mariners in conformity with the STCW Convention. See Section A-I/6 of the STCW Code.
Adds a provision requiring qualified assessors who renew their qualifications to provide evidence of experience, training, or instruction within the past 5 years.
To ensure that qualified assessors are trained in proper assessment techniques and have completed an “assessor training” course as part of an accepted training program.
N/A § 10.409 Adds requirements for approval as a Coast Guard-accepted QSS organization.
Requires organizations wishing to accept and monitor training to submit application for approval. Coast Guard-accepted QSS organizations will be audited once every five years.
This is to ensure compliance with STCW Convention/Code and to provide oversight of these organizations.
N/A § 10.411 Adds simulator performance standards.
To provide consistency with existing requirements and Section A-I/12 of the STCW Code.
N/A § 10.412 Adds distance and e-learning,
Adds a provision that will allow mariners to complete certain approved training via distance or e-learning courses.
This will allow more options for obtaining training.
§§ 11.201, 11.205 § 11.201 Re-organizes and consolidates all general requirements applicable to all domestic and STCW officer endorsements.
Consolidates all endorsement requirements from the various sections (including §§ 11.201, 11.205) into a general section with sub-titles to allow for easy reference.
§ 11.202 § 15.817 Moves section for Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) competency without substantive change.
Requires that all deck officers serving on vessels equipped with GMDSS provide an endorsement for GMDSS.
This re-organizes the regulations to make them easier to access and follow.
§ 11.202 § 15.816 Moves section for Automatic Radar Plotting Aids (ARPA) competency without substantive change.
Requires that all deck officers serving on vessels equipped with ARPA prove competency.
This re-organizes the regulations to make them easier to access and follow.
§ § 11.202, 11.205 §§ 11.301, 11.302 and 11.303 Re-organizes and consolidates all requirements applicable to all STCW officer endorsements.
Title changes from Basic safety training (BST) to Basic Training (BT) to be consistent with the STCW Convention.
Consolidates all endorsement requirements from various sections (including §§ 11.202 and 11.205) into a general section with sub-titles to allow for easy reference. General requirements (§ 11.301), Basic training (§ 11.302) and Advanced firefighting (§ 11.303).
§ 11.202(c) §§ 11.305 to 11.321 Moves the requirement for ARPA from the general section.
To place the requirement in the appropriate operational-level and management-level certificate.
§ 11.202(d) §§ 11.305 to 11.321 Moves the requirement for the training and assessment on GMDSS from the general section.
Incorporates the GMDSS requirement with the requirement for the appropriate operational-level and management-level certificate to simplify and clarify the GMDSS requirement.
§ 11.202(e) §§ 11.305 to 11.321 Changes the name of Procedures for Bridge Team Work to Bridge Resource Management (BRM).
The BRM will be required for the operational level credential and leadership and managerial skills will be required for the management level credential.
This will provide consistency with STCW.
§ 11.202(e) §§ 11.305 to 11.321 Moves the requirement for Bridge Resource Management.
Moves the BRM requirement to the appropriate operational-level certificate in order to clarify and simplify the requirement.
§ 11.202(b) § 11.302 Moves requirements for Basic Training.
Adds requirements for BT, including the requirement to maintain the standard of competence every 5 years through a combination of drills and onboard training and experience with shore-side assessments.
This will ensure mariners maintain knowledge of BT.
§ 11.202(f) § 11.301(h) and (i) Moves exemptions and relaxations for vessels that are not subject to any obligation under STCW.
Moves exemption and relaxation requirements applicable to vessels that are exempt from the requirements or that are applicable because of their special operating condition as small vessels in domestic voyages.
This was done to simplify the regulations by placing all STCW requirements in one subpart.
§ 11.205(c) N/A Removes letters of reference requirement.
Removes the requirement to submit letters of reference because of the depth of new background investigation procedures by both the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration.
§ 11.205(d) § 11.201(h) Reduces firefighting training requirements for certain endorsements.
Reduces the training from basic and advanced firefighting to basic firefighting training for vessels of less than 200 GRT in ocean services.
This will reduce the burden on mariners serving on these vessels.
§ 11.205(d) § 11.201(h) Adds firefighting training requirements for certain endorsements.
Mandates basic firefighting training for some endorsements on non-ocean services.
This is to ensure that mariners with those endorsements have basic firefighting skills and to improve overall maritime safety.
§ 11.211 § 11.211 Adds provisions to accept certain towing vessel service, including service in inland tug-barge combinations such as ATBs and integrated tug barges (ITBs), based on the aggregate tonnage of the tug and barge(s) when greater than 1,600 GRT.
Grants credit for service on towing vessels using the aggregate tonnage on a 1-for-2 basis (2 days experience equals 1 day of creditable service) for up to 50 percent of the total service on vessels of 1,600 GRT or more.
§§ 11.211 (a) and (b), 11.213 § 10.232 Creates new section for sea service.
Inserts new section to discuss sea service issues applicable to all credentials, including foreign sea service, documentation to show proof of sea service, and sea service as a member of the armed forces.
This is in response to public comments requesting further clarification on sea service requirements.
Expands list of items applicants must provide as documentary evidence of sea service.
Revises to include sea service credit for cadets serving onboard academy training ships where sea service is part of an approved training program.
Will grant1/2days of sea service credit for each day a cadet serves aboard an academy training ship where sea service is part of an approved training program.
§ 11.211(d) § 11.211(c) Expands sea service credit on Articulated Tug Barges (ATBs).
The Coast Guard will allow the service on ATBs to qualify for unlimited tonnage officer endorsements.
This will reduce the burden on the mariner seeking to qualify for these endorsements.
§ 11.301 § 11.301 Revises to provide mariners the opportunity to use the new STCW training requirements when applying for credentials.
Provides that persons who hold or have held an STCW operational-level endorsement issued prior to the effective date of this final rule, and are seeking to upgrade to an STCW management-level endorsement, will not be required to do the assessments for STCW operational-level endorsements.
§ 11.301 § 10.401 Revises the applicability to include training programs.
Clarifies that the STCW Convention covers all training used to pursue certification, whether or not it is part of an approved course or training program. See Regulation I/6 of the STCW Convention and Section A-I/6 of the STCW Code.
§ 11.302 § 10.402 Revises the credit that can be provided by course approval to allow for multiple purposes.
Provides industry more flexibility to complete the requirements as current regulations are too confining.
§ 11.302 § 10.402 Revises the requirements for the request for course approval.
Incorporates previously issued guidance documents.
This is to assist industry in understanding otherwise vague requirements.
Revises course approvals to implement the IMO model course format and terminology.
§ 11.302 § 10.402 Clarifies the circumstances that could lead to the suspension of course approval for a training course.
Organizes the requirements for suspension of course approvals.
This is being done in response to public comments regarding course approval suspensions.
§ 11.302 § 10.402 Revises the reasons for withdrawal of course approval.
Clarifies reasons for withdrawal of course approval.
§ 11.302 § 10.407 Revises the requirements for the request for program approval.
§ 11.303 § 10.403 Revises section to require that each student demonstrate practical skills appropriate for the course.
Ensures that the training provided meets the requirements of the STCW Convention, i.e., not only ensuring applicant knowledge, understanding and proficiency (KUP), but also requiring a demonstration of skills. See STCW Regulation I/6 of the STCW Convention.
§ 11.303 § 10.403 Revises the records and reports required for each approved course.
Provides the Coast Guard the ability to be consistent with obligations under the STCW Convention to validate the training received by merchant mariners. See Regulation I/8 of the STCW Convention.
§ 11.303 § 10.403 Adds QSS requirements for an approved course.
Provides consistency with the obligation under the STCW Convention for approved training to be part of a QSS. See Regulation I/8 of the STCW Convention.
§ 11.304 § 10.404 Revises the requirement to substitute all sea service for successful completion of an approved training program.
Provides service credit for training programs, because they regularly provide more extensive training situations and broader opportunities to demonstrate proficiency.
§ 11.305 N/A Removes specific requirements regarding radar-observer certificates and qualifying courses.
Removes requirements now unnecessary due to other proposed changes throughout this subpart.
§ 11.309 § 10.409 Revises section to reduce redundant language from other sections of this subpart.
Provides clarification with reference to § 10.402 for collecting the necessary information.
§ 11.309 § 10.409 Adds QSS requirements for accepted training.
Provides consistency with the STCW Convention for approved training to be part of a QSS. See Regulation I/8 of the STCW Convention.
§ 11.401 N/A Removes the requirement for deck officers to obtain a qualification as able seaman.
Provides consistency with the STCW Convention that does not require a qualification as able seaman for seagoing deck officers.
§ 11.402 § 11.402 Revises tonnage limitations for an unlimited officer endorsement by setting the minimum to 2,000 GRT.
Establishes a revised minimum tonnage limitation. It was previously possible to obtain a limitation of less than 2,000 GRT.
This requirement eases the burden on mariners seeking removal of tonnage limitations on their licenses.
§ 11.400 et seq. § 11.400 et seq. Establishes a link between national and STCW deck officer endorsements.
Provides better organization and clarification by linking the endorsements.
§ 11.463 § 11.463(g) Adds a restriction to a specific type of towing vessel and/or towing operation. Adds the requirement for towing vessel officers serving on seagoing vessels to comply with the STCW Convention.
Adds provision for a towing vessel restriction such as articulated tug barge (ATB) vessels that do not routinely perform all of the tasks in the Towing Officer Assessment Record (TOAR).
Clarifies the regulations and policy for officers on towing vessels.
§ 11.463 § 11.463 Re-opens grandfathering provision.
Minimizes the burden on mariners by re-opening grandfathering provision for those who met training and service requirements prior to May 21, 2001.
§ 11.465 § 11.465 Adds a time limit for acceptance of TOARs.
The TOAR must be completed within 5 years of application for license to be consistent with the continued proficiency requirements for the renewal of a towing endorsement.
§ 11.467 § 11.467 Adds the limitation to the endorsement as operator of uninspected passenger vessels to not more than 100 nautical miles offshore.
Clarifies that this endorsement is limited to domestic near-coastal waters not more than 100 nautical miles offshore.
This makes clear that this endorsement authorizes only domestic voyages.
§ 11.482 § 11.482 Clarifies limitations for assistance towing endorsements.
Clarifies and simplifies the application of the assistance towing endorsement.
§ 11.491 § 11.491 Raises the tonnage limitations on national Offshore Supply Vessel (OSV) endorsements.
Raises the tonnage limitation for officers with a 500 GRT limitation to 1,600 GRT.
§ 11.493 § 11.493 Revises language for Master (OSV).
Eliminates unnecessary language and ensures consistency with STCW Convention and Code requirements by expanding the sea service requirements for this endorsement.
§ 11.495 § 11.495 Revises language for Chief Mate (OSV).
Eliminates unnecessary language and ensures consistency with STCW Convention and Code requirements.
§ 11.497 § 11.497 Revises language for Mate (OSV).
Eliminates unnecessary language and ensures consistency with STCW Convention and Code requirements.
§ 11.500 et seq. § 11.500 et seq. Establishes a link between national and STCW engineer officer endorsements.
Simplifies the regulations by providing link to appropriate section to add engineer STCW endorsement to existing national endorsement.
§ 11.501(d) § 11.501(d) Adds Gas Turbine Propulsion.
Clarifies propulsion mode limitations to engineer's licenses.
§ 11.518 § 11.518 Removes oceans restriction from chief engineer (limited) endorsement.
Simplifies the regulations by removing the geographical restriction.
To sail beyond the boundary line, the holder of this endorsement must hold the appropriate STCW endorsement.
§ 11.520 § 11.520 Removes chief engineer (limited near-coastal) endorsement.
Allows all engineers who currently hold a license as chief engineer (limited near-coastal) to be upgraded to chief engineer (limited) without further sea service or testing requirements.
§ 11.522 § 11.522 Removes oceans restriction from assistant engineer (limited) endorsement.
Simplifies the regulations by removing the geographical restriction.
To sail beyond the boundary line, the holder of this endorsement must hold the appropriate STCW endorsement.
§ 11.553 § 11.553 Revises language for Chief Engineer (OSV).
Eliminates unnecessary language and ensures consistency with STCW Convention and Code requirements by expanding the sea service requirements for this endorsement.
§ 11.555 § 11.555 Revises language for Assistant Engineer (OSV).
Eliminates unnecessary language and ensures consistency with STCW Convention and Code requirements.
§ 11.709 § 11.709 Revises language for first-class pilot annual physical examinations.
Integrates the first-class pilot's annual physical into the biennial medical certificate system.
§ 11.811 § 11.337 Moves requirements for Vessel Security Officer (VSO) to STCW officer endorsement requirements without substantive change.
Groups all STCW officer endorsements together.
§ 11.821 § 11.821 Defines the applicability of the High-speed craft type rating.
Limits the requirement to hold High-speed craft type rating to mariners operating vessels to which the High speed craft code applies.
§ 11.901 § 11.901 Removes the list of endorsements requiring STCW endorsement.
Amends section because the list of endorsements was redundant and unnecessary in this location.
§ 11.903 § 11.903 Revises the list of endorsements requiring examination.
Removes the endorsements that do not require an examination, based on a change in policy and progression consistent with the STCW Convention, i.e., master and second mate.
Adds endorsements that require an examination, based on a change in policy and progression consistent with the STCW Convention (mate of near-coastal vessels of less than 200 GRT, master of near-coastal vessels of less than 100 GRT, and mate of Great Lakes and inland/river vessels of less than 200 GRT).
§ 11.910 § 11.910 Revises table 1 to 11.910.
Clarifies and simplifies the regulations by reflecting the combined endorsements at the management and operational levels.
§ 11.910 § 11.910 Revises table 2 to 11.910.
To revise the table of subjects in order to reflect combined examinations at the operational and management levels and the STCW Convention.
§§ 11.1001 to 11.1005 N/A Deletes requirements for roll-on/roll-off passenger ships.
To reflect the 2010 STCW amendment changes to include requirements for passenger ships.
This also simplifies the regulations by merging requirements from subparts J and K.
§ 11.1105 § 11.1105 Amends requirements for officers on passenger ships when in international voyages.
Reflects the 2010 STCW amendment changes to include requirements for passenger ships.
Expands the 2010 STCW amendment changes to include training in crowd management, passenger ship safety training, crisis management and human behavior, and training in passenger safety, cargo safety, and hull integrity.
This also simplifies the regulations by merging requirements from subparts J and K.
N/A § 11.301(a) Adds alternative methods for Standard of Competence.
Adds alternative methods of demonstrating competence to provide mariners with multiple options, where allowed by the STCW Convention.
N/A § 11.301(b) Revises Great Lakes and inland service.
Grants day-for-day equivalency for Great Lakes service up to 100 percent and one- for-one up to 50 percent for inland service.
This is in response to public comments requesting equivalency for Great Lakes service.
Service accrued on vessels with dual tonnages.
Service will be credited using the international tonnage.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A § 11.301(d) Rating service for management-level endorsements.
Service as a rating is not acceptable for management-level STCW endorsements.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A § 11.301(g) Grandfathering provisions.
These provisions will ease the transition for mariners with existing endorsements.
Ensure consistency with the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention and Code.
N/A § 11.303 Requirements for Advanced Firefighting.
Adds requirements for Advanced Firefighting including the requirement to maintain the standard of competence every 5 years through a combination of drills and onboard training and experience with shore-side assessments.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A § 11.304 List of STCW deck officer endorsements.
List of endorsements included in the applicable subsequent sections.
This re-organizes the regulations to make them easier for the mariner to access.
N/A § 11.323 List of STCW engineer officer endorsements.
List of endorsements included in the applicable subsequent sections.
This re-organizes the regulations to make them easier for the mariner to access.
N/A §§ 11.303 to 11.321; §§ 11.323 to 11.335 Requirements for STCW deck and engineer officer endorsements.
Includes the STCW Convention list of requirements in order to obtain the endorsement.
This re-organizes the regulations to make them easier for the mariner to access.
N/A §§ 11.305 to 11.321; §§ 11.325 to 11.335 Sea service requirements for STCW deck and engineer officer endorsements.
Includes STCW Convention language providing various alternatives for sea service.
This re-organizes the regulations to make them easier for the mariner to access.
This also provides for acceptance of various modes of sea service.
N/A §§ 11.305 to 11.321; §§ 11.325 to 11.335 Standard of competence from the STCW Code.
Provides a specific requirement to meet the standard of competence from the appropriate tables in the STCW Code.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A §§ 11.305 to 11.325; §§ 11.323 to 11.335 Requirement for training.
Includes STCW Convention mandatory training.
Adds classroom or formal training topics required for STCW endorsements.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A §§ 11.305 to 11.321; §§ 11.325 to 11.335 Gap closing measures from the 2010 amendments.
Includes training necessary to comply with the 2010 amendments.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A §§ 11.305 to 11.321; §§ 11.325 to 11.335 Exemptions from the standard of competence.
Provides for exemptions from the tables of competence based on vessel type.
N/A §§ 11.305 to 11.321; §§ 11.325 to 11.335 Inserts tables specifying entry paths from national endorsements to STCW endorsements.
Describes various entry points to obtain an equivalent STCW endorsement.
This provides a method of determining which STCW endorsements are attainable for each national endorsement.
N/A § 11.335 Adds a new section providing the requirements for STCW officer endorsement as electro-technical officer.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention. See regulation III/6 of the STCW Convention and Section A-III/6 of the STCW Code.
N/A § 11.335 Provides equivalency accepted for personnel serving in a similar capacity.
Allows for the issuance of the STCW officer endorsement as electro-technical officer to personnel with equivalent credentials and sea service.
This makes it easier for an applicant to obtain this endorsement.
Adds classroom or formal training topics required for STCW endorsements.
Clarifies grandfathering provisions for Electro-Technical Officer.
N/A § 11.335 Provides equivalency accepted for engineer officers.
Allows for the issuance of the STCW officer endorsement as electro-technical officer to OICEW, second engineer officer and chief engineer officer.
This makes it easier for an applicant to obtain this endorsement.
N/A § 11.425 Adds a new section for mate of ocean, self-propelled vessels of less than 200 GRT.
Allows for the issuance of this national endorsement.
Provides a path of progression to master of oceans self-propelled vessels of less than 200 GRT, and in accordance with Regulation II/3 of the STCW Convention.
N/A § 11.821 Adds high-speed craft qualifications.
Establishes qualifications for operating high-speed craft.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A Subpart J Revises subpart to add new provisions on recognition of STCW officer endorsements issued by a foreign government.
Establishes requirements for the recognition of STCW Certificates issued by foreign governments. Recognition is restricted to non-U.S. licensed officers and mariners with officer endorsements (except masters) found in § 15.720(b). Application for a recognition certificate via the employer.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
§ 12.02-7 § 15.401 Moves this requirement to § 15.401.
Moves section to part 15 as it is a manning requirement.
This re-organizes the regulations to make them easier to understand.
Adds implementation date (January 1, 2017) for medical certificates in accordance with STCW Convention.
§ 12.02-17 § 12.205(c) Amends provisions for re-testing.
Amends waiting period after third failed examination. Deletes maximum waiting period of 30 days after initial failure.
This allows applicants to re-test earlier than the current time period.
§ 12.03 Subpart D (§ 10.400 series) Consolidates Coast Guard-accepted and approved training into one subpart.
Streamlines the regulations.
§ 12.05-1 § 12.401 Adds able seaman endorsements.
Adds able seaman-fish, and able seaman-sail.
This codifies Coast Guard policy into the regulations.
§ 12.05-1(a) and (b) § 15.401 Moves this requirement to § 15.401 without substantive change.
Moves paragraphs to part 15 as it is a manning requirement.
This re-organizes the regulations to make them easier to understand.
§ 12.05-3 § 12.401 Revises the general requirements to obtain an endorsement as able seaman (A/B) to include holding or qualified to hold an endorsement as lifeboatman.
Clarifies the A/B requirement to allow being qualified for lifeboatman, and removes the requirement to pass the lifeboatman exam if the individual already holds the appropriate endorsement.
This eases the burden on mariners seeking to obtain this endorsement.
§ 12.05-3(a)(2), 12.15-5, 12.25-20 § 12.401 Moves requirement to § 12.401 without substantive change.
Consolidates general requirements for certification.
This re-organizes the regulations to make them easier for the mariner to access.
§ 12.05-3(b) § 12.602 Moves requirements for Basic Safety Training (BST).
Title changes from BST to Basic Training (BT).
Adds requirements for BT, including the requirement to maintain the standard of competence every 5 years through a combination of drills and onboard training and experience with shore-side assessments.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
§ 12.05-3(c) § 12.605 Adds a new section to provide the requirements for ratings forming part of a navigational watch (RFPNW).
Provides requirements for RFPNW, required by the STCW Convention, in one location.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
§ 12.05-7 § 12.403 Adds service and training requirements for new rating endorsements.
Adds service and training requirements for able seaman-fish, and able seaman-sail.
This codifies Coast Guard policy into the regulations.
§ 12.05-9 § 12.405 Adds requirement in paragraphs (a) and (c) to show that the listed demonstrations have been performed in a Coast Guard-approved course.
This consolidates existing policy into the regulations.
§ 12.10 § 12.407 Moves this requirement to § 12.407 from § 12.10.
Moves requirement to STCW section.
This re-organizes the regulations to make them easier to understand without substantive change.
§ 12.10-1 § 15.401 Moves this requirement to § 15.401 without substantive change.
Moves section to part 15 as it is a manning requirement.
This re-organizes the regulations to make them easier to understand.
§ 12.10-3 § 12.609 Moves requirements to qualify for an STCW endorsement as a rating forming part of an engineering watch (RFPEW) without substantive change.
Moves requirement to STCW section.
This re-organizes the regulations to make them easier to understand.
§ 12.10-7 § 15.404 Moves this requirement to § 15.404 without substantive change.
Moves section to part 15 as it is a manning requirement.
This re-organizes the regulations to make them easier to understand.
§ 12.10-9 § 12.617 Revises the requirements for certificates of proficiency in fast rescue boats, adding the specific areas of competence the STCW Convention requires.
Provides additional information clarifying the STCW Convention requirements to obtain an endorsement for proficiency in fast rescue boats.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
§ 12.13-3 § 12.619 Revises the requirements for certificates of proficiency for medical first-aid provider, adding the specific areas of competence the STCW Convention requires.
Provides additional information clarifying the STCW Convention requirements to obtain an endorsement for medical first-aid provider.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
§ 12.13-3 § 12.619 Revises this basis-of-documentary-evidence section to include those persons who have alternative qualifications.
Adds the additional process to meet this requirement through the possession of a professional license or alternative professional qualification.
This opens up additional options for mariners to utilize in obtaining this endorsement.
§ 12.13-3 § 12.621 Revises the requirements for certificates of proficiency for person-in-charge of medical care, adding the specific areas of competence the STCW Convention requires.
Provides additional information clarifying the STCW Convention requirements to obtain an endorsement for person-in-charge of medical care.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
§ 12.13-3 § 12.621 Revises this basis-of-documentary-evidence section to include those persons who have alternative qualifications.
Adds the additional process to meet this requirement through the possession of a professional license or alternative professional qualification.
This opens up additional options for mariners to utilize in obtaining this endorsement.
§ 12.15-1 § 15.401 Moves this requirement to § 15.401 without substantive change.
Moves section to part 15 as it is a manning requirement.
This re-organizes the regulations to make them easier to understand.
§ 12.15-3(e) § 12.501 Revises the RFPEW requirement for Qualified Member of the Engineering Department (QMED).
Removes the specific requirement for the STCW endorsement as RFPEW associated with QMED and moves it to its own section.
This re-organizes the regulations to make them easier to understand.
§ 12.15-3(e) § 12.609 Adds a new section to provide the requirements for RFPEW.
Provides requirements for RFPEW, required by the STCW Convention, in one location.
This re-organizes the regulations to make them easier to understand.
§ 12.15-7 § 12.501 Revises the requirement to provide a more general requirement that a QMED endorsement applicant must complete an appropriate training program.
There is no need to provide specific information regarding the training programs and courses; this information is included in the course approval letters provided to each training provider.
This makes the regulations easier to follow.
§ 12.15-9 § 12.501 Reduces the number of QMED ratings from 10 to 5.
This simplifies the regulations by removing several endorsements that are no longer used and combines several others.
§ 12.15-11 § 12.505 QMED rating endorsement list.
Revises the list of QMED rating endorsements to make the regulations easier to follow.
§ 12.15-13 N/A Deletes deck engine mechanic rating as an MMC endorsement.
Deletes this rating for new applicants; however, companies that wish to continue to employ mariners in this rating may do so.
This simplifies the regulations by removing several endorsements that are rarely used and combines several others.
§ 12.15-15 N/A Deletes engineman rating as an MMC endorsement.
Deletes this rating for new applicants; however, companies that wish to continue to employ mariners in this rating may do so.
This simplifies the regulations by removing several endorsements that are rarely used and combines several others.
§ 12.25-1 § 12.701 Changes section title from “Credentials required” to “Credentials required for entry-level and miscellaneous ratings”.
Revises for clarity; no substantive change.
§ 12.25-10 § 12.703 Moves general requirements.
Consolidates general requirements for entry-level ratings.
This makes the regulations easier to follow.
§ 12.25-45 § 15.818 Moves section for GMDSS at-sea maintainer.
Requires that anyone serving as at-sea maintainers on vessels equipped with GMDSS must provide documentary evidence of competency.
This re-organizes the regulations to make them easier to access and follow.
§ 12.25-45 § 12.623 Revises section to provide more specific information regarding the qualification requirements for an endorsement as GMDSS at-sea maintainer.
Specifies the methods of qualification allowed to obtain the endorsement.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention and makes the regulations easier to follow.
§ 12.30 N/A Deletes requirements for ro-ro passenger ships.
Reflects the 2010 STCW amendment changes to include requirements for passenger ships, including ro-ro passenger ships.
§ 12.35 § 12.905 Amends requirements for ratings on passenger ships when in international voyages.
Reflects the 2010 amendment changes to include requirements for passenger ships.
Merges requirements from subparts 12.30 and 12.35.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A § 12.201 Adds section with general requirements for national and STCW rating endorsements.
Consolidates all requirements applicable to all rating endorsements contained in this part.
This makes the regulations easier to follow.
N/A § 12.203 Adds section with documentation of sea service for ratings.
Provides information on where to find the requirements for documentation and proof of sea service for ratings.
This makes the regulations easier to follow.
N/A § 12.409 Adds new section with requirements for lifeboatman-limited endorsement.
This endorsement is for mariners who serve on vessels without installed lifeboats.
Mariners serving on vessels without lifeboats could not qualify for the lifeboatman endorsement under current regulations.
N/A § 12.601 Adds section with general requirements applicable to STCW rating endorsements.
Adds provisions to provide mariners the opportunity to use the new STCW training requirements when applying for credentials.
Consolidates all requirements applicable to STCW endorsements in this subpart. Establishes list of STCW rating endorsements.
Establishes that the mariner with an STCW endorsement must also hold the equivalent national endorsement.
This makes the regulations easier to follow.
N/A § 12.601 Adds section with standard of competence.
Adds alternative methods of demonstrating competence.
This provides mariners with multiple options, where allowed by the STCW Convention.
N/A § 12.601 Adds section with grandfathering provisions.
Adds provisions for the implementation of the amendments to the requirements, including the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention and Code.
This eases the burden on mariners with existing endorsements.
N/A §§ 12.603-12.609 Insert tables specifying entry paths from national endorsements to STCW endorsements.
Describes various entry points to obtain an equivalent STCW endorsement.
This provides a method of determining which STCW endorsements are attainable for each national endorsement.
N/A § 12.603 Adds new section with requirements for STCW rating endorsement as able seafarer-deck.
Includes the STCW Convention requirements in order to obtain the endorsement.
Includes grandfathering provisions.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A § 12.605 Adds new section providing the requirements for RFPNW.
Provides specific requirements for this STCW endorsement.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A § 12.607 Adds a new section with requirements for STCW endorsement as able seafarer-engine.
Includes the STCW Convention requirements in order to obtain the endorsement.
Includes grandfathering provisions.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A § 12.609 Adds new section providing the requirements for RFPEW.
Provides specific requirements for this STCW endorsement.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A § 12.609(d) Adds a new section to provide the requirements for RFPEW.
Limits RFPEW endorsement to propulsion mode if all STCW competencies are not completed.
N/A § 12.611 Adds a new section providing the requirements for STCW officer endorsement as electro-technical rating.
Includes the STCW Convention requirements in order to obtain the endorsement. See regulation III/7 of the STCW Convention and Section A-III/7 of the STCW Code.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
Adds classroom or formal training topics required for STCW endorsements.
Clarifies grandfathering provisions for Electro-Technical Rating.
N/A § 12.611 Equivalent arrangements for personnel serving in a similar capacity.
Allows for the issuance of the STCW endorsement as electro-technical rating to personnel with equivalent credentials and sea service.
This provides applicants with multiple paths to obtain this endorsement.
N/A § 12.613 Adds new section with requirements for Proficiency in survival craft and rescue boats other than fast rescue boats (PSC).
Adds requirements to maintain the standard of competence every 5 years through a combination of drills and onboard training and experience with shore-side assessments.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A § 12.615 Adds new section to provide a new endorsement for proficiency in survival craft and rescue boats other than lifeboats and fast rescue boats (PSC-limited).
Adds new section because there are individuals assigned to vessels without lifeboats who do not need to meet the full requirements for proficiency in survival craft and rescue boats other than fast rescue boats (PSC), but must still meet the proficiency in the survival craft installed on their vessels.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A § 12.615 Adds new section with requirements for Proficiency in survival craft and rescue boats other than lifeboats and fast rescue boats (PSC).
Adds requirements to maintain the standard of competence every 5 years through a combination of drills and onboard training and experience with shore-side assessments.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A § 12.617 Adds new section with requirements for Proficiency in fast rescue boats.
Adds requirements to maintain the standard of competence every 5 years through a combination of drills and onboard training and experience with shore-side assessments.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A § 12.625 Adds new section with requirements to qualify for an STCW endorsement as vessel personnel with designated security duties.
Adds requirement for certification of personnel with security duties (except VSOs) in accordance with the 2010 amendments.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
Adds the STCW transitional provisions for seafarers with designated security duties that allow existing mariners who took a course and/or can document service on board vessels to obtain an endorsement.
N/A § 12.627 Adds new section with requirements to qualify for an STCW endorsement in security awareness.
Adds requirement for all other personnel working onboard the vessels, in accordance with the 2010 amendments.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
Adds the STCW transitional provisions for security awareness that allows existing mariners who took a course and/or can document service onboard vessels to obtain an endorsement.
§ 13.120 § 13.120 Amends the requirements for transfers for the renewal of tankerman endorsements.
Also adds requirements for STCW certification valid for tank vessels.
Clarifies the types of transfers required according to the type of endorsement being renewed.
§ 13.121 § 13.121 Includes tables of topics for each tanker course.
Clarifies and updates list of subjects that the tanker courses must cover.
§ 13.127 § 13.127 Revises service requirements for tankerman-engineer.
Clarifies information that must be included in the service letter for tankerman-engineer.
§ 13.127 § 13.127 Amends sea service credit for service onboard ATBs on a case-by-case basis.
§ 13.201 § 13.121 Moves the cargo course and firefighting course requirements of this section to § 13.121.
Clarifies existing requirements and makes the regulations easier to read.
§ 13.301 § 13.121 Moves the cargo course and firefighting course requirements of this section to § 13.121.
Clarifies existing requirements and makes the regulations easier to read.
§ 13.307, § 13.309 § 13.121 Moves the firefighting and cargo course requirements of this section to § 13.121.
Provides firefighting and cargo training course subjects in the appropriate table.
§ 13.401 § 13.401 Amends Tankerman-Assistant requirements.
Adds an examination requirement for mariners who qualify for the endorsement on sea service alone.
This ensures that an applicant has the necessary knowledge to obtain this endorsement.
§ 13.407, § 13.409 § 13.121 Moves the firefighting and cargo course requirements of this section to § 13.121.
Provides firefighting and cargo training course subjects in the appropriate table.
This makes the regulations easier to follow.
§ 13.501 § 13.121 Moves the cargo course and firefighting course requirements of this section to § 13.121.
Clarifies existing requirements and makes the regulations easier to read.
N/A § 13.601 Adds new section with alternative methods of demonstrating competence to provide mariners with multiple options, where allowed by the STCW Convention.
This opens additional paths of demonstrating competence.
N/A § 13.603 Adds requirements for an STCW endorsement as advanced oil tanker cargo operations.
Allows mariners serving on tank barges as tankerman-PIC (barge) to qualify for this STCW endorsement with a limitation to non-self-propelled vessels.
Allows engineer officers serving as tankerman engineer to qualify for this STCW endorsement for certain tanker operations with a limitation to maintenance and repair of cargo equipment.
Adds the effective date for new mariners to obtain original STCW tanker endorsements of March 24, 2014, in accordance with the provisions of the 2010 amendments.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A § 13.605 Adds requirements for an STCW endorsement as advanced chemical tanker cargo operations.
Allows mariners serving on tank barges as tankerman-PIC (barge) to qualify for this STCW endorsement with a limitation to non-self-propelled vessels.
Allows engineer officers serving as tankerman engineer to qualify for this STCW endorsement for certain tanker operations with a limitation to maintenance and repair of cargo equipment.
Adds the effective date for new mariners to obtain original STCW tanker endorsements of March 24, 2014, in accordance with the provisions of the 2010 amendments.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A § 13.607 Adds requirements for an STCW endorsement as advanced liquefied gas tanker cargo operations.
Allows mariners serving on tank barges as tankerman-PIC (barge) to qualify for this STCW endorsement with a limitation to non-self-propelled vessels.
Allows engineer officers serving as tankerman engineer to qualify for this STCW endorsement for certain tanker operations with a limitation to maintenance and repair of cargo equipment.
Adds the effective date for new mariners to obtain original STCW tanker endorsements of March 24, 2014, in accordance with the provisions of the 2010 amendments.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A § 13.609 Adds requirements for an STCW endorsement as basic oil and chemical tanker cargo operations.
Adds the effective date for new mariners to obtain original STCW tanker endorsements of March 24, 2014, in accordance with the provisions of the 2010 amendments.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
N/A § 13.611 Adds section to include requirements for an STCW endorsement as basic liquefied gas tanker cargo operations.
Adds the effective date for new mariners to obtain original STCW tanker endorsements of March 24, 2014, in accordance with the provisions of the 2010 amendments.
§ 14.309 § 14.309 Expands options for payment of wages upon discharge of a mariner.
In order to reflect current practices for electronic fund transfer for payment of wages, the Coast Guard will allow companies to provide, instead of payment, a statement of wages due and when wages will be deposited.
§ 15.103 § 15.105 Adds clarification that a safe manning certificate may be issued to uninspected vessels on an international voyage.
Provides uninspected vessels on international voyages the necessary information they will need to provide port state control Officers in foreign ports.
Adds pilot vessels on pilotage duty to the list of vessels not subject to STCW.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
§ 15.515 § 15.515 Clarifies the requirement regarding passenger vessels.
Provides clarification to assist in understanding manning requirements because existing language is confusing.
§ 15.605 § 15.605 Adds the requirement that individuals serving on uninspected passenger vessels (UPVs) on international voyages must comply with the STCW Convention.
UPVs operating on near-coastal domestic voyages are held to be substantially in compliance with the STCW Convention. However, the STCW Convention requires all individuals to be in compliance with the STCW Convention when on international voyages.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
This also makes it clear that operators on UPVs on international voyages must obtain the appropriate STCW endorsement.
§§ 15.805, 15.810, 15.820, 15.825, 15.840, 15.845, 15.850, and 15.860 §§ 15.805, 15.810, 15.820, 15.825, 15.840, 15.845, 15.850, and 15.860 Adds provisions requiring mariners who serve on vessels subject to STCW to also hold an STCW endorsement appropriate to the tonnage/propulsion power for the vessel upon which he or she is operating.
§ 15.805 § 15.805 Provides for all UPVs on international voyages to be under the control of an individual holding a license or endorsement as master.
Provides consistency with the STCW Convention, which requires that all vessels on an international voyage, including UPVs, must be operated by an individual who complies with the STCW Convention.
§ 15.845 § 15.845 Adds manning provision for new lifeboatman-limited rating.
Provides an alternative for those vessels without lifeboats and sets the provisions to use the lifeboatman-limited endorsement instead of the lifeboatman endorsement.
§ 15.915 § 15.915 Removes chief engineer (limited near-coastal) endorsement.
Allows all engineers who currently hold a license as chief engineer (limited near-coastal) to be upgraded to chief engineer (limited) 1,600 GRT without further sea service or testing requirements.
§ 15.1101 § 15.1101 Moves definitions of this section to § 10.107, and this section now provides a list of vessels exempt from having to comply with the STCW Convention. Also provides for certificates for a single international voyage for persons serving on vessels exempted under this section.
Complies with STCW requirements and makes the regulations easier to read.
§ 15.1103 § 15.1103 Adds requirement for medical certificate as a condition of employment.
In addition, provides an extension, not to exceed 90 days, if the certificate expires during a voyage.
All mariners must have a medical certificate. The 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention require a 2-year medical certificate for all seafarers holding STCW endorsements.
Adds provisions requiring mariners who serve as able seafarer-deck or able seafarer-engine on vessels subject to STCW to also hold an STCW endorsement appropriate to the tonnage/propulsion power for the vessel upon which he or she is operating.
Adds implementation date (January 1, 2017) for medical certificates and for endorsements as able seafarer-deck and able seafarer-engine in accordance with the STCW Convention.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
§ 15.1111 § 15.1111 Revises hours of work and rest periods for mariners.
The following changes are included as part of the 2010 amendments: (1) Expanded the application for hours of rest periods for mariners; (2) amended the weekly rest hour requirements from 70 hours to 77 hours; (3) recording of hours of rest and (4) included flexibility from the rest hour requirements in exceptional circumstances.
Revises provision regarding records of daily hours of rest for mariners so that mariners must receive a copy of the records pertaining to them.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
§ 15.1113 § 15.1113 Adds requirements for persons to hold an STCW endorsement for personnel with security duties.
This requirement has already been implemented with regards to VSOs.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
§ 15.1113 § 15.1113 Adds requirements for persons to hold an STCW endorsement in security awareness.
Adds requirement for all other personnel working onboard the vessels to hold an STCW endorsement in security awareness, in accordance with the 2010 amendments.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
§ 15.1113 § 15.1113 Adds requirements for contractors to receive security familiarization and that records be maintained onboard.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
§ 15.1113 § 15.1113 Adds implementation date for security personnel to effective date of final rule.
Clarifies the progression for security-related training from “security awareness” as the lowest level of training, to “vessel personnel with designated security duties” as the next-higher level of training, to “vessel security officer” as the highest level of training.
N/A § 15.403 Adds new section to establish when credentials for ratings are required.
Requires mariners serving on vessels over 100 GRT to produce the appropriate credential for the position sought.
This ensures consistency with the U.S. Code.
N/A § 15.404 Adds new section to provide the various endorsements required for service.
Explains specific endorsements required and covered under these manning requirements.
This makes the regulations easier to follow.
N/A § 15.865 Adds manning provision for qualified member of the engine department (QMED).
Explains that QMEDs are required and covered under these manning requirements
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.

The following table provides a crosswalk showing changes from the SNPRM to this final rule.

Cite Summary of changes
Subchapter B Tonnage limitation format for endorsements has been returned to the current format. The tonnage limit format that was proposed in the SNPRM created limitations that were not consistent with vessel documented tonnages.
Subchapter B Changes domestic to national when used to describe endorsements.
The use of “domestic” to describe endorsements that are restricted to United States waters inside the STCW boundary line has been replaced by “national” for greater clarity when discussing the domestic endorsements of other countries.
An MMC endorsement will not use either the word domestic or national.
§ 10.107 Adds the definition of able-seafarer deck.
Provides consistency with the STCW Convention.
§ 10.107 Adds the definition of able-seafarer engine.
Provides consistency with the STCW Convention.
§ 10.107 Removes the definition of apprentice mate (steersman) of towing vessels (utility).
Endorsement has been removed from regulations.
§ 10.107 Adds definition of chemical tanker.
Adds definition for the differentiation of dangerous liquids into two endorsements under STCW.
Clarifies the type of vessel on which mariners must serve to qualify for an STCW endorsement for advanced chemical tanker cargo operations.
§ 10.107 Adds the definition of communicable disease.
Clarifies what a physician should look for when conducting medical examinations.
§ 10.107 Revises definition of day.
Adds clarification on cadet service on a maritime training ship.
§ 10.107 Revises definition of disabled vessel.
The definition was revised to provide greater clarity regarding the scope of the assistance towing endorsement.
§ 10.107 Changes definition of domestic officer endorsement to national officer endorsement.
The use of “domestic” to describe endorsements that are restricted to United States waters inside the STCW boundary line has been replaced by “national” for greater clarity when discussing the domestic endorsements of other countries.
This change has been made throughout subchapter B.
§ 10.107 Changes definition of domestic rating endorsement to national rating endorsement.
The use of “domestic” to describe endorsements that are restricted to United States waters inside the STCW boundary line has been replaced by “national” for greater clarity when discussing the domestic endorsements of other countries.
This change has been made throughout subchapter B.
§ 10.107 Revises definition of domestic voyage.
The definition was revised to include voyages beginning and ending at a U.S. port and passing through the waters of another country if the U.S. has entered into a treaty or agreement with that country.
§ 10.107 Adds the definition of electro-technical officer.
Provides consistency with the STCW Convention.
§ 10.107 Adds the definition of electro-technical rating.
Provides consistency with the STCW Convention.
§ 10.107 Revises definition of Endorsement.
The definition was revised to clarify that all endorsements are listed in § 10.109.
§ 10.107 Adds the definition of high-speed craft type rating.
Adds a definition and requirement for a high-speed craft type rating to be compliant with the high-speed craft code. This puts into regulations existing processes that had previously been completed through Navigation Vessel Inspection Circular and policy letter.
§ 10.107 Adds the definition of International Labor Organization.
This will provide clarification regarding information incorporated by reference.
§ 10.107 Adds the definition of International Safety Management Code.
This term is referenced in part 10.
§ 10.107 Revises definition of inland waters.
The definition was revised to allow sea service credit towards STCW on certain inland vessels.
§ 10.107 Removes the definition of limited.
Definition is not needed because it has the same meaning as in standard English language usage.
§ 10.107 Adds definition of liquefied gas tanker.
Adds definition for the change in STCW tanker cargo operations endorsements.
§ 10.107 Adds definition of medical certificate.
To describe a new document that serves as proof that a mariner meets the required medical and physical standards.
§ 10.107 Revises definition for near-coastal.
Includes near-coastal waters identified by another country's Administration when entering into a treaty or an agreement with that country.
§ 10.107 Adds definition of oil tanker.
Adds definition for the differentiation of dangerous liquids into two STCW endorsements.
§ 10.107 Revises definition for qualified assessor.
Clarifies this person's role and professional development.
§ 10.107 Removes the definition of restricted.
Definition is not needed because it has the same meaning as in standard English language usage.
§ 10.107 Revises definition of seagoing vessel.
To ensure the definition captures all vessels to which STCW Convention and Code apply.
§ 10.107 Revises the definition of self-propelled.
Reverts back to existing language regarding self-propelled vessels that are fitted with both sails and mechanical propulsion.
§ 10.107 Removes definition for self-propelled tank vessel.
Eliminates redundancy with the definition of tankship.
§ 10.107 Revises the definition of ship.
To provide clarity regarding the types of propulsion modes for these vessels.
§ 10.107 Adds the definition of unlimited.
Clarifies the annotation on an MMC authorizing service on vessels of any tonnage or any propulsion power.
§ 10.205 Revises postdating.
Clarifies and simplifies the postdating process. Postdating will occur unless the applicant specifies otherwise.
§§ 10.209, 10.480 Electronic submission of required documents.
Allows course completion certificates, including radar observer, to be submitted electronically.
§ 10.219 Removes proposed amendments in the SNPRM that limited user fee payment options to credit card or electronic payment only. This change gives mariners the ability to pay by cash, by attaching a check or money order to their application package, or by electronic means.
§ 10.301 Revises medical certificate validity period.
Adds issuance of the new medical certificates with the following period of validity: 2 years for a mariner who is serving as a first-class pilot, or acting as a pilot under § 15.812.
§ 10.232 Revises to include sea service credit for cadets serving onboard academy training ships where sea service is part of an approved training program.
Will grant 11/2days of sea service credit for each day a cadet serves aboard an academy training ship where sea service is part of an approved training program.
Expands list of items applicants must provide as documentary evidence of sea service.
§§ 10.232, 11.401, 11.404, 11.405, and 11.406 Expands provisions granting sea service credit towards STCW endorsements to include those mariners who hold a national endorsement and provide proof of service on vessels to which STCW applies, whether on inland or coastwise service.
Service on vessels to which STCW applies, whether inland or coastwise, will be credited on a day-for-day basis.
§ 10.402 Revises course approvals to implement the International Maritime Organization model course format and terminology.
§ 10.405 Adds a provision requiring qualified assessors who renew their qualifications to provide evidence of experience, training, or instruction within the past 5 years.
Ensures that qualified assessors are trained in proper assessment techniques and have completed an “assessor training” course as part of an accepted training program.
§ 10.407 Revises the requirements for the request for program approval.
§ 10.410 Adds a new paragraph (g) to include International Safety Management, which is an industry-wide system, as alternate means of compliance for the Quality Standards System (QSS) provision.
Adds implementation date (January 1, 2017) for QSS requirements in accordance with the STCW Convention.
§ 11.211 Revises to accept certain towing vessel service, including service in inland tug-barge combinations such as articulated tug barges (ATBs) and integrated tug barges (ITBs), based on the aggregate tonnage of the tug and barge(s) when greater than 1,600 GRT.
Grants credit for service on towing vessels using the aggregate tonnage on a 1-for-2 basis (2 days experience equals 1 day of creditable service) for up to 50 percent of the total service on vessels of 1,600 GRT or more.
§ 11.301 Revises to provide mariners the opportunity to use the new STCW training requirements when applying for credentials.
Provides that persons who hold or have held an STCW operational-level endorsement issued prior to the effective date of this final rule, and are seeking to upgrade to an STCW management-level endorsement, will not be required to do the assessments for STCW operational-level endorsements.
§ 11.301 Separates Basic Safety Training and Advanced Firefighting requirements from the general section (§ 11.301) into new sections (§§ 11.302 and 11.303, respectively).
Title changes from Basic Safety training (BST) to Basic Training (BT).
§ 11.304 Moves the list of STCW deck officer endorsements from § 11.303.
§§ 11.305 to 11.321; §§ 11.325 to 11.335 Increased the number of classroom or formal training topics required for STCW endorsements.
§ 11.335 Adds to the number of classroom or formal training topics required for STCW endorsements.
Clarifies grandfathering provisions for Electro-Technical Officer.
§ 11.337 Moves requirements for Vessel Security Officer from § 11.811 to STCW officer endorsement requirements.
Groups all STCW officer endorsements together.
§ 11.425 Adds endorsement for mate of ocean self-propelled vessels of less than 200 GRT.
Allows for the issuance of this national endorsement.
Provides a path of progression to master of oceans self-propelled vessels of less than 200 GRT, and in accordance with Regulation II/3 of the STCW Convention.
§ 11.465 Removes SNPRM proposal for endorsement for master of towing vessels (harbor assist), and removes endorsement for master of towing vessel (utility).
Coast Guard is currently considering moving these issues to another rulemaking or seeking additional input from the Towing Safety Advisory Committee (TSAC), which would give the public additional time to comment on this matter.
§ 11.466 Removes SNPRM proposal for endorsement as apprentice mate (steersman) of towing vessels (utility).
Coast Guard is currently considering moving this issue to another rulemaking or seeking additional input from the TSAC, which would give the public additional time to comment on this matter.
§ 11.491 Raises the tonnage limitations on national Offshore Supply Vessel endorsements.
Raises the tonnage limitation for officers with a 500 GRT limitation to 1,600 GRT.
§ 11.493 Revises language for Master (OSV).
Expands the sea service requirements for this endorsement.
§ 11.495 Revises language for Chief Mate (OSV).
Expands the sea service requirements for this endorsement.
§ 11.497 Revises language for Mate (OSV).
Eliminates unnecessary language and ensures consistency with STCW Convention and Code requirements.
Expands the sea service requirements for this endorsement.
§ 11.518 Removes oceans restriction from chief engineer (limited) endorsement.
Simplifies the regulations by removing the geographical restriction.
To sail beyond the boundary line, the holder of this endorsement must hold the appropriate STCW endorsement.
§ 11.520 Removes chief engineer (limited near-coastal) endorsement.
Allows all engineers who currently hold a license as chief engineer (limited near-coastal) to be upgraded to chief engineer (limited) without further sea service or testing requirements.
§ 11.522 Removes oceans restriction from assistant engineer (limited) endorsement.
Simplifies the regulations by removing the geographical restriction.
To sail beyond the boundary line, the holder of this endorsement must hold the appropriate STCW endorsement.
§ 11.553 Revises language for Chief Engineer (OSV).
Expands the sea service requirements for this endorsement.
§ 11.555 Revises language for Assistant Engineer (OSV).
Expands the sea service requirements for this endorsement.
§ 11.709 Revises language for first-class pilot annual physical examinations.
Integrates the first-class pilot's annual physical into the biennial medical certificate system.
§ 11.821 Defines the applicability of the High-speed craft type rating.
Limits the requirement to hold High-speed craft type rating to mariners operating vessels to which the High-speed craft code applies.
§ 11.903 Revises the list of endorsements requiring examination.
Adds endorsements (that were removed in the SNPRM) that require an examination, based on a change in policy and progression consistent with the STCW Convention (offshore installation manager, barge supervisor, ballast control operator, chief engineer (MODU), assistant engineer (MODU).
Adds endorsements that require an examination, based on a change in policy and progression consistent with the STCW Convention (mate of near-coastal vessels of less than 200 GRT, master of near-coastal vessels of less than 100 GRT, and mate of Great Lakes and inland/river vessels of less than 200 GRT).
§ 11.1105 Expands the 2010 STCW amendment changes to include training in crowd management, passenger ship safety training, crisis management and human behavior, and training in passenger safety, cargo safety, and hull integrity.
§ 12.601 Separates Basic Safety Training from the general section (§ 12.601) into a new section (§ 12.602).
Title changes from Basic Safety training to Basic Training.
§ 12.601 Establishes that the mariner with an STCW endorsement must also hold the equivalent national endorsement.
§ 12.601 Revises to provide mariners the opportunity to use the new STCW training requirements when applying for credentials.
§ 12.603 Includes grandfathering provisions that will be accepted for STCW rating endorsement as able seafarer-deck.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
§ 12.607 Includes grandfathering provisions that will be accepted for STCW rating endorsement as able seafarer-engine.
Includes all domestic Qualified Member of the Engine Department endorsements that will be eligible for the STCW endorsement as able seafarer-engine.
Provides an alternate path with a reduced sea service requirement to the able seafarer-engine endorsement that will facilitate the transition from domestic to STCW endorsements.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
§ 12.611 Adds to the number of classroom or formal training topics required for STCW endorsements.
Clarifies grandfathering provisions for Electro-Technical Rating.
§ 12.625 Revises to include the STCW transitional provisions for seafarers with designated security duties that allow existing mariners who took a course and/or can document service on board vessels to obtain an endorsement.
§ 12.627 Revises to include the STCW transitional provisions for security awareness that allows existing mariners who took a course and/or can document service onboard vessels to obtain an endorsement.
§ 13.127 Amends sea service credit for service onboard ATBs on a case-by-case basis.
§ 13.603 Revises to include only requirements for an STCW endorsement as advanced oil tanker cargo operations. This endorsement was combined with advanced chemical tanker cargo operations in the SNPRM and is now located in § 13.605.
Allows mariners serving on tank barges as tankerman-PIC (barge) to qualify for this STCW endorsement with a limitation to non-self-propelled vessels.
Allows engineer officers serving as tankerman engineer to qualify for this STCW endorsement for certain tanker operations with a limitation to maintenance and repair of cargo equipment.
Revises the effective date for new mariners to obtain original STCW tanker endorsements from January 1, 2017, to March 24, 2014, in accordance with the provisions of the 2010 amendments.
§ 13.605 Revises to include only requirements for an STCW endorsement as advanced chemical tanker cargo operations.
Allows mariners serving on tank barges as tankerman-PIC (barge) to qualify for this STCW endorsement with a limitation to non-self-propelled vessels.
Allows engineer officers serving as tankerman engineer to qualify for this STCW endorsement for certain tanker operations with a limitation to maintenance and repair of cargo equipment.
Revises the effective date for new mariners to obtain original STCW tanker endorsements from January 1, 2017, to March 24, 2014, in accordance with the provisions of the 2010 amendments.
§ 13.607 Revises to include only requirements for an STCW endorsement as advanced liquefied gas tanker cargo operations.
Allows mariners serving on tank barges as tankerman-PIC (barge) to qualify for this STCW endorsement with a limitation to non-self-propelled vessels.
Allows engineer officers serving as tankerman engineer to qualify for this STCW endorsement for certain tanker operations with a limitation to maintenance and repair of cargo equipment.
Revises the effective date for new mariners to obtain original STCW tanker endorsements from January 1, 2017, to March 24, 2014, in accordance with the provisions of the 2010 amendments.
§ 13.609 Revises to include only requirements for an STCW endorsement as basic oil and chemical tanker cargo operations.
Revises the effective date for new mariners to obtain original STCW tanker endorsements from January 1, 2017, to March 24, 2014, in accordance with the provisions of the 2010 amendments.
§ 13.611 Adds section to include requirements for an STCW endorsement as basic liquefied gas tanker cargo operations.
Adds the effective date for new mariners to obtain original STCW tanker endorsements from January 1, 2017, to March 24, 2014, in accordance with the provisions of the 2010 amendments.
§§ 15.105, 15.403, 15.1101 Adds pilot vessels on pilotage duty to the list of vessels not subject to STCW. Pilots are exempt from STCW requirements.
§ 15.401 Adds implementation date (January 1, 2017) for medical certificates in accordance with STCW Convention.
§§ 15.805, 15.810, 15.820, 15.825, 15.840, 15.845, 15.850, and 15.860 Includes provisions requiring mariners who serve on vessels subject to STCW to also hold an STCW endorsement appropriate to the tonnage/propulsion power for the vessel upon which he or she is operating.
§ 15.865 Adds manning provision for qualified member of the engine department (QMED).
Explains that QMEDs are required and covered under these manning requirements
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.
§ 15.915 Removes chief engineer (limited near-coastal) endorsement.
Allows all engineers who currently hold a license as chief engineer (limited near-coastal) to be upgraded to chief engineer (limited) 1,600 GRT without further sea service or testing requirements.
§ 15.1103 Includes provisions requiring mariners who serve as able seafarer-deck or able seafarer-engine on vessels subject to STCW to also hold an STCW endorsement appropriate to the tonnage/propulsion power for the vessel upon which he or she is operating.
Adds implementation date (January 1, 2017) for medical certificates and for endorsements as able seafarer-deck and able seafarer-engine in accordance with the STCW Convention.
§ 15.1111 Revises provision regarding records of daily hours of rest for mariners so that mariners must receive a copy of the records pertaining to them.
§ 15.1113 Adds requirements for contractors to receive security familiarization and that records be maintained onboard.
Revises implementation date for security personnel to the effective date of this final rule.
Clarifies the progression for security-related training from “security awareness” as the lowest level of training, to “vessel personnel with designated security duties” as the next-higher level of training, to “vessel security officer” as the highest level of training.
This ensures consistency with the STCW Convention.

VI. Discussion of Comments and Explanation of Changes Back to Top

In this section, we discuss comments on the SNPRM and changes made in response to them. The section consists of four subsections, the first of which contains a summary of the changes made from the SNPRM. Subsection B follows with a more in-depth discussion of comments and recommendations received from the public, MERPAC, and MEDMAC, together with associated changes. MERPAC and MEDMAC recommendations are discussed in separate groups that appear at the end of the subsection. Subsection C contains a discussion of public comments in response to the MERPAC and the MEDMAC recommendations. The Coast Guard announced the availability of those recommendations in a notice published in the Federal Register on November 3, 2011 (76 FR 68202). Subsection D, entitled “Additional Request for Comments”, contains a discussion of public comments solicited by the Coast Guard on six specific issues in the SNPRM (76 FR 45909).

A. Summary of Changes From the SNPRM

The following list provides a brief description of the major provisions in this final rule, including changes to the provisions proposed in the SNPRM. A detailed explanation of the reasons for these and other changes can be found in subsection B of this section, Public comments on the SNPRM. All of the changes to the SNPRM described in the summary below were made in response to comments from the public, MERPAC, or MEDMAC.

1. Medical

The Coast Guard is changing the validity period of a medical certificate issued to a mariner who is serving as a first-class pilot from 1 year, as proposed in the SNPRM, to a maximum period of 2 years. The Coast Guard is making this change in response to comments from the public, MEDMAC, and MERPAC. The comments raised concerns that the Coast Guard would not be able conduct medical evaluations and issue medical endorsements in a reasonable amount of time with a 1-year validity period. Aligning the validity period of a medical certificate issued to a first-class pilot with the validity period of STCW medical certificates will help to minimize the numbers of mariners who will require more frequent medical evaluation. This change should decrease the workload on the medical evaluation staff and help to reduce the possibility of unreasonable time delays. The requirement for pilots to obtain annual physical examinations remains unchanged.

Additionally, the Coast Guard received comments requesting clear direction on implementation of the 2-year medical certificate. The 2010 STCW amendments require that issuance of medical certificates with 2-year validity periods be fully implemented by January 1, 2017. Accordingly, the Coast Guard is including that implementation date in this final rule. To facilitate implementation, the Coast Guard will start issuing 2-year medical certificates 30 days after the publication of this final rule.

2. STCW Training

The Coast Guard received comments opposing the increase in on-the-job training permitted as an alternative to current implementing policy on classroom training. Commenters cited many reasons, including concerns that the proposed increase would result in degradation of the competence and proficiency of U.S. mariners. Commenters also worried that the proposed increase might not be practical because many vessels are currently minimally manned, and personnel may not have time to provide more on-the-job training.

The Coast Guard recognizes that the STCW Convention is competence-based and not training-based. For this reason, each administration bears the responsibility of establishing the appropriate combination of training and experience necessary to achieve the necessary level of competence, and to establish when and how training must be accomplished.

The Coast Guard agrees that a more appropriate balance between on-the-job training and formal training is required. Accordingly, the Coast Guard increased the number of classroom or formal training topics required for STCW endorsements in this final rule. These additional training topics were part of the extensive list of topics proposed in the NPRM, which were omitted from the SNPRM in response to comments requesting greater opportunities for on-the-job training. This final rule strikes an appropriate balance between the two proposals. This increase in the number of classroom or formal training topics does not change the overall cost estimates presented in the regulatory analyses because those cost estimates reflect the costs if all of the training were formal or classroom training.

Parts 11 and 12 of 46 CFR are amended to include a combination of training and in-service requirements and assessments, to provide mariners with flexibility, and ensure that seafarers achieve the level of competence required for STCW endorsements. This final rule generally increases required classroom training compared to the SNPRM, but the overall amount of training of all kinds has not changed. At the same time, this rulemaking increases flexibility compared to the SNPRM by providing for the use of onboard training programs, approved individual company training programs, approved workshop skills training, approved laboratory training, and where appropriate, approved simulator training. We also added an opportunity for a candidate to complete an approved program by taking individual courses offered by different providers. This change also addresses the concerns that shipboard factors, including reduced manning, higher mariner workload, and mariner fatigue issues, could make it a challenge for seafarers onboard vessels to train others.

3. Utility and Harbor Assist Towing

The Coast Guard is not including the endorsements for apprentice mate (steersman) of towing (utility), master of towing (utility), and master of towing (harbor assist) that were proposed in the SNPRM. Public comment raised sufficient concerns with these provisions, as discussed below in “Discussion of Public Comments,” that the Coast Guard wants to seek additional comment from the industry. We are currently considering moving the issue to another rulemaking or seeking additional input from the Towing Safety Advisory Committee (TSAC), which would give the public additional time to comment on this matter.

4. Transitional Provisions

Unless specified otherwise, STCW provisions in this final rule will be phased in beginning on the effective date of this final rule with full compliance required by January 1, 2017.

Additionally, unless specified otherwise, national endorsement provisions in this final rule will be phased in beginning on the effective date of this final rule. Individuals seeking an original credential or raise-of-grade to an existing credential during this period, who began training or service before the effective date of this final rule, need only meet the requirements in place when they began training or service. Those individuals who start training or service on or after the effective date of this final rule must meet all provisions described in this final rule. Changes in terminology on national endorsements will be made at the first renewal or raise-of-grade following the effective date of this final rule.

Other transitional provisions for STCW and national endorsement provisions are discussed below in the applicable sections of this summary.

5. Chief Engineer (limited near-coastal)

The Coast Guard is removing the endorsement for chief engineer (limited near-coastal) currently found in § 11.520. We have also removed the word “oceans” from the remaining chief engineer (limited) and assistant engineer (limited) titles in response to recommendations from the public and MERPAC that all engineers who currently hold a license as chief engineer (limited near-coastal) should be upgraded to chief engineer (limited) without further testing requirements.

New applicants for chief engineer (limited) are required to provide proof of 2 years of sea service in accordance with § 11.518 and take the appropriate examination. Further, we are keeping the 2-year sea service requirement to upgrade from assistant engineer (limited) to chief engineer (limited). Since the written examination for both chief engineer (limited) categories are identical, those mariners going from chief engineer (limited near-coastal) to chief engineer (limited) will not be required to take an examination. However, a chief engineer (limited near-coastal) upgrading to chief engineer (limited) must present at least 1 year of sea service either as chief engineer (limited near-coastal), or in combination with assistant engineer (limited). Current mariners who hold a chief engineer (limited near-coastal) credential may continue to renew that credential.

6. Articulated Tug Barges (ATBs)

The Coast Guard is making changes in accepting certain towing vessel service, including service in inland tug-barge combinations such as ATBs and integrated tug barges (ITBs), based on the aggregate tonnage of the tug and barge(s) when greater than 1,600 GRT. We made this change in response to comments from the public and MERPAC, who recommended that the Coast Guard reconsider its position of not granting service credit on ATBs toward an STCW endorsement without limitation, and adopt a regulation or policy whereby inland tug-barge combinations are accepted in computing license tonnage ratings as they presently are for ITB and ATB service.

This change will facilitate the towing industry's need for career paths to retain highly-skilled personnel. This service will be accepted only when properly documented by the towing company.

7. STCW Applicability

The Coast Guard is exempting pilot vessels engaged on pilotage duty from STCW requirements. The Coast Guard made this change in response to comments from the public and MERPAC, who recommended that the Coast Guard interpret the STCW Convention to regard pilot vessels as not being seagoing ships because they operate “in waters within, or closely adjacent to, sheltered waters or areas where port regulations apply” in accordance with Article II of the STCW Convention.

We agree that pilot vessels should not be considered seagoing vessels, and that persons serving aboard them while engaged in pilotage duty are exempt from application of the STCW Convention. This position is consistent with the U.S. interpretation of the STCW Convention, and stating it explicitly in regulations clarifies the proper treatment of such vessels and personnel for mariners and marine inspectors.

8. Able Seafarer-Deck and Able Seafarer-Engine

The Coast Guard is clarifying the STCW transitional provisions for able seafarer-deck and able seafarer-engine endorsements by adding grandfathering provisions and deadlines for compliance. We made this change in response to comments from the public and MERPAC, who recommended that the Coast Guard set an effective date for compliance with those endorsement requirements that afford affected mariners and the National Maritime Center (NMC) enough time to process the necessary applications. This change will help facilitate an orderly transition to full compliance with the new requirements of the 2010 amendments by January 1, 2017.

9. STCW Assessments of Competence

The Coast Guard is changing the STCW endorsement requirements in §§ 11.301 and 12.601, which will provide mariners the opportunity to use the new STCW training requirements when applying for credentials. The Coast Guard made these changes in response to comments from the public requesting that onboard and on-the-job training remain available as an option to demonstrate proficiency for the credentialing of mariners.

In addition, the Coast Guard is adding a new paragraph, § 11.301(g)(4), providing that persons who hold or have held an STCW operational-level endorsement issued prior to the effective date of this final rule, and are seeking to upgrade to an STCW management-level endorsement, will not be required to do the assessments for STCW operational-level endorsements. The Coast Guard made this change in response to commenters who were concerned that the SNPRM would require applicants for management-level STCW endorsements who hold domestic management-level endorsements to provide evidence of operational-level training and assessments. The Coast Guard agrees that these mariners should not be required to do assessments for STCW operational-level endorsements because they will be deemed to have completed these assessments under the STCW Convention.

10. Sea Service Credit for Mariners Holding National Endorsements on STCW Vessels

The Coast Guard is further expanding provisions granting sea service credit towards STCW endorsements to include those mariners who hold a national endorsement and provide proof of service on vessels to which STCW applies, whether on inland or coastwise service. We made this change in response to comments from the public and MERPAC, who recommended that mariners serving on vessels to which STCW applies, and that engage in coastwise voyages and inland waters, should be granted day-for-day service credit.

This change is applicable to vessels operating on the Inside Passage between Puget Sound and Cape Spencer, Alaska. Service on vessels to which STCW applies, whether inland or coastwise, will be credited on a day-for-day basis.

11. STCW Tanker Endorsements

The Coast Guard is including provisions to allow mariners serving on tank barges to qualify for an STCW endorsement with a limitation to non-self-propelled vessels. The Coast Guard made this change in response to comments from the public and MERPAC, who requested that mariners who hold an endorsement as tankerman-PIC (barge) be allowed to qualify for an STCW endorsement for advanced oil tanker cargo operations, advanced chemical tanker cargo operations, or advanced liquefied gas tanker cargo operations.

This change is necessary because these barges operate beyond the boundary line and are, consequently, subject to the STCW Code and Convention. Mariners serving on them must hold STCW endorsements, and this change will allow mariners who hold an endorsement as tankerman-PIC (barge) to qualify for an STCW endorsement for advanced oil tanker cargo operations, advanced chemical tanker cargo operations, or advanced liquefied gas tanker cargo operations provided that they meet the appropriate sea service requirements and the standards of competence of the STCW Code.

The Coast Guard is also including provisions to allow engineer officers to qualify for an STCW endorsement for certain tanker operations with a limitation to maintenance and repair of cargo equipment. The Coast Guard made this change in response to comments from the public and MERPAC, who requested that mariners who hold a national endorsement as tankerman-engineer be allowed to qualify for an STCW endorsement for advanced oil tanker cargo operations, advanced chemical tanker cargo operations, or advanced liquefied gas tanker cargo operations. The limitation to maintenance and repair of cargo equipment is necessary because it aligns with the duties of a national tankerman-engineer endorsement.

Engineers serving onboard tank vessels subject to STCW are required to hold a tankerman endorsement. This change will allow engineer officers serving on such vessels, who hold or qualify for a national tankerman-engineer endorsement, to qualify for an STCW endorsement for advanced oil tanker cargo operations, advanced chemical tanker cargo operations, or advanced liquefied gas tanker cargo operations without having to complete the onboard assessment requirements for tankerman-PIC.

In addition, the Coast Guard will accept service onboard some ATBs toward the national and STCW tankerman endorsements, provided the ATB equipment is equivalent to comparable tankship equipment. The Coast Guard made this change in response to comments from the public and MERPAC, who requested that mariners receive credit for service onboard ATBs, taking into account that new ATBs have cargo-handling equipment identical to the equipment on tankships. This change is necessary to ensure career paths remain available and to facilitate the use of new ATBs as qualifying platforms for tankerman endorsements.

The Coast Guard is amending applicable sections in 46 CFR part 13 to correct the date by which mariners must meet the new STCW requirements to obtain original tanker endorsements from January 1, 2017, to the effective date of this final rule, in accordance with the provisions of the STCW 2010 amendments. After the effective date of this final rule, all seafarers applying for an original tankerman endorsement must meet those requirements. These corrections are necessary to maintain consistency with 46 CFR parts 11 and 12, and we made them in response to comments requesting clarification of effective dates.

12. Offshore Supply Vessel (OSV) Endorsements

The Coast Guard is making changes to the national OSV endorsements for both deck and engineer officers in response to comments from the public objecting to inconsistencies between national and STCW endorsements. We are changing the OSV endorsements for both deck and engineer officers by separating the national and STCW credentials to ensure consistency with other requirements. The exemption from meeting the STCW requirements in the existing regulations remains unchanged. Additional changes to national OSV endorsements include: (1) Revisions to sea service requirements for OSV endorsements to make those requirements comparable to other credentials; (2) the option to complete an approved course for a mate or assistant engineer to meet the sea service requirements; and (3) the progression from vessels less than 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT to more than 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT for chief mate and master.

The change described in (3) above addresses Section 617 of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 (Pub. L. 111-281) and its removal of the 500 GRT tonnage limits on OSVs. These amendments will ensure that mariners with existing licenses or MMCs can progress to higher credentials.

13. Security

The Coast Guard is making changes to the security requirements in parts 12 and 15 in response to comments expressing concern that the SNPRM did not include all of the requirements and different means of compliance, commonly referred to as “flexibilities”, contained in the Convention. The Coast Guard agrees. Based on comments to the SNPRM, the Coast Guard included additional security provisions in this rulemaking, which are described below, to better facilitate an orderly transition.

In addition, after the development of the SNPRM, the IMO published Circular STCW.7/Circ.17 in June 2011, advising administrations and port state control authorities that mariners may comply with section 13 of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code instead of Regulation VI/6 of the STCW Convention until January 1, 2014. The Coast Guard has added a provision in this final rule consistent with the circular, but amended the date to the effective date of this final rule, to facilitate mariner compliance with the new requirements.

The Coast Guard is making changes to the security provisions in part 15 to clarify that all contractors, whether part-time, full-time, temporary, or permanent are required to have knowledge of the security topics listed in 33 CFR 104.225, either through training or equivalent job experience. The Coast Guard is making this change in response to comments from the public and MERPAC indicating a potential for misinterpreting this requirement as not covering contractors or passenger vessels. The 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention (Section A-VI/6) require that all persons employed or engaged on a seagoing ship receive security familiarization. The term “all persons” includes seafarers and other personnel, including contractors, whether part-time, full-time, temporary, or permanent.

In addition, the Coast Guard is making changes to the security application requirements in order to clarify that Regulations VI/5 and VI/6 of the 2010 amendments apply only to vessels of 500 GT or more. The STCW security requirements only apply to vessels subject to the STCW Convention—which are vessels operating beyond the boundary line—except for those vessels listed in § 15.1101 of this final rule. The Coast Guard is making this change in response to comments from the public and MERPAC questioning the proper application of the tonnage limitation required by the STCW Convention. The security requirements in the STCW Convention are meant to support the requirements of the ISPS Code, which applies to vessels of 500 GT or more.

Additionally, the Coast Guard is changing transitional provisions for security awareness and for seafarers with designated security duties by adding grandfathering provisions and deadlines for compliance. The Coast Guard is making this change in response to comments from the public and MERPAC requesting greater clarity on the subject. This change will help mariners meet the implementation date requirements of the 2010 amendments, and will provide mariners further flexibility by allowing them to obtain an STCW endorsement when they have completed a Coast Guard-approved course and/or can provide proof of service onboard vessels. In accordance with Section A-VI/6 of the STCW Convention, these transitional provisions will only be available until March 24, 2014.

The Coast Guard also added a provision permitting mariners to satisfy the security-related training requirements in Regulation VI/6 of the 2010 amendments by complying with 33 CFR 104.220 and 104.225. The Coast Guard made this change in response to a recommendation from IMO Circular STCW.7/Circ.17, published in June 2011, advising Administrations and port state control authorities that mariners may comply with section 13 of the ISPS Code instead of Regulation VI/6 until January 1, 2014. However, the Coast Guard has amended the date to the effective date of this final rule. The Coast Guard has determined that requirements in 33 CFR 104.220 and 104.225 meet the requirements of section 13 of the ISPS Code and is amending § 15.1113 accordingly. This change will promote an orderly transition and help ensure that mariners meet the implementation date requirements.

The Coast Guard is making changes to clarify that the security training requirements in the STCW Convention and Code were developed as a progression where “security awareness” is the lowest level of training, “vessel personnel with designated security duties” is the next-higher level of training, and “vessel security officer” (VSO) is the highest level of training. The Coast Guard agrees with comments from the public and MERPAC suggesting that mariners with a higher level of training should be allowed to serve in positions that require a lower level of training. Under this system, for example, mariners who completed VSO training would be eligible for any position with a security training requirement at the VSO level or lower.

14. Course Approvals

The Coast Guard is changing § 10.402 regarding course approvals in order to implement the IMO model course format and terminology. We made this change in response to comments from the public and MERPAC, who recommended that the Coast Guard minimize administrative burden and cost on training providers by requiring only the information currently required for IMO model courses.

This change will retain an existing industry practice to use the IMO model course format and terminology for the submission of requests for Coast Guard-approved courses. This change will also allow minor modifications to courses to be submitted to the Coast Guard for review without requiring training providers to resubmit the entire course.

15. Quality Standards System (QSS)

In response to comments from MERPAC and the public, the Coast Guard is amending the proposed QSS requirements to include ISM, which is an additional industry-wide system, as an alternate means of compliance with one or more of the QSS provisions. The Coast Guard agrees with these comments because it recognizes that overlapping ISM and QSS requirements allow use of ISM as an alternative to certain corresponding QSS requirements.

Additionally, the Coast Guard is including a deadline for implementation of the QSS requirements. We made this change in response to a commenter who requested clarification of the implementation deadline. This transitional provision will help ensure that all courses, programs, and training creditable towards STCW will meet the requirements of a QSS by January 1, 2017.2

16. Post-Dating of Credentials

The Coast Guard is changing § 10.205 regarding post-dating of credentials, by reducing the permissible post-dating of an MMC renewal from 12 months to 8 months after the date that the Coast Guard accepts a complete application. This change is in accordance with § 614 of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 (Pub. L. 111-281) (as codified in 46 U.S.C. 7302), which only allows post-dating of credentials for up to 8 months.

In addition, the Coast Guard has amended § 10.205 to require automatic post-dating with the option for immediate issuance. The Coast Guard made this change in response to commenters who requested that the Coast Guard ensure that post-dating is automatically completed for every renewal.

17. Retention of Cash Payment for User Fees

The Coast Guard is not including the provisions proposed in § 10.219 of the SNPRM, which would have required user fees to be paid by credit card or electronic payment only. This proposed change would have eliminated the ability for mariners to pay user fees by cash or to attach a check or money order to their application package. Public comment raised concerns that mariners should not be forced to pay by credit card and that not all mariners have credit cards.

The Coast Guard agrees, is not including this proposed requirement, and will continue to accept cash, checks, and money orders, as well as credit cards and electronic payments for MMCs and associated endorsements. The Coast Guard has amended § 10.219 accordingly.

18. Academy Sea-Service Equivalency

The Coast Guard is amending § 10.232 to include sea service credit for cadets serving onboard academy training ships where sea service is part of an approved training program. The Coast Guard made this change based on a comment recommending that the Coast Guard grant 11/2days of sea service credit for each day a cadet serves aboard an academy training ship where sea service is part of an approved training program.

This change is consistent with the Coast Guard's existing practice of crediting academy training ship sea service reported to the International Maritime Organization. To maintain consistency, the Coast Guard is making a similar revision to the definition of “day” in § 10.107.

19. Qualified Assessor (QA) Approval

The Coast Guard is amending the definition of “Qualified Assessor” in § 10.107 in order to clarify this person's role and professional development. We made this change in response to comments from the public and MERPAC, who requested clarification of QA training requirements and approval. This change ensures that any person serving as an assessor for STCW endorsements has demonstrated the requisite level of competence in the task for which the assessment is being made, and has been individually approved by the Coast Guard.

For the same reasons, the Coast Guard is also adding a provision requiring QAs who renew their qualifications to provide evidence of experience, training, or instruction within the past 5 years.

In response to the same comment, the Coast Guard is also amending § 10.405 to ensure that QAs are trained in proper assessment techniques and have completed an “assessor training” course as part of an accepted training program. This topic will be further discussed in the guidance the Coast Guard is developing concerning QAs.

20. Endorsement for Mate of Ocean Self-Propelled Vessels of Less Than 200 GRT

In response to a commenter's request, the Coast Guard is including an endorsement in § 11.425 for mate of ocean self-propelled vessels of less than 200 GRT. We made this change to provide a path of progression to master of oceans self-propelled vessels of less than 200 GRT, and in accordance with Regulation II/3 of the STCW Convention.

21. Electro-Technical Officer/Rating

The Coast Guard is amending § 11.335 and § 12.611 to include additional training topics appropriate for an STCW endorsement for an electro-technical officer and electro-technical rating. We made this change in response to commenters who requested clarification of STCW training and grandfathering requirements applicable to these endorsements. In addition, § 11.335 and § 12.611 are amended to clarify the grandfathering provisions applicable to these endorsements in accordance with the 2010 amendments of the STCW Convention.

22. Manning

In response to commenters' requests, the Coast Guard has included provisions in 46 CFR part 15, subpart H, requiring mariners who serve on vessels subject to STCW to also hold an STCW endorsement appropriate to the tonnage/propulsion power for the vessel upon which he or she is operating. This change ensures consistency with domestic manning requirements and avoids confusion or disagreement with port state inspectors regarding which mariners on U.S. vessels must hold STCW endorsements.

B. Public Comments on the SNPRM

The Coast Guard received more than 900 comments in response to the SNPRM published on August 1, 2011. These comments consist of letters to the docket, remarks at the public meetings in Miami, New Orleans, Seattle, and Washington, DC, comments submitted by MERPAC, and comments submitted by MEDMAC. The following discussion contains an analysis of comments received and an explanation of any changes made to the rule as proposed in the SNPRM.

Several comments note grammatical and non-substantive errors in the SNPRM. The Coast Guard has incorporated these comments, where appropriate, without further discussion.

1. Comment Period

Thirty-two commenters request that due to the complexity and broad ranging impacts of this rulemaking, the Coast Guard extend the comment period beyond the 60 days given in the SNRPM to permit the necessary comprehensive review of the provisions.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention came into force on January 1, 2012. As a signatory State to the Convention, the U.S. needed to demonstrate by that date, or as soon as possible thereafter, that it remains in compliance with its requirements to minimize the risk of U.S. flag vessels being detained in foreign ports. However, while we did not extend the original comment period, we provided an additional 30-day comment period that closed on December 5, 2011 to respond to MERPAC and MEDMAC recommendations (76 FR 68202).

2. Definitions

Two commenters recommend that the Coast Guard amend the definition of “Coast Guard-accepted” because the commenters believe the proposed definition does not take into account Coast Guard-accepted training for instructors, supervisors, or assessors (i.e., Train-The-Trainer courses) or other types of training that are accepted by the Coast Guard to meet the familiarization training requirements of the STCW Convention.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The definition in § 10.107 would include this training even though particular types of training are not explicitly set out in the definition.

Five commenters recommend that the Coast Guard amend the definition of “day.” In their view, the definition for a day should be the same for vessels of every tonnage. If it is a condition of employment to work 12 hours a day, then the mariner should receive 11/2days of sea service even if working on a vessel less than 100 gross tons.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. The definition of day already includes language that vessels allowed to work 12-hour days as defined in the U.S. Code will receive 11/2days sea service credit. However, changes to regulations on this subject are limited by statutory restrictions on the type and tonnage of vessels and the number of watches that may be run. Accordingly, the definition of day permits mariners who work 12- hour days to receive 11/2days of sea-service credit, to the extent permitted by statute.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard amend the definition for “domestic officer endorsement” to provide that the holder of an MMC with this endorsement will be restricted to service on vessels on domestic voyages only.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Vessel manning requirements are specified in part 15 and it would be inappropriate to include them in the definition of the endorsements.

Two commenters recommend that the Coast Guard change the term “domestic officer endorsement” to “national officer endorsement” and “domestic rating endorsement” to “national rating endorsement” to avoid confusion with usage of the term “domestic” in other phrases used throughout the SNPRM.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has changed “domestic endorsement” to “national endorsement” to eliminate confusion.

Thirteen commenters recommend that the Coast Guard amend the definition of “domestic voyage” to include voyages between Washington State and Alaska through the Inside Passage or Mexico and the United States.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has amended the definition to include voyages beginning and ending at a U.S. port and passing through the waters of another country if the U.S. has entered into a treaty or agreement with that country.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard amend the definition of “increase in scope” by citing a few examples. The commenter states that this would help avoid confusion between this term and “raise of grade.”

The Coast Guard agrees. The key distinction between the two definitions is “existing credential.” The Coast Guard has amended both definitions for clarity by adding examples.

Two commenters state that the definitions of “limited” and “restricted” are very similar and should each be more clearly defined to avoid confusion.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. The Coast Guard recognizes that the two terms have been used interchangeably in the past and that there is no consistency in the use of the terms in relation to the title of the credential. The Coast Guard is of the opinion that all limited endorsements or credentials have inherent in their qualifications some sort of constraint which reduces the authority of the credential. Therefore, to avoid confusion, the Coast Guard is deleting, rather than further defining, the two definitions because the terms have the same meaning as in standard English language usage. Five commenters recommend that the Coast Guard amend the definition of “near-coastal” by adding the following sentence: “While a near-coastal endorsement does not preclude its use in another Administration's waters, that endorsement is limited to the near-coastal waters as determined and accepted by the local administration.”

The Coast Guard agrees in part. Amending the definition of “near-coastal” is not necessary because a foreign administration would not be bound to honor such a provision in the Coast Guard's regulations absent an agreement with the United States. The Coast Guard, however, has amended the definition of “domestic voyage” to include voyages beginning and ending at a U.S. port and passing through the waters of another country if the U.S. has entered into a treaty or agreement with that country.

Two commenters recommend that the Coast Guard amend the definition of “overriding operational condition” so that the intent and its use are not abused or over applied.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Because the definition comes directly from the STCW Convention and the meaning of the phrase is straightforward, adopting it in U.S. regulations is not discretionary. Additionally, the definition was written with the flexibility necessary to embrace unforeseen circumstances, which cannot all be listed in this final rule.

Three commenters recommend that the Coast Guard amend the definition of “passenger vessel” in § 11.1103. The commenters expressed concern that all provisions of Regulation V/2 of the STCW Convention and A-V/2 of the STCW Code will be imposed on passenger vessels, when some of the provisions are clearly applicable only to roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) passenger vessels.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. The 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention and Code consolidated passenger vessel requirements, which are applicable to seafarers serving on Ro-Ro passenger vessels. The 2010 amendments also consolidated the requirements applicable to seafarers serving on passenger vessels other than a Ro-Ro passenger vessel. The application of the 2010 amendments is based on the responsibilities of the seafarer onboard the vessels and the type of vessel they served on: (1) Personnel assisting passengers in emergency situations must complete crowd management training; (2) personnel providing direct service to passengers in passenger spaces onboard passenger vessels shall have completed the safety training; (3) personnel with designated responsibility for the safety of passengers in emergency situations onboard passenger vessels must have completed approved training in crisis management and human behavior; and (4) personnel assigned immediate responsibility for embarking and disembarking passengers, loading, discharging or securing cargo, or closing hull openings onboard Ro-Ro passenger vessels shall have completed approved training in passenger safety, cargo safety and hull integrity. To avoid confusion and facilitate the implementation, the Coast Guard has amended § 11.1105 to specify the types of training necessary.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard amend the definition of “Quality Standard Systems or QSS” as it is too vague.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The QSS definition derives from established quality system practices. The provisions in § 10.410 provide further information on the specific elements of the QSS. The Coast Guard will be developing additional guidance on the implementation of the QSS.

Three commenters recommend that the Coast Guard amend the definition of “rest.” In their view, the requirement to record periods of rest either should be placed on the mariner, or be removed in its entirety because employers cannot assure that their mariners actually rest when they are away from the workplace.

The Coast Guard disagrees, and is retaining the existing definition for “rest” in § 10.107. The definition for “rest” is consistent with the STCW convention. The phrase “and is allowed to sleep without interruptions” in the definition does not imply that the master needs to force the mariner to sleep, but that the mariner is afforded time for rest and allowed to sleep. The 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention, specifically Section A-VIII/1, paragraph 7, require that records of daily hours of rest be maintained onboard the vessel. This final rule does not specify who is responsible for recording rest periods because that determination is within the discretion of each vessel master.

One commenter recommends that the term “sailor” be defined in § 10.107 rather than in a portion of a specific regulation (§ 15.705).

The Coast Guard disagrees. Because the Coast Guard's reference to “sailor” is clarified solely for the purpose of part 15, inclusion of the definition in § 10.107 would be inappropriate.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard amend the definition of “seagoing service” to include service on the Great Lakes and inland waters.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The definition is intentionally a general one. The specific requirements for sea service, which may be earned on the Great Lakes and inland waters, and the individual requirements for each credential, are detailed in § 10.232.

One commenter asks for clarification of the definition of “seagoing service.” The commenter asks if it is the Coast Guard's intent that a mariner serving on a vessel that is crewed-up, capable, and occasionally operates outside the boundary line, will receive all seagoing service.

The Coast Guard has expanded the sea service credit requirements in § 10.232 to ensure mariners operating on inland and Great Lakes waters can get credit toward an STCW credential. Therefore, even if the vessel has time on both ocean-going and inland waters, credit will be awarded accordingly.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard amend the definition of “senior company official” by replacing the phrase “a lower level employee” with “a person designated.”

The Coast Guard agrees and has changed “lower level employee” to “another employee.”

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard define the term “training ship” in § 10.109.

The Coast Guard disagrees. A “training ship” as used in § 12.601(b)(1)(ii) is determined by whether or not, and to what extent, the vessel is used as part of an approved program.

Twenty-seven commenters recommend that the Coast Guard delete part (2) of the proposed definition of “utility towing.” They pointed out that TSAC did not recommend part (2), and the proposed definition appears to conflict with the Coast Guard Commandant's ruling in a 2009 USCG District 7 Appeal.

The Coast Guard agrees that further consideration is necessary. Therefore, the Coast Guard is not including the proposed new endorsements for utility towing and harbor assist, and the definition for “utility towing.” Instead, we are retaining the existing definition of “disabled vessel.”

Two commenters recommend that the Coast Guard amend the term “vessel personnel with security duties” to “vessel personnel with designated security duties,” saying that using the latter phrase as it will appear on the MMC endorsement will add consistency and clarity.

The Coast Guard agrees and has added “designated” to the definition. The amended definition is consistent with the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention.

Two commenters recommend that the definition of “vessel personnel with security duties” should state “those with duties as defined in the vessel's security plan or Alternate Security Program.” In their view, clarification is needed so that the skills and abilities an employee brings to the job may be recognized as equivalent to training.

The Coast Guard agrees. The Coast Guard is revising the definition “vessel personnel with designated security duties” to harmonize it with the guidance in Section B-VI/6 of the STCW Code and to ensure consistency with the requirements in 33 CFR 104.220 and 104.225. The expression “with designated security duties” denotes those having specific security duties and responsibilities in accordance with the vessel security plan. The Coast Guard has also amended the requirements in §§ 12.625 and 15.1113 to ensure that the term “vessel personnel with designated security duties” is used throughout.

One commenter recommends that the definition of “Vessel Security Officer or VSO” be amended to “Vessel Security Officer or VSO means a person onboard the vessel accountable to the master, designated by the Company as responsible for security of the vessel, including implementation and maintenance of the Vessel Security Plan, and for liaison with the Facility Security Officer and the vessel's Company Security Officer.”

The Coast Guard disagrees. The requirements for VSOs in § 11.352 are intended to meet the requirements of the STCW Convention. The definition provided in § 10.107 is consistent with the definition in the STCW Convention.

One commenter objects to the Coast Guard changing the format of the definition of “Western Rivers.”

The Coast Guard disagrees. Although the format of the definition was changed from a single paragraph of text to a numbered list, there was no substantive change to the current definition.

3. Medical

One commenter notes that MMCs are valid for 5 years, yet the medical certificates for STCW endorsements are to be updated every 2 years. The commenter poses five questions:

(1) Will the mariner be required to renew his or her STCW endorsements with the Coast Guard every 2 years when the medical certificate is renewed?

No, the medical certificate will be managed as a separate stand-alone document.

(2) Will there be an expiration date within the MMC under the international pages for their physical every 2 years?

No, the medical certificate will be managed as a separate stand-alone document.

(3) Who will track this information if it is not indicated in the MMC?

As with all credentials, it is incumbent upon the mariner to track whether his or her credential is valid. Additionally, it is the responsibility of the company, operator, or master to ensure that persons serving on a vessel hold valid documents, see § 15.401.

(4) How will the requirement be enforced?

This will be enforced through regular inspections, boardings, and company/master verification. It is the responsibility of the company, operator, or master to ensure that persons serving on a vessel hold valid documents, in accordance with § 15.401.

(5) Will the National Maritime Center (NMC) be able to handle the additional work load associated with a 2-year physical as required by the STCW3 ?

It is expected that the NMC will be able to handle the additional workload through a clarification of medical guidelines. Additionally, with more frequent exams there should be the ability to have additional flexibility with certain medical conditions. Although additional funding to support personnel and credentialing activities at the NMC is one of the Coast Guard's many budget priorities, in the absence of additional funding the Coast Guard will continue to evaluate its limited resources and seek efficiencies to best handle the additional workload.

One commenter notes that the requirement for “Medical certificates/endorsements issued to a mariner who is serving as a first-class pilot, or acting as a pilot under § 15.812 of this subchapter, to be issued for a maximum period of 1 year” is inconsistent with Navigation Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 8-94 which indicates that the annual physical exam is only required if serving on vessels greater than 1,600 GRT.

To ensure consistency with 46 U.S.C. 7101(e)(3) and to avoid any ambiguity, the Coast Guard has amended §§ 11.709(b), 11.709(d), and 15.812 for clarity as recommended by the commenter.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard amend the proposed regulations to provide that pilots be issued 2-year, rather than 1-year, medical certificates. In the commenter's view, such a change would not impact public or navigation safety and would provide much needed administrative and workload relief to the Coast Guard's medical review program staff at the NMC.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended § 10.301(b)(2) accordingly.

One commenter believes that this rulemaking is an opportunity to improve marine safety, if implemented effectively. In the commenter's view, 5 years between medical certifications among an aging workforce is not practical. While the direct impact from incidents that are due to medical conditions is unclear from Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board statistics, most operators know it is a major concern, the commenter says, and if established effectively, a new system that better tracks mariner fitness will have major positive effects on keeping mariners and the public safe. Additionally, two commenters believe that additional clarification is required regarding the extent of training, the approval process, and the bodies that would be accepted for the licensing of these designated medical examiners (DME) by the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard disagrees that more frequent medical certificates for all mariners are needed. The Coast Guard is establishing within this rule the process to issue limitations, restrictions, and waivers for medical conditions, which will allow the Coast Guard to track mariner fitness where necessary. Provisions in this final rule will allow for the use of DMEs in the future. Plans are underway for the development of a DME Program, which will address the information sought by this commenter, and the Coast Guard will issue future guidance on this program. During the development of that guidance, the public will be invited to participate to ensure the creation of the best possible system.

One commenter requests that cadets issued endorsements as “cadet (deck) or cadet (engine)” who are enrolled in an approved 4-year academy training program and who have obtained a medical certificate, not be required to obtain another medical certificate until they complete their training and apply for their original MMC as Officer in Charge of a Navigational Watch (OICNW) or Officer in Charge of an Engineering Watch (OICEW).

There are no medical requirements for the “cadet” endorsement in parts 10 or 12 of this final rule. Cadets will not be entitled to receive an STCW endorsement until successful completion of the training program.

Six commenters support the inclusion of the “designated medical examiner” to the list of those who can complete a mariner's physical exam, but do so with concern. They caution not to develop a system that relies too heavily on these designated personnel, which may require a mariner to travel great distances for a physical examination.

The Coast Guard agrees. As previously noted, plans for the development of a DME Program are underway. Changes in this rulemaking will allow for the use of DMEs in the future. The Coast Guard will issue future guidance for the DME Program.

One commenter states that, due to the complexity of the mariner's physical exam, he would not be in favor of the DME being anything other than a licensed medical doctor or licensed nurse practitioner.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. We believe that the physician's assistant has the necessary training and knowledge to conduct a physical examination. Mid-level provider utilization for fitness examinations has been previously implemented with other transportation agencies, such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Furthermore, the DME program has not been developed. During the development process, the public will be invited to participate to ensure the creation of the best possible system.

Three commenters note that in § 15.401(c), the proposed regulation fails to specify an effective date. As it will take mariners and the Coast Guard time to process the required medical examinations and to issue these certificates/endorsements, the commenters recommend a phase-in period be specified in the final rule as recommended by STCW 7/Circ.16.

The Coast Guard has included an implementation date in §§ 15.401 and 15.1103. Compliance with the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention and Code requires that full implementation of the issuance of medical certificates is achieved by 2017. To facilitate implementation, the Coast Guard will start issuing 2-year medical certificates 30 days after the publication of this final rule.

Three commenters state that, with regard to § 15.401(f), this is an improvement over current practice and is strongly supported.

The Coast Guard agrees, and this section remains unchanged from the SNPRM.

Three commenters state that, with regard to the demonstration of physical ability, the Coast Guard has removed the section which allows those applying for entry level positions to demonstrate physical ability, rather than undergo a complete physical examination. The commenters recommend that this section be reinserted.

The Coast Guard agrees, and the text is now included in § 10.304(d)(1)(ii).

Two commenters recommend that the Coast Guard consider publishing a list of acceptable eye tests for Engineers that meet the four-color standard.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has added a new sentence at the end of § 10.305: “The Coast Guard will accept Farnsworth D-15 Hue Test as a color vision test to meet the requirements of this subparagraph.” This test is part of Commission Internationale de l'Eclarage Color Vision Report as part of the recommended testing to qualify for Standard 3. Additionally, the Coast Guard will publish guidance on additional acceptable tests.

One commenter requests that the Coast Guard consider working with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop common medical certificate standards. He also recommends that the Coast Guard accept the results of medical tests conducted in accordance with other agency regulations.

There are no current plans for the Coast Guard to combine medical credentialing with the other transportation agencies. We are currently working with other agencies on a limited basis to improve our medical credentialing process and guidelines.

Thirteen commenters recommend that, with regard to Medical Certification—subpart C, the Coast Guard delay implementation of issuing medical certificates/endorsements for a maximum period of 2 years until the NMC can be properly staffed with trained medical doctors for reviewing medical documents.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Immediate implementation of the STCW 2-year medical certificate is a requirement set by the 2010 amendments to the STCW.

One commenter states that, with regard to § 10.231(c)(8), the Coast Guard must clarify that physicals are still valid for 3 years on a license upgrade.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. The 3-year validity of the physical for license upgrade is only applicable to national endorsements. This is no longer applicable for the issuance of STCW credentials, since the medical certificate is valid for only 2 years. The Coast Guard has amended § 10.231 accordingly to ensure clarity.

One commenter notes that § 10.301(b)(1) states that medical certificates/endorsements issued to a mariner serving under the authority of an STCW endorsement will be issued for a maximum period of 2 years unless the mariner is under the age of 18, in which case the maximum period of validity will be 1 year. The commenter asks what policy and/or procedures will be implemented to ensure that those sailing on the Great Lakes will not have their renewal applications delayed because the evaluators will be unaware that Great Lakes service will not require a biennial physical, in accordance with § 10.301(b)(3).

The STCW Convention does not apply to the Great Lakes; therefore, mariners applying for a medical certificate to serve on these vessels will be issued a 5-year medical certificate. The Coast Guard will develop guidance for the medical evaluators to ensure that the correct requirement is applied to the mariner's application.

Twelve commenters note that the term “medical certificate,” used throughout the rulemaking, is not defined. If it is envisioned that this would be a document separate from a mariner's credential issued by the NMC, the commenters recommend that the item be removed until it can be fully defined.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. Implementation of a 2-year medical certificate is a requirement set by the 2010 amendments to the STCW. A new definition has been added in § 10.107.

Two commenters believe that it is wrong to determine the medical fitness of mariners remotely, based upon the submission of medical records and tests to an evaluator who has not physically examined the mariner. The commenters believe that a process which isolates the evaluator from the mariner results in excessive and expensive medical testing, and lengthy time delays in processing licenses that can interfere with the mariner's ability to rejoin their vessels for scheduled assignments.

Two other commenters state that the new requirement on medical examiners to be Coast Guard certified raises concerns with accessibility, since many mariners live in isolated Alaskan communities and currently use local health care professionals for merchant marine physicals. The commenters expect additional expenses for crewmembers from small coastal communities who will need to travel farther for the new biennially required Coast Guard physicals. The commenters recommend that the Coast Guard either remove the Coast Guard certification requirement from this definition or make a simple, fair, and cost-effective certification process for the limited number of Alaskan medical providers.

Plans for the development of a DME program are underway. Provisions in this final rule allow for the use of DMEs in the future. The Coast Guard is reviewing programs used by other agencies and foreign administrations when developing the maritime model. The Coast Guard will issue future guidance for the DME program. Additionally, it is envisioned that mariners will retain the option to use personal medical providers qualified under § 10.302, which is expected to mitigate the impacts on mariners in remote locations.

One commenter recommends that, with regard to § 10.301, the Coast Guard define what exam requirements IMO and the International Labour Organization (ILO) deem necessary for the 2-year medical exam and consider a modified or limited exam focused on these specific requirements, along with significant changes in health history and medications. This limited exam would be conducted as an interval exam in between the 4- or 5-year complete (Coast Guard Form CG-719K) physical exam.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The examination and reporting requirements in the rule match those from STCW, which requires medical exams every 2 years. The Coast Guard will continue to use one set of forms, the CG-719K and CG-719K/E forms, which contain the exam requirements for all U.S. medical examinations irrespective of the validity dates.

One commenter notes that proposed § 10.304(b) (current § 10.215(d)(2)) states that applicants for food-handler endorsement must obtain a statement from a licensed physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner attesting that they are free of “communicable diseases.” The commenter notes that, aside from the fact that there is no definition provided in 46 CFR part 10 for communicable diseases, this requirement is way too broad and makes it very unclear as to what the physician needs to be looking for.

The Coast Guard agrees and has added a definition of “communicable diseases”.

Twelve commenters note that when a mariner submits an application for examination or renewal and a medical condition requires a review, the time required to complete the review is excessive. The commenters recommend that the Coast Guard provide prescriptive guidance for a mariner's physician to make the sole determination as to whether or not a condition will disqualify a mariner from successfully completing the credentialing process.

The Coast Guard will continue to review determinations of medical disqualification to ensure consistency, oversight, and provide mariners the ability to appeal adverse determinations. Plans for the development of a DME program are underway. Provisions in this final rule will allow for the use of DMEs in the future. The Coast Guard will issue future guidance for the DME program. The Coast Guard is also working with MEDMAC to develop guidance on medical conditions.4

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard retain the existing 5-year rule for validity of medical endorsements.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Implementation of the STCW 2-year medical certificate is required by the 2010 amendments to the STCW and is not discretionary. The United States is obligated, as a signatory to the Convention, to implement the 2-year certificate.

The same commenter suggested, alternatively, that the Coast Guard increase manning at the NMC so that applications for medical endorsements can be completed within a specified time period. The commenter suggests that this evaluation period should be something on the order of 2 weeks from receipt of the application by the NMC. If the application cannot be completed in time, the mariner should be provided with a temporary or conditional medical endorsement. Regarding the determination of fitness for duty, the commenter states that the Coast Guard should adopt language stating that in no case should the medical opinion of any generalist be of a higher priority than the medical opinion of a specialist in their field of specialty practice.

With regard to the commenter's suggestion on the evaluation period, the Coast Guard disagrees. While the average time for evaluating medical fitness is less than 2 weeks, the evaluation may take longer for those with more complex medical conditions. Where a mariner has made a timely application or the Coast Guard has a backlog, his/her credential may be extended. With regard to the comment on fitness for duty, the Coast Guard partially agrees and will continue to review determinations of medical disqualification to ensure consistency, oversight, and provide mariners the ability to appeal adverse determinations. Furthermore, the development of a DME program, including interim authority issues, is underway and should provide some relief to the medical evaluation program. Provisions in this final rule allow for the use of designated medical examiners in the future. The Coast Guard is reviewing programs used by other agencies to assist in developing the maritime model. We intend to work with stakeholders in the development of the DME program and will issue future guidance on this subject. Under the DME program the Coast Guard will ensure these physicians receive training on the maritime industry and the identification of medical conditions that they must refer to the Coast Guard for evaluation.

One commenter stated that a 2-year limit for deep-sea medical examinations seems a bit harsh and could become expensive. Could there be a minimum period of validity of 2 years and a maximum of 3 years? The commenter also suggested that better controls for tracking the pilot submittal for their annual physical should be given some thought.

As discussed above, the Coast Guard disagrees. Implementation of the STCW 2-year medical certificate is a requirement set by the 2010 amendments to the STCW and is not discretionary. The Coast Guard has implemented controls to track submittals from pilots as well as medical waivers. Additionally, with the establishment of medical certificates, it will be easier to track all medical evaluations.

Two commenters are concerned that the NMC Medical Evaluations Division will not be able conduct medical evaluations and issue medical endorsements in a reasonable time frame under its current structure and staffing. Furthermore, the commenters say, the Coast Guard did not include the cost for review and issuance in the proposal. They recommend that the Coast Guard set aside this proposal until it can ensure an efficient, accurate, and timely review of Medical Endorsement applications. Additionally, the commenters believe, the current practice of medical vetting must be revised. This should include the acceptance of reports from medical specialists at “face value.” The commenters believe the Coast Guard should not presume to have general practitioners and/or physician's assistants vetting and “second guessing” the evaluations and reports from medical specialists holding the requisite credentials. The commenters recommend that the Coast Guard put a hold on proposed § 10.301(b)(1) until NVIC 04-08 can be rewritten for a realistic 2-year STCW schedule that will not place a large financial burden on the mariner. They also recommend a suspension until the medical review process can be vastly improved to handle a timely 2-year review process.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Implementation of the STCW 2-year medical certificate is a requirement set by the 2010 amendments to the STCW and is not discretionary. Any delay in implementation will fail to meet the requirements of these amendments, and will subject mariners and vessels on which they serve to an increased risk of port-state detention.

The Coast Guard is taking action in this final rule to minimize the number of mariners who will require more frequent medical evaluation. The Coast Guard also has limited authority to grant interim operating authorization to mariners serving under the authority of an STCW endorsement. The Coast Guard has amended § 15.1103(h)(3) to allow mariners to continue to operate if the mariner's medical certificate expires during a voyage, provided the period after expiration does not exceed 90 days. This is consistent with the STCW 2010 amendments. Additionally, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 provides the Coast Guard with the authority to grant extensions of up to 12 months for national endorsements when the Coast Guard experiences a backlog.

Furthermore, the Coast Guard will be working to develop the DME program to help mitigate any workload issues. Plans for the development of a DME program, including interim authorities, are underway. The Coast Guard is reviewing programs used by other agencies when developing the maritime model, and the Coast Guard intends to work with its stakeholders in the development of the DME program.

The Coast Guard will issue future guidance for the DME program. The use of DMEs will also require the Coast Guard to ensure these physicians receive training on the maritime industry and the medical conditions that must be evaluated by the Coast Guard, using training methods similar to those already employed by other federal agencies. The Coast Guard is also working with the MEDMAC to review and improve policy in this area.

The Coast Guard did not factor in any potential reduction in the cost for review and issuance of medical certificates in the proposal as the degree to which DME will alleviate burden and the timing of a DME program being up and running is still under development. Furthermore, the Coast Guard is seeking and will continue to seek to improve efficiencies in the use of our limited resources, as noted in our response to comment 5 above. The Coast Guard estimated that the costs of implementing the new STCW requirements, including medical, will be less than $4 million on a recurring basis.

Finally, mariners are not paying any fees to the Coast Guard for the review of their medical records and the issuance of their medical certificates, and will not pay any fees associated with the review and issuance of medical certificates. Provisions in this final rule will allow for the use of DMEs in the future.

One commenter notes that the Coast Guard is incorporating STCW revisions to its regulations pertaining to medical standards and that the revisions will increase the frequency of required medical evaluations of mariners from once every 5 years to once every 2 years. However, the commenter believes the 2-year interval will not alert the Coast Guard to significant changes in a mariner's health that might develop within even shorter periods. The commenter recommends that the Coast Guard require mariners to report to the Coast Guard, in a timely manner, any substantive changes in their medical status or medication use that occur between required medical evaluations.

The Coast Guard disagrees. As discussed above, the 2-year reporting interval is consistent with the 2010 amendments. Moreover, there are valid concerns that requiring more frequent medical reporting could overload available medical evaluation staff and heighten the possibility of undesirable processing delays.

One commenter requests that the Coast Guard use the term medical “waivers” appropriately. In the commenter's view, by any common or generally accepted definition, a “waiver” should only be used to describe a situation in which a mariner does not meet the applicable medical fitness standards. Because of mitigating circumstances, however, the NMC “waives” the medical standard or standards and grants the credential or endorsement. To clarify this point, the commenter recommends that the Coast Guard include specific language from NVIC 04-08 dealing with NMC credential issuing actions/options, and that proposed regulation § 10.303(b) be amended.

The Coast Guard agrees. The use of the term “waivers” has caused confusion; therefore the Coast Guard is clarifying the meaning of medical waivers to avoid ambiguity and to improve consistency. A “waiver” will be used to describe a situation in which a mariner does not meet the applicable medical fitness standards. Operational limitations will be issued on medical and physical conditions and restrictions will be issued based upon medical and physical conditions. The operational limitations and restrictions will be reflected in the medical certificate.

The same commenter argues that the distinction between Great Lakes pilots' physical exams and those for other mariners should be eliminated. The commenter recommends that proposed regulations in § 10.302(b) be amended by striking the last sentence of this subparagraph (i.e., “Medical examinations for Great Lakes pilots must be conducted by a licensed medical doctor in accordance with the physical exam requirements in 46 CFR 402.210.”). The commenter states that there is no statutory requirement or policy justification to require Great Lakes pilots to see a “licensed medical doctor” when all other mariners have the option of seeing other types/classes of medical professionals.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The Coast Guard did not propose in this rulemaking any changes to the physical examination requirements for Great Lakes pilots contained in 46 CFR 402.210, but may consider such changes in a future rulemaking. The existing requirement in § 10.215(a)(2) has been moved to § 10.302, but otherwise remains unchanged to ensure that mariners are not confused when applying for a medical certificate.

Two commenters feel that proposed §§ 11.709(b) and (d) are not clear and should be amended to remove ambiguity as to Coast Guard authority with respect to credential invalidation. According to these commenters, amending this proposed regulation would also ensure that the regulation accurately reflects the reality of pilot submission of annual physical examinations.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has amended those sections accordingly.

One commenter states that the Coast Guard/NMC should be given flexibility from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary to utilize existing resources as interim approved DMEs. Most major shipping companies already require annual physicals, so they have developed a network of providers, utilizing both union physicians and private companies, that has been effective in determining mariners' fitness for duty.

The Coast Guard intends to work with its stakeholders in the development of the DME program, and interim authority issues would be addressed in that future DME proposal.

One commenter asks, with regard to § 10.301, why a Coast Guard medical review is required every 2 years for a STCW medical certificate if the mariner is getting a medical review every 5 years for a renewal.

The implementation of the STCW 2-year medical certificate is required by the 2010 amendments to the STCW, and is not discretionary. The United States is obligated, as a signatory to the Convention, to implement the 2-year certificate. This final rule implements the 2-year certificate, which will help ensure the Coast Guard and mariners meet the requirements of these amendments. Mariners to whom STCW applies seeking to renew their MMC may either submit a valid medical certificate or a new form CG-719K.

Five commenters note that the proposed amendments would require endorsement or notation on an MMC every 2 years following a mandatory medical certification. Presently, MMCs are re-issued every 5 years. By requiring medical recertification to be noted on the MMC, this will increase the burden on crewmembers to obtain a new MMC every 2 years. The commenters believe this would result in a waste of resources when crewmembers will not only have to obtain medical certification, but also a new MMC.

The MMC will remain valid for a 5-year period. The Coast Guard has amended § 10.301 and will issue a separate medical certificate with the appropriate validity date through the NMC to avoid overburdening the system and the application process.

Five commenters recommend that the Coast Guard establish a process to grant “interim operating authorization” to mariners who submit their medical information in a timely manner but whose medical certificates cannot be processed by the NMC before expiration of the MMC.

The Coast Guard partially agrees. The Coast Guard has limited authority to grant interim operating authorization to mariners serving under the authority of an STCW endorsement and has amended § 15.1103(h)(3) to allow mariners to continue to operate if the mariner's medical certificate expires during a voyage, provided the period after expiration does not exceed 90 days.5 This is consistent with the STCW 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention. Additionally, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 provides the Coast Guard with authority to grant limited extensions for national endorsements when the Coast Guard experiences a backlog.6

One commenter asks whether the medical certificate is separate from, or part of, a person's Merchant Mariners Document (MMD). If it is a separate certificate, would there be fees for the review and issuance? The commenter notes that there is no mention of this in the rulemaking.

The Coast Guard will issue a separate medical certificate through the NMC. This approach will impose less burden on mariners and the Coast Guard than the production of medical endorsements to be added to the MMC. This final rule does not include additional fees associated with the medical certificate because the Coast Guard will not collect any fees from the mariners for the review of medical records and issuance of medical certificates to mariners.

The same commenter asks if a mariner would be required to pay for and obtain an MMD if the medical certificate is part of a person's MMD, and the mariner was serving on small passenger vessels and not currently required to have an MMD.

The Coast Guard plans to continue the existing practice for personnel who do not hold an MMC or MMD. They will not be required to apply for a separate medical certificate.

One commenter states that the proposed medical document system is overly burdensome to the industry in view of the very small gain in safety that might possibly be achieved.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Implementation of the STCW 2-year medical certificate is a requirement set by the 2010 amendments to the STCW, and is only applicable to seafarers serving on vessels to which STCW applies. The Coast Guard is taking action in this final rule to minimize the number of mariners who will require more frequent medical evaluation by not requiring 2-year medical certificates for mariners seeking only national endorsements. Medical certificates for such endorsements will be valid for 5 years unless the mariner has a limitation, restriction, or waiver for a medical condition. The Coast Guard also has limited authority to grant interim operating authorization to mariners serving under the authority of an STCW endorsement. The Coast Guard has amended § 15.1103(h)(3) to allow mariners to continue to operate if the mariner's medical certificate expires during a voyage, provided the period after expiration does not exceed 90 days. This is consistent with the 2010 amendments. The Coast Guard will also be working to develop the DME program to help mitigate any workload issues, and the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 provides the Coast Guard with the authority to grant limited extensions for national endorsements when the Coast Guard experiences a backlog.

Additionally, unidentified medical conditions can impair a mariner's ability to perform tasks and respond, thus contributing to the human element of casualties. This final rule will require more frequent medical exams for STCW mariners, thus reducing the potential impacts of medical conditions on human error. In combination, the provisions of this final rule are expected to reduce potential for vessel accidents.

In summary, the 2-year medical certificate requirement is consistent with the STCW Convention requirement for seagoing mariners, and strikes an appropriate balance between maritime safety and the administrative processing burden.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard update its medical reporting systems, to take advantage of computer interface capabilities, make it more secure and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliant, prior to requiring mandatory medical certification at a minimum of every other year. Additionally, the commenter believes common sense would dictate scaling frequency of these renewals to a mariner's age. For instance, it's currently 5 years; at age 50, it becomes annual.

The Coast Guard disagrees. We are currently working on improving our medical credentialing process and guidelines and will issue future guidance on this subject. However, we are not planning on delaying implementation of the medical certificate. The 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention and Code requires that full implementation of the issuance of medical certificates be achieved by January 1, 2017. To facilitate implementation, the Coast Guard will start issuing 2-year medical certificates 30 days after the publication of this final rule. In addition, the STCW Convention does not base the frequency of medical examinations on the age of the seafarer. Therefore, there are no plans for age-based examinations at this time.

4. Training

One commenter supports the way the Coast Guard has adopted the STCW standards of competence at the management and operational levels for deck officer endorsements in § 11.301(a). The commenter believes that, by publishing them in the rules, mariners can see the options available to them under STCW. By adhering to the terms of the Convention rather than reflecting the assumed intent of delegates to the IMO, the commenter says, the Coast Guard is meeting its obligations to the international maritime community and U.S. mariners in a responsible, reasonable fashion.

The same commenter stated that the Coast Guard's proposed revision of § 12.605 in response to the comments of MERPAC is laudable. In view of the anticipated changes, the commenter recommends revision of the provisions of NMC Policy Letter 14-02 to reflect these standards.

The Coast Guard is currently reviewing guidance in this area and will consider future revisions to the Policy Letter that might be necessary as a result of this rulemaking.

Thirty-three commenters oppose the introduction of onboard assessments as an alternative to the current regime of structured training. The reasons cited include concerns that this alternative method would result in the degradation of the competency and proficiency of the U.S. mariner, potentially shift the overall training responsibilities to vessel's personnel onboard minimally manned vessels, possibly conflict with STCW Section A-I/6, allow the conduct of assessments that cannot be safely done onboard the vessels, and fail to allow for competencies that are not conducive to self-learning and must be supplemented with formal training.

Thirteen commenters agree with the Coast Guard moving away from only accepting classroom training as demonstration of proficiency for the credentialing of mariners. The commenters state that onboard and on-the-job training should remain an important part of the industry, and support this change.

The Coast Guard responds that the STCW Convention is a competence-based Convention and not a training-based Convention. Further, approved classroom training is not the only means of acquiring knowledge; on the contrary, on-the-job training conveys certain knowledge, understanding and proficiencies more thoroughly and efficiently. The STCW Convention does not specify what competencies (including knowledge, understanding, and proficiencies) require approved, formal training. It is up to the Administration to establish the required training and/or experience necessary to achieve the level of competence, and to establish when and how the training should be obtained.

The Coast Guard recognizes commenters' concerns that shipboard operations might make it challenging for seafarers onboard vessels to train others, particularly when reduced manning, higher mariner workload, and mariner fatigue issues are taken into account. The Coast Guard also recognizes that not all STCW competencies and individual knowledge, understanding, and proficiencies must be accomplished as part of a formal structured, training as there are areas where in-service experience may fulfill the competency requirement. Taking this into account, the Coast Guard reviewed the tables of competencies and identified the training topics that must be accomplished as part of approved formal training.

The increased number of training topics that must be covered by approved training will strike an appropriate balance between providing flexibility and ensuring mariners achieve a sufficient level of competence for STCW endorsements. These training topics in the final rule were part of the extensive list of topics proposed in the NPRM, as well as those listed in the SNPRM. Parts 11 and 12 of this final rule are amended to include a combination of training and in-service requirements, validated through assessments, to ensure that seafarers achieve the necessary level of competence. However, these changes do not prohibit companies and organizations from developing approved in-service training.

One commenter recommends that e-learning not be proctored.

The Coast Guard agrees. E-learning is optional under § 10.412 and Section B-I/6 of the STCW Code, and neither require proctoring of e-learning courses. However, all testing must be proctored to ensure secure procedures for the examination system to prevent cheating. Additionally, all assessments must be monitored by qualified assessors.

One commenter notes that deck officers are spending time with cadets and teaching and assessing them on required tasks, after the cadet learns the material in the classroom. The commenter specifically noted that we can hardly expect an officer to teach a three-star fix, explain a mid-latitude sailing, work an amplitude and do his job, the commenter says. In the commenter's view, not only might a deck officer feel uncomfortable teaching those elements (which are no longer a daily part of his job), there simply may not be the time to do so.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. The SNPRM did not propose to require deck officers to teach cadets onboard. We agree, however, that the development of onboard assessments is not intended as the wholesale transfer of the training of seafarers from shoreside educational establishments to the shipboard personnel responsible for the oversight of the vessel's operation. The Coast Guard recognizes that onboard duties can preclude the time needed to provide a comprehensive training program for subordinates, but that there is still a burden to ensure that they are competent to perform their duties, which include assisting supervisors and other shipboard personnel with their duties. The Coast Guard also recognizes that STCW is a competency-based system and that by differing combinations of exposure, training and self-study each mariner may independently acquire individual STCW competencies while onboard vessels. Therefore, onboard assessments do not contain a training component beyond the feedback needed by the candidates to further develop themselves and should reasonably be within the scope of the duties of an assessor. The Coast Guard will be developing guidance that includes the development of qualified assessors, pertinent guidelines and other standards that will be needed for the successful use of onboard assessments.

A training institution asks the reasons for the Coast Guard's decision to eliminate most of the existing approved education/training and assessor qualifications (§ 11.301(a)(1)) for certification as an OICNW, chief officer, and master on unlimited tonnage vessels. They asked “what prompted the Coast Guard to change its interpretation after 10 years of precedence?”

The 1997 interim rule, implementing the 1995 amendments to STCW with changes to 46 CFR parts 10 and 12, did not limit the permissible means of demonstrating required competencies to formal training. Since the publication of the interim rule, mariners have pointed out the benefit of permitting greater flexibility in demonstrating competence through the many methods allowed by the Code. Further, the SNPRM reflected the more flexible approach to demonstrating competence in the 2010 amendments.

The same commenter asks if the Coast Guard knows of any other flag state that shares this interpretation of STCW competence and training requirements, and if, from a public policy perspective, the Coast Guard believes this change is a reduction in the safety standards for the industry.

The Coast Guard is aware of a number of countries that share parts or all of the interpretations of the flexibilities that exist within the STCW Convention and Code. These flexibilities are the basis for these regulations, which do not represent a reduction in safety standards for the industry. This rulemaking will ensure a consistent implementation of the Convention requirements throughout the industry. A consistent implementation of the proper combination of training, assessment and sea service will further increase safety, security and environmental protection.

One commenter requests that current § 10.404(a)(3), which addresses the use of sea service that is credited as a result of completing an approved course, be clarified.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. We did not propose a change to the existing requirements in this section. However, we included new language in § 10.404(a)(4) to clarify the applicability of this provision to STCW endorsements.

One commenter states that the sections of this SNPRM regarding the training and assessment for OICNW operational level and for chief mate/master at the management level represent a circumvention of the intent and spirit of IMO's Resolution 7—Promotion of technical knowledge, skills and professionalism of seafarers; In particular paragraphs .1 through .4 and .6 of the Resolution.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The use of on-board-training supports the intent of Resolution 7, to ensure that mariners are involved in the development of junior officers to ensure qualified professionals.

One commenter stated that the low level of understanding of basic meteorology exhibited by candidates for endorsement as OICNW extends, to a lesser degree, to sailing Masters “grandfathered before STCW.” The commenter recommends that the Coast Guard review the Detailed Teaching Syllabus from IMO model course Section 11 and require that OICNW candidates be required to complete this course.

The Coast Guard agrees. Meteorology was added to the list of training subjects that must be completed as part of structured training at the operational level.

Two commenters like the option of using alternate methods of demonstrating competence.

One commenter states that the Coast Guard should task MERPAC with reviewing the training areas for all ratings/licenses to ensure developing technologies and operations are incorporated into the requirements in a timely manner. The commenter states that a comprehensive review by MERPAC relative to these concerns is warranted and will be valuable in assuring the necessary competencies are required for mariners holding specific endorsements.

The Coast Guard agrees, and asked MERPAC, in task statement 75, to review the STCW SNPRM and provide comments and recommendations to the Coast Guard, including: (1) Developing a list of training elements (in addition to those in the proposed SNPRM) for operational and management level deck and engineer officers, where and if appropriate, that should be completed as part of a structured program/training course to address the knowledge, understanding, and proficiencies (KUPs) in the competence tables; and (2) identifying which of the training elements can be accomplished onboard vessels, and which could better be accomplished ashore in a formal classroom setting.

During its October 5, 2011, meeting, MERPAC recommended the competencies that must be subject to formal training and also recommended that the content of the training should be appropriate to the tonnage, route and/or type of vessel. The Coast Guard agrees with some of the areas identified by MERPAC concerning formal training and has amended part 11, subpart C, and part 12, subpart F, of this final rule to include a combination of training and in-service requirements (validated through assessments) to ensure that the seafarers achieve the level of competence. These formal training topics were part of the NPRM published in 2009.

One commenter recommends that consideration be given to authorizing approved training facilities that meet Coast Guard and STCW quality system standards to issue certificates of proficiency on completion of an approved course and assessment that would be accepted by the Coast Guard as meeting the requirements for STCW endorsement.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The STCW Convention authorizes the issuance of “certificates of proficiency” by training institutions for some of the competency requirements. However, authorizing training institutions to issue certificates of proficiency places additional burdens on them, and would create significant oversight difficulties. Training institutions would be required to deal with port state control authorities around the world on confirmations of the validity and authenticity of the document issued by the institution. Authorizing training institutions to issue certificates of proficiency would also require those institutions to be responsible for preventing the issuance of fraudulent certificates and ensuring they meet a standardized format.

One commenter recommends that § 12.623(a)(2)(ii) be deleted as there are currently no approved Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) maintainer courses in the United States and there are no published guidelines for what such a course should contain. Alternatively, the commenter says, the Coast Guard should publish course guidelines/criteria for development of a GMDSS maintainer course.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. Until such time as the Coast Guard establishes criteria for and approves such “GMDSS at sea maintainer courses,” § 12.623(a)(2)(ii) will not be a viable option to demonstrate competency. Nonetheless, the Coast Guard has included this option because it intends to soon begin the process of promulgating guidelines for GMDSS course content and approval.

One commenter recommends that, in § 11.305(d), allowance should be made for a mariner to crossover from the 500-1,600-ton master to second mate, then with training and sea service progress to unlimited master, such as the progression in § 11.404.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The Coast Guard is providing this career progression in § 11.305(d) in support of STCW Regulation II/2. The length of qualifying service required for master and chief mate on vessels of 3,000 GT or more in STCW Regulation II/2, paragraph 2, is the same as that required for master and chief mate on vessels of between 500 and 3,000 GT in paragraph 4 of the same regulation. This career progression recognizes that service, and provides a method for mariners holding the lower tonnage credential to obtain the master of vessels of 3,000 GT or more upon completion of additional service and any assessments that have not been completed.

One commenter notes that proposed § 10.404(a)(3) states that: “Unless otherwise allowed, training obtained before receiving an endorsement may not be used for subsequent raises of grade, increases in scope, or renewals.” The commenter says that this provision would discourage OICNW candidates from pursuing training beyond the minimum required. If they opt to receive training in higher level professional abilities at the management level, they become more valuable to the safe operation of the vessel, the commenter states, and they can benefit from practical experience by applying those higher abilities at the operational level to assist senior officers.

In addition, one other commenter states that, with regard to § 10.404(a)(3), unless there are provisions made within this section, individuals may need to take the same class twice to receive or to maintain a credential when upgrading or increasing the scope of their license. The commenter states that this is an expensive and unnecessary training requirement.

The Coast Guard partially agrees. The existing requirements in § 10.404(a)(3) apply to national endorsements where the training is used in “lieu” of “service” or “exam.” This requirement is not applicable to STCW provisions, since the Convention allows for the attainment of training and assessment for management level at the operational level. The Coast Guard has added § 10.404(a)(4) to ensure that this does not apply to STCW courses.

One commenter asks if, with regard to §§ 11.309(a)(4)(iii) and 11.319(a)(5)(iii), it would be possible to include Standard Marine Communication Phrases (SMCP) training in the “Flashing Light” course requirement for STCW.

The Coast Guard allows training providers broad discretion in determining how to establish their courses and programs, and the course can be approved to meet both requirements. The Coast Guard will allow training providers to include the SMCP training in a “Flashing Light” course, but will not require it.

The same commenter asks if the same methods of demonstrating competence will be allowed for chief mates in the future. In other words, will the course requirements for advancing to chief mate no longer be mandatory?

Section 11.307 of this final rule requires the completion of approved training in several subject areas for an endorsement as chief mate on vessels of 3,000 GT or more. That section specifies the acceptable methods of demonstrating competence and the training requirements for this endorsement.

One commenter requests that, with regard to the Towing Officer Assessment Record (TOAR), sections for barge work be allowed on simulators and a DE should be authorized to sign off on them.

The Coast Guard agrees but does not believe a change to the rule is needed. The guidance in NVIC 4-01 allows for the use of simulators in this case.

One commenter asks if consideration has been given to modifying § 11.516(a)(6) to change the present 3-year requirement for an accepted training program for an original unlimited third assistant engineer horse power license to some shorter period of time.

The Coast Guard agrees and has removed the 3-year duration in § 11.516(a)(6) for the training program because each program will be evaluated based upon its individual merits and its ability to provide the theoretical knowledge, understanding and proficiency to enable the candidate to serve as third assistant engineer.

One commenter recommends removal of the requirement in §§ 12.501 and 12.607 for holding/service as a Qualified Member of the Engine Department/able seafarer-engine for engineer officer credentials.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The requirements to become an engineering officer are contained in § 11.516 and not in §§ 12.501 or 12.607. We are keeping the requirement in § 11.516 for service as QMED as part of an option to become a third assistant engineer “coming up through the hawsepipe.” There are five classes of QMED listed in § 12.501 through which this service can be met; some stand watch, while others don't. The Coast Guard does not wish to restrict mariners from these choices. Candidates for third mate and rating forming part of a navigational watch need directed watchstanding duty experience, whereas third assistant engineer and ratings forming part of an engineering watch candidates can gain relevant experience sailing in any of the QMED ratings.

One commenter proposes, that because of the burdens imposed by STCW on domestic mariners, that the United States, pursuant to Article XV of the SCTW Convention, advise the IMO that the U.S. domestic credentialing program is “sufficient for mariners serving on vessels of 200 to 1,600 GRT (500 to 300 tons IRT) in domestic coastwise waters.”

The Coast Guard disagrees. Although Article XV provides for a country's withdrawal from the entire Convention, it does not allow a country to opt out of certain provisions of the Convention to which it does not agree. Additionally, it is the Coast Guard's view that, overall, the requirements of STCW are justified in the interests of safety, security, and protection of the marine environment. Finally, recognizing that STCW allows a variety of ways for a mariner to demonstrate competence other than formal classroom training, this final rule now includes implementation of assessment-based processes that allow acceptance of these various methods.

One commenter states that the SNPRM preamble, on page 45917, says that § 10.401 revises the applicability to include training programs, but the commenter can't find that in the cited section. Is it someplace else?

The requirements in § 10.401 apply to both approved courses and training programs.

5. Utility and Harbor Assist Towing

One commenter states that he is a Commercial Tow Boat Operator on Lake Washington, and that he typically moves boats (18′ to 40′) to a repair shop, not unlike taking your car to a shop with a flat tire. He asks if someone can tell him why he would need to have any special treatment or license to do this.

Under section 8904 of 46 U.S.C., mariners towing a disabled vessel for compensation must be credentialed by the Coast Guard. Additionally, if the towing vessel is greater than 26 feet in length, the operator must be credentialed by the Coast Guard to operate the vessel in the location.

One commenter states that the practical demonstration required in § 10.227(e)(6) is too vague, that the assessment and its conditions need to be further defined. According to the commenter, “ongoing participation in training and drills during the validity of the license or MMC may be used to renew but this section does not define what type of training or drills are required. This section should define these issues.”

The Coast Guard disagrees. The Coast Guard has provided the towing industry the documentation being sought for this issue through guidance in NVIC 04-01 revision 1. The review of NVIC 04-01 and the TOARs is ongoing with the TSAC task statement 08-01.

Two commenters recommend that, with regard to the provision for new towing endorsements included in the SNPRM, the Coast Guard remove these provisions and transfer them to the new subchapter M proposed rulemaking dealing with the inspection of towing vessels. In the commenters' view, the creation of the new towing endorsements is unrelated to the STCW, raises serious safety concerns, and should not be fast-tracked as part of a final rule to implement the STCW amendments.

In addition, seven other commenters oppose the creation of the new master of towing (utility) and master of towing (harbor assist) licenses.

The Coast Guard is not including in this final rule the endorsements for apprentice mate (steersman) of towing (utility), master of towing (utility), and master of towing (harbor assist) that were proposed in §§ 11.466(c), 11.464(d), and 11.464(e) of the SNPRM. Public comment raised sufficient concerns with these provisions, as discussed below in “Discussion of Public Comments,” that the Coast Guard wants to seek additional comment from the industry. We are currently considering moving the issue to another rulemaking and seeking additional input from TSAC, which would give the public additional time to comment on this matter. However, we are retaining the existing definition of “disabled vessel.”

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard look closely at the requirements of the model TOAR in NVIC 4-01 to ensure that they are easily used for all towing vessels without imposing a towing requirement which is inconsistent with a vessel's design or capability.

This issue is outside the scope of this rulemaking. TSAC is currently amending NVIC 4-01—Model TOAR under task statement 08-01.

6. Chief Engineer (Limited Near-Coastal)

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard amend § 11.512. The minimum service required to qualify an applicant for endorsement as first assistant engineer of steam, motor, and/or gas turbine-propelled vessels is 1 year of service as an assistant engineer while holding a license or MMC endorsement as second assistant engineer. The commenter states that service as a chief engineer (limited-oceans/limited-near-coastal) supersedes that of an assistant engineer (limited). However, the NMC does not recognize this, thereby refusing to accept service as chief engineer (limited-oceans/limited-near-coastal) in the same manner as assistant (limited).

The Coast Guard agrees with including sea service as chief engineer (limited) as an option in the service requirements for first assistant engineer and has amended § 11.512 accordingly. Please note, as discussed below, that the Coast Guard has eliminated the chief engineer (limited near-coastal) endorsement and dropped the “Ocean” designation from both chief and assistant engineer (limited). Also included in this rulemaking is a crossover path from assistant engineer (limited) to third assistant engineer.

One commenter recommends that all engineers who hold a license as chief engineer (limited) 1,600 GRT near-coastal or ocean prior to January 1, 2013, should be given an STCW endorsement as chief engineer meeting the requirements of STCW III/2, but with a tonnage limitation to 1,600 GRT. Evidence of meeting the standard of competence for leadership and management skills and for management of electrical and electronic control equipment should be required at the first renewal of such an endorsement, the commenter says.

The Coast Guard disagrees with the suggestion that mariners holding certain national endorsements be “given” an STCW endorsement. Most national credential holders qualify in some way for an STCW endorsement; however, they must also meet the additional STCW sea service, training, and/or assessments involved, as appropriate. These mariners are able to apply for a particular STCW endorsement outlined in the relevant crossover table in the STCW sections of the rule (part 11, subpart C, and part 12, subpart E).

The same commenter recommends that all engineers who currently hold a license as chief engineer (limited near-coastal) should be upgraded to chief engineer (limited-ocean) 1,600 GRT without further sea service or testing requirements and given the same STCW III/2 endorsement restricted to vessels less than 1,600 GRT.

The Coast Guard agrees in part and has amended the regulations to remove chief engineer (limited near-coastal). New applicants for chief engineer (limited) and those wishing to upgrade from near-coastal to the new, single credential will have to sail the additional year already specified in the regulations. Current mariners who hold a chief engineer (limited near-coastal) credential may continue to renew that credential. However, since the written examination for both chief engineer (limited) categories are identical, those mariners going from chief engineer (limited near-coastal) to chief engineer (limited) will not be required to take an examination.

Five commenters recommend that the Coast Guard eliminate the chief engineer (limited near-coastal) license and replace it with a chief engineer (limited) license limited to vessels less than 1,600 GRT, unlimited horsepower (HP). Consistent with the corresponding service requirements for deck licenses, the commenters recommend that the service time required for a chief engineer (limited) license also be reduced from 5 years to 4 years. There are many unlicensed engineers and limited scope licensed engineers who perform duties and have responsibility as engineer aboard vessels sailing internationally. The commenters recommend grandfather provisions for these engineers upon proof of sea service. They feel that these mariners should be granted a limited-scope license and an STCW endorsement that allows them to continue to serve in the capacity in which they have sailed. The commenters state that this limitation could be restricted to a specific type of vessel, tonnage, and/or equipment the Coast Guard finds appropriate, but it is crucial that these qualified mariners are able to continue sailing.

The Coast Guard agrees in part and has amended the regulations to remove chief engineer (limited near-coastal). New applicants for chief engineer (limited) and those wishing to upgrade from near-coastal to the new single oceans credential will have to sail the additional year already specified in the regulations, for a total of 5 years. However, since the written examination for both chief engineer (limited) categories are identical, those mariners going from chief engineer (limited near-coastal) to chief engineer (limited) will not be required to take an examination. The Coast Guard does not agree with the request to reduce service time from 5 years to 4 years as it is inconsistent with the STCW Convention and Code.

One commenter believes that limiting the geographical routes for an engineer's license to anything other than near-coastal or oceans is superfluous. The commenter states that limits of 1,000 HP are also fairly useless since few towing vessels for offshore service are so underpowered, and that a limit of 4,000 HP is more realistic.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Current national standards apply to more than towing vessels and are also applicable to all vessels of less than 1,600 GRT. Further, the Designated Duty Engineer (DDE) endorsements carry not only horsepower restrictions but also tonnage and route restrictions. Industry has demonstrated a use for the 1,000 HP endorsement. Therefore, we are retaining it in subpart E of part 11. Additionally, we have eliminated the chief engineer (limited near-coastal) endorsement from § 11.520. All limited engineers are now authorized to sail upon oceans on vessels of less than 1,600 GRT but are not restricted as to horsepower.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard amend § 11.510, which sets out the service requirements for domestic endorsements as chief engineer of steam, motor, and/or gas turbine-propelled vessels. As proposed in the SNPRM, the section accepted service as a first assistant engineer or while holding a license or MMC endorsement for that position. The commenter points out that chief engineer (limited-oceans/limited-near-coastal) and assistant engineer (limited) are recognized as “management level” endorsements. Therefore, the commenter says, this section should be amended to include the following: Service as chief engineer (limited oceans/limited near-coastal) or assistant engineer (limited), while holding a license as first assistant engineer, is creditable as first assistant engineer on a two-for-one basis (2 days of service creditable as 1 day) on vessels over 1,600 GRT and over 4,000 HP, applicable to 100 percent of the total required service.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended § 11.510 to allow creditable sea service as the commenter suggests.

7. Articulated Tug Barges (ATBs)

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard reconsider its present position in the SNPRM, and adopt a regulation or policy whereby inland tug-barge combinations are accepted in computing license tonnage ratings as they presently are for ITB and ATB service.

In order to facilitate the towing industry's need for career paths to retain highly-skilled personnel, the Coast Guard has amended text in §§ 10.232 and 11.211 to accept certain towing vessel service based on the aggregate tonnage of the tug and barge(s) when greater than 1,600 GRT. This service will be accepted only when properly documented by the towing company.

One commenter notes that § 11.211(d) provides specific sea service credit for ATBs. The commenter asks how far back will the Coast Guard grant sea service credit with proper documentation on an ATB.

Service on ATBs will be accepted subject to the same time considerations as service on other vessels. Generally, the only applicable conditions are that a portion of a mariner's qualifying service must meet the “recency” requirements of § 11.201(c).

One commenter notes that § 11.463(g) acknowledges that the Coast Guard will issue a towing endorsement restricted to specific types of vessels, such as ATBs. It has been accepted that not all tasks on a TOAR apply to an ATB and, consequently, someone on an ATB may not be able to obtain a completed TOAR. In the commenter's view, § 11.464(i) should contain a provision to authorize an ATB endorsement for mariners who are unable to complete the TOAR because some requirements in the TOAR do not apply or the equipment is not specifically fitted on an ATB. The same provision should be made in § 11.465(d)(2).

The Coast Guard disagrees. Both sections reference the requirements for a TOAR in § 10.404(c). This section requires mariners to complete a TOAR approved by the Coast Guard. Additionally, the regulations and implementing policy provide mariners the opportunity to revise the TOAR to make it appropriate for the vessel upon which they serve, if they get those changes approved by the Coast Guard. As part of the approval, the Coast Guard will note the routes and/or vessels for which the TOAR is approved. Mariners serving on ATBs will be considered to have met the requirement to hold a completed TOAR if they have completed the Coast Guard-approved TOAR for ATBs on the applicable routes.

Three commenters recommend that if the Coast Guard intends to credit ATB sea time the same as unlimited vessels, the Coast Guard is obligated to ensure that these combined tonnage vessels are manned as ships, inspected as ships, and that the crews and vessels meet all international conventions as ships. Two of the commenters further recommend that sea service credit for ATBs should be limited to no more than one day of sea service credit for every 3 days served, up to a maximum of 6 months credit toward a raise in grade of unlimited level licenses. The third commenter recommends that the Coast Guard award sea service credit for mariners serving on ATBs on a 2 for 1 basis (2 days of service is awarded 1 day of sea service credit).

The Coast Guard disagrees. The proposed standard provides a comparable service credit to the existing regulations, and there is no evidence to demonstrate that it would increase risk in marine transportation.

Three commenters state that, in § 11.211(d), service on ATBs or sophisticated tank barges should be permissible to qualify for a tankerman-PIC endorsement.

The Coast Guard agrees. The Coast Guard has amended § 13.127 to accept service onboard some ATBs toward the national and STCW tankerman endorsements (including tankerman-PIC), provided the ATB equipment is equivalent to comparable tankship equipment. This change is necessary to ensure career paths and to facilitate the use of new ATBs as qualifying platforms for tankerman endorsements. In addition, the Coast Guard has provided a means for mariners serving on tank barges to qualify for an STCW endorsement with a limitation to non-self-propelled vessels.

8. Manning

Thirty-four commenters were concerned that, as worded, § 15.515(b) would not allow passenger vessels with the minimum crew complement required by the Certificate of Inspection (COI) to conduct drills or shore side operations (like vehicle inspections) requiring crew members to be off the vessel. The commenters recommend that the Coast Guard clarify that the crew complement required by the COI may be off the vessel in rescue boats or shore side as needed to accomplish routine operations or emergency response and drills.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Due to passenger vessels' minimum manning, it is essential for the safety of the passengers to ensure there are sufficient personnel on the vessel to respond to emergencies and passenger needs.

One commenter states that the proposed change to the 4-on-8-off watch schedule would greatly affect working conditions on ships such as his, working in inland waters on a 6-on-6-off watch schedule.

The Coast Guard disagrees. We have not proposed to require a 4-hours-on, 8-off watch schedule in § 15.1111. The section requires that all mariners subject to STCW must receive: (1) A minimum 10 hours of rest in any 24-hour period; and (2) 77 hours of rest in any 7-day period. Mariners subject to STCW, such as the commenter, who work on vessels utilizing a 6-on, 6-off watch schedule, would be given sufficient rest, receiving 12 hours of rest in any 24-hour period, and 84 hours of rest in a 7-day period.

One commenter states that, in § 15.403(c), the phrase “each person serving as an able seafarer-deck” could lead to confusion because of the lack of a definition of that individual. The commenter recommends that it be clearly stated that A/B-deck is equivalent to able seaman (A/B), which is consistent with the qualification standards in § 12.603.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended §§ 15.404(b) and 15.404(d)(3) accordingly.

One commenter states that in § 15.404(b), which sets out certain requirements for serving aboard a vessel, the last sentence makes it sound like all persons on a vessel must comply, not just those serving as a rating as A/B. The commenter recommends that the application of this provision should be clarified to affect just those endorsement holders who are serving to fill a manning standard.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended the last sentence in § 15.404(b) to read “Each person serving as a non-watchstanding A/B on vessels must also hold an STCW endorsement as able seafarer-deck.”

One commenter asks, with regard to § 12.603, which sets out requirements to qualify for an STCW endorsement as able seafarer-deck, how the COIs will be worded. Will COIs now list both domestic and STCW endorsements required?

COIs will list both national and STCW endorsements. The Coast Guard will be revising safe manning documents to be consistent with the changes in this final rule.

One commenter notes that § 15.1105 does not reference the STCW-required security familiarization.

At this time, the Coast Guard intends to satisfy the STCW 2010 amendments regarding security familiarization requirements through the regulations in existing 33 CFR subchapter H, subpart B, which require that mariners meet the knowledge requirements via training or equivalent job experience. The requirements in 33 CFR 104.220 and 104.225 meet the requirements for familiarization training. If any changes to 33 CFR 104.220 and 104.225 are needed, the Coast Guard will consider including them in a separate, future rulemaking.

Three commenters believe that the requirements of proposed § 15.1113 are written for a cargo vessel, where the entire vessel is defined as a secure or restricted space, and does not take into account the operation of a typical passenger vessel, on which most spaces are open to the general public.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. The 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention (Section A-VI/6) require that all persons employed or engaged on a seagoing vessel receive security familiarization. The requirements will apply equally to both cargo and passenger vessels. The term “all persons” includes seafarers and other personnel, including contractors, whether part-time, full-time, temporary, or permanent.

As discussed above, the Coast Guard intends to meet the STCW 2010 amendments regarding security requirements via the regulations in 33 CFR subchapter H, specifically 33 CFR 104.225, which requires that all contractors, whether part-time, full-time, temporary, or permanent, must have knowledge on a number of topics, through training or equivalent job experience. Accordingly, the Coast Guard has amended § 15.1113 to ensure that all contractors, whether part-time, full-time, temporary, or permanent, must have knowledge of the topics listed in 33 CFR 104.225 through training or equivalent job experience.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard amend § 15.1113 to read as follows:

(a) Onboard a seagoing vessel of 200 GRT/500 GT or more:

(1) All persons performing duties as Vessel Security Officer (VSO) must hold a valid endorsement as VSO;

(2) After July 1, 2012, all personnel with designated security duties must hold a valid endorsement as vessel personnel with designated security duties, or a certificate of course completion from an appropriate Coast Guard-accepted course meeting the requirements of 33 CFR 104.220; and

(3) After July 1, 2012, all other vessel personnel, including contractors, whether part-time, full-time, temporary, or permanent, must hold a valid endorsement in security awareness, or a certificate of course completion from an appropriate Coast Guard-accepted course meeting the requirements of 33 CFR 104.225.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended § 15.1113 to address the following issues: (1) Provide for the appropriate application to vessels over 500 GT; (2) include all transitional provisions from the STCW Convention applicable to existing mariners; (3) include an implementation date of March 24, 2014, for new mariners; (4) amend the requirements applicable to contractors and other personnel to ensure that they do not have to obtain an endorsement; and (5) ensure persons meeting the VSO requirements are considered to have met the requirements of training for personnel with or without security duties.

Two commenters recommend that the Coast Guard review the language in § 15.812(a)(1) to ensure that the intent of this section is not to require “all coastwise towing vessels,” which are propelled by machinery and subject to inspection under 46 U.S.C. chapter 33, to carry a pilot irrespective of whether they are actually engaged in towing.

The Coast Guard proposed no changes to existing § 15.812(a)(1), and that provision remains unchanged in this final rule. For that reason, the commenter's request to revise the conditions under which coastwise towing vessels are required to carry a pilot is outside the scope of the rulemaking. The Coast Guard may consider this matter in a future, separate rulemaking.

Two commenters recommend that, in order to avoid confusion (or disagreement with port state control on what endorsements are required for mariners on towing vessels), the Coast Guard should work with vessel owners to clarify, on a vessel's Safe Manning Document, what STCW requirements must be met (e.g., 1 master (STCW III/2), 2 licensed mates (STCW III/1), etc.).

The Coast Guard agrees and is amending the manning requirements in §§ 15.805 and 15.810 accordingly. Furthermore, the Coast Guard will be revising safe manning documents to be consistent with the changes in this final rule.

Fifteen commenters note that, throughout the current language of Part 10 of title 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations, there remain inaccurate and outdated statements that mariner credentials are valid only when accompanied by a current Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC). Since enactment of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 (section 809 of Pub. L. 111-281), these are incorrect statements as a matter of law. Section 809 relieved a mariner with a Coast Guard credential who does not need unescorted access to a secure or restricted space on a vessel that has a Coast Guard-approved vessel security plan (as required by the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2004, as amended) from the requirement of obtaining a TWIC. The commenters recommend that references to TWIC should be altered to state “if required” or “as appropriate.”

The Coast Guard agrees, and is in the process of amending the TWIC requirements in a separate rulemaking (RIN 1625-AB80). Additionally, the Coast Guard recently published CG-CVC Policy Letter 11-15 to revise the credentialing enforcement in regard to TWIC.

One commenter states that the SNPRM creates a de facto manning requirement for any vessel subject to STCW to carry a chief engineer. As the STCW Convention only draws restrictions for chief engineer endorsements by horsepower, and most seagoing towing vessels are well over 4,000 HP, the commenter states that the regulations will effectively make an unlimited chief engineer endorsement required on all towing vessels. The commenter recommends that the Coast Guard take steps to minimize the impact of this rule and assure that the United States meets the requirements of the STCW convention.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. Those mariners sailing with chief engineer (limited) and DDE-unlimited endorsements may obtain a corresponding STCW endorsement at the management level without raising the grade or increasing the scope of their national endorsement under §§ 11.325, 11.327, and 11.331.

One commenter recommends that, with regard to existing mariners, the Coast Guard expand the grandfathering provisions so that chief engineer endorsements may be issued for engineers who are already deemed qualified and currently sail as engineers on seagoing towing vessels over 4,000 HP. Upon appropriate presentation of proof of sea service, the commenter recommends that these mariners be granted a limited-scope license and STCW endorsement that allows them to continue to serve in their current capacity.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Paths for existing mariners with national engineering endorsements to obtain an STCW endorsement are already included in §§ 11.325, 11.327, 11.329, and 11.331.

One commenter notes that developing future mariners for engineering licenses will be more difficult. The engineering department for towing vessels have historically consisted of one-man engine departments, with future engineers being developed by identifying talented and motivated deckhands or mechanics and training them as an extra person under the tutelage of the engineer for several months (and, often augmented by professional classroom training) until they are deemed qualified. One possible solution to this, the commenter says, is to ensure that safe manning certificates for these vessels only require a DDE and OICEW (III/1). The commenter states that this is also appropriate, as from a competency-based evaluation, an operational-level engineer is all that is required to operate these engine rooms due to the level of support from shoreside management in management-level tasks.

The Coast Guard disagrees that a change in the proposed rule is necessary. Under existing regulations, engineers are developed through on-the-job training and formal courses. The commenter's suggested solution is already allowed under current regulations, and the cognizant Officer in Charge, Marine Inspection (OCMI) has the authority to set manning requirements on a vessel's COI.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard make the electro-technical officer (ETO) and electro-technical rating positions mandatory on a vessel's COI.

The Coast Guard disagrees. We are not planning to require these two positions at this time in §§ 11.335 and 12.611. Not all vessels require an ETO or rating. There is no identified need at this time.

9. Transitional Provisions

One commenter states that §§ 11.493 through 11.497 seem to be inconsistent with the underlying concept of a domestic credential forming the “base” document upon which an individual can receive an STCW endorsement. If the primary requirement for these endorsements is that an individual meet the standard for the STCW endorsement, the commenter asks, why not simply put these sections in Subpart C? In the commenter's view, it seems unsupportable to require an applicant for OSV mate to meet the full requirements for OICNW in § 11.309 and then serve an additional 12 months to cross over to an STCW OICNW as stated in Table 11.309(e).

The Coast Guard partially agrees. The Coast Guard amended §§ 11.491, 11.493, 11.495, and 11.497 to separate the national and STCW credentials to ensure consistency with other endorsement requirements. The Coast Guard made additional changes to the OSV endorsements for both deck and engineer officers to include: (1) Sea service requirements comparable to other credentials; (2) the option to complete an approved course for a mate or assistant engineer to meet the sea service requirements; and (3) the progression from vessels less than 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT to more than 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT for chief mate and master. These changes also address the recent passage of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 (Section 617) and the removal of the 500 GRT tonnage limits on OSVs. These amendments will ensure that mariners with existing licenses or MMCs will have the opportunity to progress to higher credentials.

One commenter states that the value of the transitional provisions will depend on the date of the requirement to hold an STCW endorsement as able seafarer-Deck in accordance with §§ 15.403(c) and 15.1103(b). If that requirement comes into force on January 1, 2012, the commenter says, it will be impossible for mariners to receive the proper endorsements by the end of this year, even under the transitional qualification requirements. The commenter recommends that the Coast Guard set a date of compliance that will give the affected mariners and the NMC enough time to process the applications required.

The Coast Guard agrees. To ensure an orderly transition consistent with STCW, full implementation and compliance is expected to be achieved by January 1, 2017. The Coast Guard amended § 15.1103 to reflect full compliance by January 1, 2017.

10. Assessments

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard amend § 11.323(b)(2) by specifying the reference to “steam” distilling plants in proposed § 11.323(b)(2) and also recommends adding “or completing STCW boiler competencies” after “accepted training” to allow demonstration of proficiency in addition to training.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The common limitations placed on an engineering credential will be for service on vessels without certain equipment, including auxiliary boilers, waste heat boilers, distilling plants, oily water separators, and sewage treatment plants. An applicant may remove any limitation at any time by demonstrating the appropriate competencies. Although the Coast Guard disagrees with the comment, we updated and clarified § 11.323(b)(2) by including oily water separators and sewage treatment plants as additional limitations, and revising the method available to an applicant to remove these restrictions for his or her MMC.

One commenter asks whether, if the Coast Guard allows onboard assessments for meeting portions of the STCW standards of competence, those vessels will be required to meet the same QSS as outlined in § 10.410 since they are in effect acting as a “training provider.” Onboard assessments are not training, the commenter states, and therefore, they should not have to meet the requirements for a QSS.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Because onboard assessments are not training, they will not have to meet the requirements for a QSS. However, the Coast Guard will be developing guidance for the training and certification of qualified assessors and will be implementing an oversight process for them as part of that guidance.

One commenter states that requiring the knots to be demonstrated as part of a Coast Guard-approved course (see § 12.405(c)) is unduly restrictive. The commenter recommends accepting this demonstration if it is performed as a Coast Guard-approved assessment without the framework of a course, in the same way as many of the proficiency demonstrations required for an STCW officer endorsement.

The Coast Guard agrees. In general, the Coast Guard will be approving a system of qualified assessors as part of this rulemaking. It is envisioned that this system will allow for the demonstration of assessments via an approved course or separate from an approved course. Any assessment, associated with a course or not, and used to satisfy STCW requirements, must be submitted to the NMC for approval prior to initiation. The Coast Guard agrees that demonstration of the knots is a skill that can be obtained outside an approved course; therefore, a demonstration of competence may be achieved via assessment only.

The same commenter states that it would be extremely helpful to list in §§ 12.613(b)(3), 12.615(b)(3), and 12.617(b)(2) what assessments must be conducted ashore.

The Coast Guard has amended text in §§ 12.613, 12.615, and 12.617 to specify the assessments that must be conducted ashore for proficiency in survival craft, basic safety training, and advanced firefighting.

11. Sea Service

One commenter recommends that mariners serving on the inside waters of southeast Alaska should be granted day-for-day service credit.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has revised § 10.232 to accept service where STCW is applicable on a day-for-day credit.

Two commenters believe that there will be an excess of mariners sailing internationally as RFPNW if they are not restricted to lookout duties until they become able seamen-special in accordance with the CFR. While the RFPNW earns sea time and satisfies the requirements of A/II-5 of the Code, the path to A/B-special remains balanced if the restriction remains in place, the commenters state. Under the 1995 amended STCW Convention, an 11-month program was created from entry to A/B-special to meet the RFPNW/A/B-special training and assessment requirements. Most of the competencies of A/II-5 are accomplished in this program. This existing program can be modified to allow competencies for able seafarer-deck to be added if the NMC will continue to grant sea service credit. Therefore, the commenters recommend that the Coast Guard grant sea service credit and actual sea service time to mariners who are enrolled in an approved program and who have completed all other requirements of able seafarer-deck and are otherwise qualified for the endorsement.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention allow for the reduction of sea service requirements as part of an approved training program. The applicant must also meet the requirements for RFPNW and the standards of competence for able seafarer deck in Section A-II/5 of the STCW Code. Section 12.603 is consistent with the STCW requirements for able seafarer deck. Furthermore, an able seaman special would still need to meet an additional sea service requirement of 6 months.

One commenter asks if, with regard to § 11.305, the holder of a chief mate credential working as the mate on a fishing vessel of more than 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT would receive sea service credit as a chief mate, even though manning does not require he or she to hold this license and the vessel is not subject to STCW.

The Coast Guard replies that where the mariner holds a chief mate credential, and fills the position as mate on the fishing vessel, and the position meets the definition of chief mate found in § 10.107, that service will be credited as chief mate.

Two commenters recommend that the Coast Guard reduce the qualifying time for near-coastal mate on vessels of less than 200 GRT to a more attainable level, perhaps more in line with the domestic requirement of 1 year of sea time.

The Coast Guard agrees. Section 11.321 of the SNPRM and this final rule allows seafarers holding a national endorsement as mate near-coastal of less than 200 GRT with 6 months of sea service to qualify for an STCW endorsement as OICNW of less than 200 GRT/500 GT. This provision is consistent with Regulation II/3, paragraph 4 of the STCW Convention.

One commenter believes that sea service credit should be based on horsepower and tonnage for engineer and unlicensed engine room ratings and that the same should apply to deck license and ratings unless the scope of service is excessively limited. The commenter believes the latter should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Also, the commenter suggests that the NMC train or supply their evaluators with specific guidelines to preclude the apparent inconsistencies issuing forth from that office.

The Coast Guard partially agrees with the commenter's first statement, realizing that there are differences in acceptable sea time structure between the deck and engine departments simply because of inherent differences in what deck officers and engineers are responsible for. Skills for masters and mates are relative to conditions, such as power versus sail propulsion and the routes upon which they sail. Engineers must have training and skills related to the size and type of propulsion units they operate, such as diesel engines, steam boiler and turbines, or gas turbines.

Currently, sea time for a credential for licensed engineers (officer endorsements) is based on both horsepower and tonnage, depending on the credential sought. Service is further restricted to inland vessels only for mariners who hold DDE 1,000 HP credentials. However, we removed the “near-coastal” route restriction on chief engineer (limited) endorsements.

Engine unlicensed (rating endorsements) sea time is accepted from any vessel on which such ratings are required. Likewise, sea time for the various categories of able seamen is established in law (46 U.S.C 7306). There has been no proposal to change this practice.

With regard to the commenter's second suggestion, deck endorsements that are excessively limited are currently evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

The NMC receives and measures feedback from its customers, and updates evaluator training. Specific guidance and checklists tailored to the endorsement under review are important parts of all evaluators' tools.

12. Endorsements

Three commenters ask, with regard to the separation of STCW and domestic endorsements, whether a mariner could have a domestic endorsement that is a level up or down from his/her STCW endorsement. If so, and if there is a mismatch, which endorsement is controlling?

The Coast Guard has amended §§ 11.201(a), 12.201(a), and 13.601(a) to ensure alignment between a mariner's national and STCW endorsements. The duties and responsibilities must match. In order to be considered for an STCW endorsement, the applicant must have or be receiving the equivalent national endorsement. Also, the applicant cannot request nor be considered for a lesser or greater STCW endorsement than the equivalent national endorsement that they hold or will be receiving on their MMC.

Two commenters state that, with regard to § 11.422(a), the removal of the 150-ton category will be very helpful to mariners who have been stranded at the 150 GRT limitation.

The Coast Guard agrees and has retained the removal of the 150 ton endorsement.

Two other commenters recommend that the Coast Guard reduce the tonnage requirement for STCW endorsements over 200 GRT/500 GT and less than 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT to 50 GRT.

The Coast Guard disagrees. It would be inappropriate to reduce the tonnage to 50 GRT, because of the differences in equipment requirements on vessels of such limited tonnage. The Coast Guard, however, is revising the lower tonnage to 100 GRT as was proposed in § 11.402 of the SNPRM.

The same commenters recommend that the Coast Guard include OICNW on vessels of less than 200 GRT/500 GT (§ 11.309) in “may qualify for” master domestic 500 GRT oceans (§ 11.418(c)).

The Coast Guard agrees to the crossover from master of ocean or near-coastal self-propelled vessel less than 500 GRT to OICNW of vessels 200 GRT/500 GT or more (§ 11.309), and has amended § 11.418 accordingly.

Four commenters recommend that all masters and mates on existing subchapter T/K U.S. flag vessels built prior to July 18, 1982, with dual tonnages be allowed to have their Coast Guard licenses/MMC's endorsed by the Coast Guard to show the vessel's International Tonnage Certificate (ITC) tonnage.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The determination of a vessel's ITC tonnage is between the OCMI and the vessel owner for each vessel. Except as noted for 200 GRT/500 GT and 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT, our credentialing scheme is based on GRT. In addition, this suggestion would inappropriately allow a mariner to raise the tonnage authority of their endorsements without serving on progressively larger vessels. Also, where the ITC tonnage is higher, mariners must meet the higher credentialing requirement to receive the appropriate STCW endorsement.

One commenter notes that § 12.607(c) states:

“Seafarers holding a rating endorsement as QMED before January 1, 2017 will be eligible for this endorsement upon showing evidence of holding an endorsement as an RFPEW.” The commenter requests that the Coast Guard amend this section so there is no confusion as to which QMED endorsements apply to this section.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended § 12.607 to distinguish between QMED endorsements.

One commenter does not believe Table 12.607(e) is easy to read and understand. The commenter says the table should be rewritten and reformatted to provide a complete understanding of the requirements to obtain the endorsement of able seafarer-engine.

The Coast Guard agrees and has rewritten and reformatted Table 1 to 12.607(e) to include all domestic QMED endorsements that will be eligible for the STCW endorsement as rating as able seafarer-engine in table 1 to 12.607(e). This table provides an alternate path with a reduced sea service requirement to the able seafarer-engine endorsement that will facilitate the transition from domestic to STCW endorsements. Additionally, the Coast Guard modified all similar tables to avoid confusion.

One commenter recommends that Table 12.609(d) should be rewritten and reformatted to provide a complete understanding of the requirements to obtain the endorsement of electro-technical rating.

The Coast Guard agrees and has corrected the errors in Table 1 to 12.611(c), which was mislabeled as Table 12.609(d).

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard add the words, “* * * retain the STCW endorsements and authority in force prior to 7/1/13” at the end of § 11.301(i)(2) to make the intent clear.

The Coast Guard disagrees that greater clarity is needed. This section, as proposed, already provided for grandfathering, and the commenter's suggestion addresses manning requirements that are addressed in part 15. In addition, in the event that the operating authority of a mariner's STCW endorsement changes, this final rule provides a means for them to qualify for the appropriate endorsements.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard reconsider its acceptance of foreign service and experience in § 11.201(c)(4). In the commenter's view, any blanket acceptance of foreign service would be deemed irresponsible in the assurance of marine safety and protecting the marine environment.

The Coast Guard agrees in part, but asserts that no change is needed in proposed § 11.201(c)(4). That section does not provide for a blanket acceptance of foreign service. Rather, it provides for the Coast Guard to determine that the foreign service is fair, reasonable and equivalent to the service acquired on a U.S. vessel. In addition, these mariners will also be required to meet any training and assessment requirements.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard establish a single endorsement for Proficiency in Survival Craft as contained in the STCW Convention. The actual proficiencies for this endorsement should cover all commonly used survival craft. The commenter believes the proposed segregation is unnecessarily burdensome and the multiple layers of certification for such a simple group of proficiencies are pointless.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The endorsement requirements were drafted to ensure that mariners do not have to meet the training requirements for lifeboats if they sail onboard vessels that do not carry lifeboats.

13. Security

Nine commenters object to § 15.1113(b) and (c). The current requirements allow companies to tailor their training to their particular operation and eliminate areas that don't apply. In the commenters' view, the proposed rule would require companies to send all personnel to a school to learn subjects not pertaining to their company's operation, which would be an unacceptable burden.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention require that persons serving onboard STCW-compliant vessels meet a standard of competence specified in the Convention. At this time, the Coast Guard intends to meet the STCW 2010 amendments on security training through the existing regulations in 33 CFR subchapter H, subpart B, which requires that such persons meet the knowledge requirements via training or equivalent job experience. For that reason, paragraphs (b) and (c) of § 15.1113 in this final rule remain unchanged from the SNPRM. If any changes to 33 CFR 104.220 and 104.225 are needed, the Coast Guard will consider including them in a separate, future rulemaking.

Fifteen commenters note that the proposed rule contains requirements regarding training for vessel personnel with security duties and also imposes a responsibility for all other vessel personnel to demonstrate training in security. In the commenter's view, these provisions appear to apply only to mariners serving on vessels subject to the STCW Convention.

The 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention (Section A-VI/6) require all persons employed or engaged on a seagoing vessel to have received security familiarization. The term “all persons” includes seafarers and other personnel, including contractors, whether part-time, full-time, temporary, or permanent. At this time, the Coast Guard intends to meet the STCW 2010 amendments regarding this subject through the regulations in 33 CFR 104.225, which requires that all contractors, whether part-time, full-time, temporary, or permanent, must have knowledge on a number of topics, through training or equivalent job experience. The Coast Guard has also amended § 15.1113 to ensure that all contractors have knowledge of the requirements, through training or equivalent job experience, of 33 CFR 104.225.

Eight commenters object to any suggestion in § 15.1113 to extend STCW security training provisions to crew members of vessels in domestic service not subject to STCW.

The Coast Guard agrees. Under § 15.1101, subpart K of part 15 applies only to seagoing vessels subject to the STCW Convention, except vessels in § 15.1101(a)(1) and (a)(2). Accordingly, § 15.1113 applies only to vessels subject to STCW as provided in § 15.1101. The Coast Guard is not applying these requirements to crewmembers on vessels in domestic service that are not subject to STCW. However, 33 CFR 104.220 and 104.225 contain the security personnel requirements for vessels in domestic service.

Seven commenters believe that the requirements of § 15.1113(b) are too stringent and exceed the requirements of the STCW 2010 amendments. In the commenters' view, it fails to take into account the transitional provisions provided in STCW Code A-VI/6(5) and (9).

The Coast Guard agrees. To ensure mariners can meet the implementation date requirements, the Coast Guard has amended the proposed requirements in §§ 12.625 and 12.627. The revised sections will include the STCW transitional provisions for security awareness and for seafarers with designated security duties that would allow existing mariners that took a course and/or can document service onboard vessels to obtain an endorsement. In accordance with Section A-VI/6 of the STCW Convention, this transitional provision will only be available until March 24, 2014.

The same commenter would like confirmation that individuals who complete a Coast Guard-approved VSO course, or those mariners whose MMC is endorsed as VSO, will meet the training and/or endorsement requirements as vessel personnel with designated security duties.

The Coast Guard agrees. The security training requirements in the STCW were developed as a progression where “security awareness” is the lowest level of training and “vessel security officer” is the highest level of training. Therefore, the VSO training meets the requirements for vessel personnel with security duties, and the vessel personnel with security duties meets the requirements for security awareness. The Coast Guard has added § 11.337 to state the requirements for VSO, amended § 12.625 to clarify requirements for vessel personnel with designated security duties, and amended §§ 15.1113(b) and (d) to establish the hierarchal relationship between the three endorsements. Under this system, for example, mariners who completed VSO training would be eligible for any position with a security training requirement at the VSO level or lower.

One commenter asks how the additional requirements in STCW regarding competencies related to anti-piracy and anti-armed attack will be addressed for existing VSOs and grandfathered vessel personnel with specific security duties and Maritime Security Awareness-certified seafarers. Will their current certifications be grandfathered, will there be “bridging” courses covering these additional requirements, or will they have to take a new approved course by a certain date?

At this time, the Coast Guard intends to meet the STCW 2010 amendments on this subject through the regulations in 33 CFR 104.220 and 104.225. The Coast Guard will consider changes to 33 CFR 104.220 and 104.225 as part of a separate rulemaking. Under this final rule, all existing VSOs, vessel personnel with security duties and other personnel will be grandfathered and will not be required to take refresher training on piracy. [7]

One commenter notes § 15.1113(b) states that “all personnel with security duties” must hold a valid endorsement as vessel personnel with designated security duties. Unless this section is revised, the commenter says, it could be construed so broadly as to include every person in the crew (except for the VSO), which raises the concern—particularly for cargo vessels with crews of limited size—of placing an unnecessary and unwieldy certification or formal training burden on mariners and vessel operators. The commenter recommends that this section should use the term “personnel with designated security duties” throughout.

The Coast Guard agrees. The Coast Guard is revising the definition of “Vessel personnel with designated security duties” to harmonize it with the guidance in Section B-VI/6 of the STCW Code and to ensure consistency with the requirements in 33 CFR 104.220 and 104.225. The expression “with designated security duties” denotes those having specific security duties and responsibilities in accordance with the vessel security plan. The Coast Guard amended the requirements in §§ 12.625 and 15.1113 to ensure that the term “vessel personnel with designated security duties” is used throughout.

The same commenter recommends minor revisions to §§ 12.625 and 12.627, where STCW endorsements for “vessel personnel with designated security duties” and “security awareness” are obtained by providing “satisfactory documentary evidence” of meeting the requirements in 33 CFR 104.220. Since “satisfactory documentary evidence” is not defined, the commenter recommends adding language to read “Present satisfactory documentary evidence, such as a certificate or letter signed by a company official, or a certificate of completion from an approved training course, of meeting the requirements in 33 CFR 104.220.”

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended the text accordingly. At this time, the Coast Guard intends to meet the STCW 2010 amendments regarding security training via the regulations in 33 CFR 104.220 and 104.225, which require personnel to have knowledge on a number of topics. Documentary evidence may include a certificate or letter signed by a company official or a certificate of course completion from a Coast Guard accepted course.

One commenter states that, with regard to §§ 12.625(a) and 12.627(a), the Coast Guard does not describe or identify the process for obtaining security endorsements or certificates for existing mariners that have already received security awareness, security system and security duties-related training. The “grandfathering” of existing mariners who received the appropriate training and are working under a MTSA-required security system prior to July 1, 2012, is not addressed. Neither does the proposal indicate if the organization may issue course completion certificates for existing mariners or define a process for documentation of past training and service under a security system. Previous training needs to be accepted as meeting the requirements for issuance of certification prior to July 1, 2012.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended the proposed requirements in §§ 12.625 and 12.627. These sections will include the STCW transitional provisions for security awareness and for seafarers with designated security duties that would allow existing mariners who took a course and/or can document service onboard vessels to obtain an endorsement. In accordance with Section A-VI/6 of the STCW Convention, this transitional provision will only be available until March 24, 2014.

One commenter states that these requirements should include the acceptance of approved, non-proctored, eLearning Computer Based Training (CBT) to meet the requirements of § 15.1113.

The Coast Guard agrees. The requirements in 33 CFR 104.220 and 104.225 allow for the use of in-house training, which includes eLearning and distance learning. The Coast Guard will consider a separate, future rulemaking if changes to those sections are needed.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard amend § 12.625 to read as follows:

(a) An applicant for an STCW endorsement as vessel personnel with designated security duties must:

(1) Present satisfactory documentary evidence of meeting the requirements in 33 CFR 104.220; and

(2) Meet the physical examination requirements in 46 CFR, part 10, subpart C.

The same commenter recommends that the Coast Guard amend § 12.627 to read as follows:

(a) An applicant for an endorsement for security awareness must:

(1) Present satisfactory documentary evidence of meeting the requirements in 33 CFR 104.225; and

(2) Meet the physical examination requirements in 46 CFR, part 10, subpart C.

The Coast Guard partially agrees. The two requirements proposed by the commenter are included in this final rule in §§ 12.625 and 12.627. However, an additional requirement to meet the safety and suitability requirements and the National Driver Registry review requirements in § 10.209(e) is included in this final rule in accordance with 46 U.S.C. 7101.

One commenter notes that, with regard to § 15.1113, applicants will, in the near term, have to rely on the STCW Code transitional provisions, which permit use of experience, as opposed to approved training, to qualify for these endorsements until January 1, 2014. This will not be an option for new mariners and others without relevant experience. Not only are adequate training resources unlikely to be available, but the commenter states it is also not clear that there will be sufficient time for compliance by those with adequate experience. Presumably mariners cannot apply for, and the Coast Guard cannot issue, endorsements until they are authorized by regulation.

The STCW Convention requires that mariners who commenced service after January 1, 2012, meet the training requirements for vessel personnel with designated security duties and security awareness, as appropriate. In addition, the STCW Convention also provides transitional provisions for mariners who started service prior to January 1, 2012. Recognizing that the implementation date was fast approaching, and that there may be practical difficulties for all seafarers with security related requirements to obtain necessary certifications and/or the necessary endorsements required in accordance with Regulation VI/6 of the 2010 amendments to the STCW Code and Convention, the IMO issued Circular STCW.7/Circ.17 providing advice for port state control officers on transitional arrangements leading up to full implementation of the 2010 amendments to the STCW Code and Convention on January 1, 2017. The circular recommends that administrations should inform their port state control authorities that, until March 24, 2014, even if a seafarer's documentation with regard to the security-related training in regulation VI/6 is not in accordance with the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention and Code, it would be sufficient to accept compliance with section 13 of the ISPS Code. Taking the information in the circular into account, the Coast Guard has amended § 15.1113 to implement the requirements for “vessel personnel with designated security duties” and for “security awareness.” The requirements in 33 CFR 104.220 and 104.225 meet the requirements of Section 13 of the ISPS Code.

14. Course approvals

One commenter requests existing guidance on instructor qualification be published immediately and prior to the intended NVIC.

The Coast Guard is working to provide guidance on this subject as soon as practicable with a NVIC within 60 days of publication of this rule or as soon as possible.

Two commenters offered several recommendations for improvement of the course/program approval process through clarification, elimination, or addition of certain requirements. More specifically, the commenters suggested that the Coast Guard provide guidance on the content of course approval application components, including the cover letter, teaching syllabus, goal statement, assessment tools, and course completion certificates.

The Coast Guard agrees in part with these recommendations and some have been incorporated into this final rule while some will be published in a NVIC. For clarification, the cover letter should contain a general description to clearly describe the request. The goal statement should explain the overall intent of the course or program while the performance objectives should support the goal statement with individual components of the entire course. Assessment instruments include all methods used to measure the abilities of the student to successfully complete the course/program. For both initial and renewed approvals, instructors must have performed the instruction within the previous 5 years or provide evidence of current training in instructional techniques (i.e. Train the Trainer).

One commenter believes the copy of the course completion certificate in the course approval submission is redundant.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The certificates are required to ensure they will contain the necessary information used by professional qualification evaluators at NMC to verify course completion. The Coast Guard hopes to eliminate the need for course completion certificates with a future electronic solution. Until then, the certificates are a required component of the course approval submission package.

One commenter notes that, in § 10.403(a)(2), the phrase “visual aids for realism” is vague and unnecessary. He recommends that the item read, “Have the equipment necessary, including simulators where appropriate. . . .”

The Coast Guard agrees and has changed “visual aids for realism” to “the necessary equipment. . . .” Necessary equipment encompasses more than just visual aids.

The same commenter notes that § 11.301(a)(1)(xiii) probably should read “ . . . successful completion of an approved course” because the courses are approved. An approved school could run a non-approved course.

The Coast Guard agrees. This change has been made to ensure consistency with other sections.

One commenter contends that the proposed requirements to obtain course approval in § 10.402 are excessive and exceed the information required in IMO model courses. It is recommended that the Coast Guard minimize the administrative burden and cost on all training providers by requiring only the information currently required for IMO model courses.

The Coast Guard partially agrees. All of the course approval application requirements in § 10.402 are critical components of a curriculum package and are required for review by the regulatory agency granting approval. The IMO model courses are not meant to be the documentation model for approval. They are meant to help organize and present the training course. To ensure consistency in the use of the terminology, the Coast Guard has amended § 10.402 to use the IMO model course terminology.

The same commenter states that § 10.402 for course approval and § 10.403 for general standards for courses appears to have been written with non-academy training institutions in mind, who offer only individual stand-alone courses. The commenter therefore recommends that the Coast Guard consider separating the requirement for approved courses and approved programs by adding a separate section in the regulations that apply only to maritime academies, or other similar institutions that operate under multi-year approved education and training programs.

The Coast Guard agrees and new section § 10.407 has been created to apply solely to training programs. The Coast Guard recognizes that the 4-year academy training programs are subject to standards by state and regional/national accrediting bodies and therefore will accept information from these accrediting bodies to meet one or more of the course approval requirements. Standardization of the requirements for training programs will simplify the regulations and reduce administrative costs, which can be passed on to mariners as a reduction of the cost of training.

The same commenter notes that in the Coast Guard's response to comments on the NPRM, which were published in the SNPRM, concerning the need for greater specificity regarding the qualification requirements for instructors, the Coast Guard states that this beneficial information would be better provided by a NVIC or similar guidance document. The commenter urges the Coast Guard to engage in a dialogue with the public academies before initiating any such policy.

The Coast Guard agrees. Additional details on the qualification for instructors in § 10.402 will be provided by a NVIC or similar guidance document which we plan on issuing after the publication of the final rule. The Coast Guard will gather industry input and comment through MERPAC and/or through notice and comment.

Three commenters object to § 10.403(a)(7), which states that each school with an approved course must not change its approved curricula without approval from the NMC as specified in § 10.402(e) of this subpart. Supplemental material to enhance relevant learning points is regularly used to enhance Coast Guard-approved courses and approved curriculum. This allows students to stay current with industry and regulatory changes between course approval submissions. The commenter recommends that this section be changed to read “not significantly change its approved curriculum without approval from the NMC”.

Another commenter recommends that the Coast Guard define which significant changes to courses or training programs require approval, including changes in curriculum, classrooms, and new simulators.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended § 10.403(a)(7) to ensure that only significant changes are submitted for review and approval. We plan to issue additional details on changes to curricula by a NVIC or similar guidance document after the publication of the final rule. The Coast Guard will gather industry input and comment through MERPAC or through notice in the Federal Register.

One commenter states that all course providers know and understand that the Coast Guard currently uses internal guidance on instructor qualifications for approval in each course area. This guidance would be beneficial to maritime training providers and would assist them in saving time, effort, and resources. The commenter believes that the Coast Guard should publish the current internal guidance until a NVIC can be published.

The Coast Guard agrees that all guidance on instructor qualification should be made available to the public. The Coast Guard will make available any of the current instructor qualification requirements on the NMC's Web site. Additional details on the qualification for instructors will be provided by a NVIC or similar guidance document, which we plan on issuing after the publication of the final rule. The Coast Guard will gather industry input and comment through MERPAC and/or through notice in the Federal Register.

Two commenters recommend that, in § 10.402(b)(5)(iii) the word “hold” should be changed to “has held” in the requirement that course instructors “hold a license, endorsement, or other professional credentials . . . .” There are mariners who have come ashore and, for whatever reason, did not renew their licenses.

Another commenter objects to the requirement in § 10.402(b)(5) that course instructors “hold a license, endorsement, or other professional credential that provides proof of having attained a level of qualification equal or superior to the relevant level of knowledge, skills, and abilities described in the performance objective.” Many maritime security instructors come from military or law enforcement backgrounds and have substantial relevant experience, but no piece of paper that proves their qualifications.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has deleted the requirement that the instructor hold a license, endorsement, or other professional credential in proposed § 10.402(b)(5) and broadened the requirement for instructors now found in § 10.402(b)(2)(iii)(C). The instructor must have the level of experience and qualification equal or superior to the relevant level of knowledge, skills, and abilities described in the performance objective.

One commenter notes that training onboard vessels and on-the-job training are critical to a mariner's growth and experience. However, the commenter states that ships' facilities and areas used as “training rooms” may not meet the Coast Guard requirements for shore-side facilities. This seems in conflict with the Coast Guard's initial reasoning for establishing such classroom criteria. Additionally, the working environment onboard a continually operating, revenue generating ship may be in conflict with a focused, uninterrupted learning environment for sufficiently rested mariners. Will vessels providing training to meet the onboard assessments (e.g., Basic Safety Training's first aid element) be required to meet the same course requirements, training facility requirements, and serve the Coast Guard the same 21-day advanced notice of training? If not, then the commenter says there is a major discrepancy between shore side and onboard training.

All Coast Guard-approved training will have to meet the requirements in the regulation. The Coast Guard will issue a NVIC with additional information on any departure or any interpretation of these regulations regarding on-the-job training. The option for onboard training and assessments is permitted provided the vessel has the equipment and capabilities necessary for successful execution.

Two commenters object to the requirements in § 10.402(b)(1)(ii) and (b)(6), which require training providers seeking course approval to submit detailed site information. Holding a course at an alternative location already requires approval from the NMC.

This is an integral part of the oversight process and is necessary to prevent the use of spaces unsuitable for classroom purposes. Further, detailed site information is required as part of an application for course approval, which is not redundant with any subsequent request for approval of an alternative location. However, the Coast Guard appreciates the concern and will make efforts to expedite the process. We plan to issue additional details on changes to curricula by a NVIC or similar guidance document after the publication of the Final Rule. The Coast Guard will gather industry input and comment through MERPAC and/or through notice in the Federal Register.

15. Quality Standards System (QSS)

One commenter notes that the Coast Guard proposes to add QSS requirements for Coast Guard-approved courses. The commenter states that this proposal is incomplete in that it does not include the standard of performance metrics that are to be applied. Furthermore, it does not provide exemptions for companies that maintain and audit their training programs to ISM or ISO codes. While the proposal does appear to provide for the application of ISM or ISO codes, the commenter says it seems to do so outside of a company's existing ISM safety management system and framework.

The same commenter notes that the Coast Guard proposes to accept documentation from a national academic accreditation body or from a national or international quality standard system as meeting one or more of the QSS requirements. The commenter states that this proposal is superfluous and, if implemented, its application should be limited to maritime training institutions and schools.

Section 10.410(e) as currently written is broad and does not apply only to training institutions and schools. That paragraph of the SNPRM provided that Coast Guard will accept documentation from a training institution certified under ISO as evidence of satisfying one or more of the requirements in § 10.410(c). However, the Coast Guard recognizes that other management systems should be included as a means to comply with the QSS requirement. Therefore, the Coast Guard has added a new paragraph (g) to include ISM, which is an industry-wide system, as an alternate means of compliance for the QSS provision. This will allow schools that currently implement ISM to comply with the new QSS requirements without needing to modify their programs. Regarding the issue of performance metrics, the STCW Convention already specifies the metrics. It is expected that the QSS ensure compliance with the STCW requirements as implemented by the regulations.

One commenter asks for justification and confirmation regarding the QSS requirements contained in § 10.410 as they apply to the state maritime academies. Based on the rigorous standards for accreditation by regional and national organizations, and the ongoing self-assessment review of their licensing programs and individual courses at each of the academies, as well as Coast Guard and U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD) oversight of their training programs through the Joint Coast Guard/MARAD/Academy Review Committee Charter utilized since the implementation of the 1995 STCW amendments, the commenter believes the academies already meet the spirit and intent for a QSS as allowed by STCW Sections B-l/8-5 and 7 where “education quality standards” and “government agencies” are permitted to satisfy the QSS requirements.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The Coast Guard does not have flexibility in whether or not the QSS or the independent evaluation is implemented, since this is a Convention requirement. All courses and programs in support of an STCW certificate must meet the STCW requirements. Section 10.410(e) was included to give the academies credit for their accreditation program. The Coast Guard recognizes that there is some overlap between the oversight provided by the different accreditation bodies and the Coast Guard responsibility for oversight to meet the STCW requirements. While we recognize the Academies' courses are already subject to a review and oversight process, it does not assess compliance with STCW, nor does this process ensure a quality system oversight of those STCW items. It is envisioned that the academies can use documentation from the academy accreditation process to meet the requirements for a QSS. Consequently, the manual may take the form of a reference document for those areas that are part of the Academies' accreditation program, and detailed information will be required to fill gaps between the QSS requirements and the Academies' accreditation information.

One commenter recommends that, with regard to § 11.410, the Coast Guard consider a transitional provision, which would approve stand-alone courses containing any new training or assessments mandated by the 2010 STCW amendments, and would be required for mariners who begin their service or training on or after July 1, 2013. This provision would allow training providers until January 1, 2017, to implement a QSS for all stand-alone Continuing Education courses offered after that date.

The Coast Guard agrees that a transitional provision is necessary to ensure course providers are afforded time for implementation. The Coast Guard has amended § 10.410(f) to ensure that all courses, programs and training creditable towards STCW meet the requirements of a QSS by January 1, 2017. Furthermore, during this transitional period, the Coast Guard will accept course completion certificates submitted with mariner applications in order to ensure mariners are not impacted while the course providers are in the process of coming into compliance with the QSS requirements.

One commenter notes that the Coast Guard proposes to add QSS requirements for training schools offering Coast Guard-approved STCW courses. According to the commenter, bona fide training schools will have few issues with this if done in a reasonable and cost-effective manner. However, in the commenter's view, there has been a lack of any substantive or realistic oversight by the Coast Guard of training schools. If the Coast Guard does not engage itself in meaningful and practical training school oversight, it's not clear how a QSS will solve this issue.

The Coast Guard agrees with the need for robust oversight. The QSS requirements are meant to work with the new oversight provisions in §§ 10.409 and 10.410. The Coast Guard continues to work to improve its oversight responsibilities over the training schools.

One commenter notes that, with regard to § 10.410, course providers have not actually “arranged” for any Coast Guard audits. The commenter expects that the Coast Guard will continue to notify training providers of the dates of intended administrative visits.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended the text in § 10.410 to clarify this point.

One commenter believes, with regard to § 10.410, that the Coast Guard must retain oversight and provide a no-cost option for a QSS.

The Coast Guard agrees. The Coast Guard is not mandating the third-party auditor. The Coast Guard is providing two alternatives for the QSS in § 10.410(b): (1) Third party quality system oversight through a Coast Guard-accepted QSS organization; or (2) where the organization develops their own QSS and the Coast Guard does the oversight.

One commenter asks why, in § 10.409(f), in the information to be submitted by the QSS Organization related to approved courses, a one-paragraph description of course content is required. Wouldn't it be better to have a standard course code, developed by Coast Guard/NMC, to which the QSS Organization refers in the submission document?

The Coast Guard disagrees. We allow training providers discretion to tailor their courses or programs to meet their unique needs, and the Coast Guard will approve such courses and programs for any requirements the training may satisfy. Accordingly, we consider it infeasible to require the use of standard, “one size fits all” course codes because such a step would significantly reduce flexibility for training providers.

One commenter asks whether the reference to certification of international quality management systems standards acceptable for training providers in § 10.410 includes maritime education and training standards such as ones being used internationally by the commenter's QSS organization, which are based on ISO 9001, and are designed especially for maritime training providers and courses.

Yes. The Coast Guard has provided for the use of other nationally and internationally-accepted quality management systems standards (e.g., ISO 9001) in § 10.410(e).

One commenter asks if the applicability of the requirement for approval of training courses and programs in § 10.401 include courses and programs put on by ship owners and operators for their own seafarers or others. If so, must these ship owners/operators have their own QSS? And if so, will the QSS system need approval?

The requirements in § 10.401 do not differentiate between courses provided at a training institution or onboard a vessel. Therefore, all courses which may be accepted instead of service experience or examination required by the Coast Guard must meet the requirements in § 10.401. Courses offered by vessel owners/operators will also need to meet the QSS requirements. The Coast Guard recognizes that vessels subject to STCW are also subject to the ISM and that there is some overlap between the QSS requirements in § 10.410 and the ISM requirements. To address this overlap the Coast Guard has included a new subparagraph § 10.410(g). It is envisioned that the vessel owners and operators will use ISM documentation to meet the requirements for a QSS.

One commenter is concerned that the proposed requirement to participate with a QSS is not clear. It is unclear whether or not Coast Guard approval of a training course is an alternative to using a QSS. Nonetheless, it is important that a course provider, having Coast Guard approval for one or two courses, be allowed to continue to submit these courses directly to the Coast Guard for approval. For small companies that have one or two courses, a relationship with a QSS is impractical, burdensome and unnecessarily expensive.

Section 10.410(a) requires that all providers of Coast-Guard approved courses, programs, training and Coast Guard-accepted training towards an STCW endorsement maintain a QSS. The Coast Guard is providing two alternatives for the QSS in § 10.410(b): (1) Third-party quality system oversight through a Coast Guard-accepted QSS organization; or (2) where the organization develops their own QSS and the Coast Guard does the oversight. Furthermore, the Coast Guard is accepting documentation from equivalent standards as meeting one or more of the QSS requirements: (1) A national academic accreditation body; (2) a national or international quality management system standard (e.g., ISO 9001); and/or (3) ISM.

Three commenters ask if the QSS requirements apply only to STCW courses. If it applies to all courses, this is a huge expansion, the commenters said, and doesn't add any benefit to non-STCW courses compared to the pain imposed on small maritime educators.

The QSS requirements in § 10.410 only apply to Coast-Guard approved courses, programs, training and Coast Guard-accepted training leading towards an STCW endorsement.

One commenter agrees with the QSS proposal as written. However, the commenter says there needs to be further explanation of the “National Academic accreditation body” the Coast Guard is proposing. Who, what, and where is the organization based, what are their credentials, and how do they apply to the maritime industry?

The Coast Guard agrees in part. Because of the large volume of academic accreditation bodies in the U.S., the Coast Guard is not including them in the rulemaking. The Coast Guard will publish guidance on those accreditation bodies accepted by the Coast Guard. The accreditation bodies include: (a) The New England Association of Schools and Colleges; (b) Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges; (c) Southern Association of Schools and Colleges; (d) North Central Association of Schools and Colleges; (e) Western Association of Schools and Colleges; and (f) American Council on Education.

One commenter asks, with regard to § 10.409, if there will be user fees associated with conducting audits, reviewing programs, and issuing letters of acceptance to QSS.

The Coast Guard may consider establishing such fees as part of a separate, future rulemaking.

16. Applicability

Four commenters state that a lot of the regulations start out with the phrase “all personnel.” However, STCW mainly applies only to self-propelled vessels. The commenters ask the Coast Guard to differentiate the application of the regulations.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. The Coast Guard has made some additional changes to the text to ensure clarity. Section 15.1101 specifies that the regulations in subpart K apply only to vessels subject to the STCW Convention. The requirements apply to self-propelled vessels that operate beyond the boundary line specified in 46 CFR part 7, except for those vessels exempted from the application under § 15.1101(a)(1), and small vessels engaged exclusively on domestic voyages that are not subject to any obligations under the STCW Convention under § 15.1101(a)(2).

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard should interpret the STCW Convention to regard pilot vessels as not being considered seagoing ships because they operate “in waters within, or closely adjacent to, sheltered waters or areas where port regulations apply” in accordance with Article II of the STCW Convention.

The Coast Guard agrees and has revised §§ 15.105(f) and 15.1101(a) to exclude pilot vessels engaged on pilotage duties from the application of STCW.

One commenter asks how the A/B- Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU) endorsement, which is recognized in the Marine Safety Manual, will be affected by the proposed rulemaking.

The rating of A/B-MODU is not affected by this rulemaking. Unlike the other A/B ratings established pursuant to 46 U.S.C. 7306-7311a, A/B-MODU is not a rating authorized by statute or regulation. The A/B-MODU endorsements for ratings were issued to address a perceived deficit of seaman qualified for the unique requirements of serving onboard a MODU. However, it is likely that the Coast Guard will work to phase out this endorsement, providing transitional procedures that will allow those currently holding this rating to continue to serve aboard MODUs.

Two commenters state that proposed § 12.409(a) requires every person serving onboard vessels fitted with liferafts, but not fitted with lifeboats, to hold an endorsement as lifeboatman-limited. The commenter recommends that the Coast Guard amend this section to read that “those serving under the authority of this rating endorsement” must hold the endorsement.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended § 12.409(a) to clarify that persons fulfilling the manning requirements for lifeboatman must hold a lifeboatman-limited endorsement.

One commenter states that proposed § 15.520(e) would exempt a dynamically-positioned drillship from its requirements. As written this section requires that a drillship be under the command of an MMC officer with an endorsement as master when underway, and an endorsement as offshore installation manager (OIM) when on location. Appendix (i) to the Coast Guard-BOEMRE Deepwater Horizon Joint Investigation Final Report concluded that a dynamically-positioned drillship is never on location. Therefore, the commenter concludes that a dynamically-positioned drillship master would not require an OIM endorsement since it is never on location.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The text in § 15.520(e) has been amended to clarify that drillships operating with a dynamic positioning system (DP) must be under the command of a master with an OIM endorsement.

One commenter notes that the proposed rule changes apply to mariners who operate internationally, seaward of the boundary line. The Coast Guard states in the SNPRM that it does not intend to “apply strict international standards upon our domestic mariners. . . .” The commenter does not agree that operations on the Great Lakes and in the Inside Passage (extending between Seattle, Washington; British Columbia, Canada; and southeast Alaska) should be exempt from the STCW Code. Those areas are as navigationally complex and operationally challenging as international oceangoing voyages and thus deserve the high safety standards that STCW provides, standards which, the commenter believes, are not met by existing Coast Guard domestic regulations for inland waters.

The Coast Guard partially agrees. The STCW Convention applies to mariners serving on seagoing vessels, except pleasure craft, fishing vessels, and vessels entitled to sovereign immunity such as warships. Article II of the STCW Convention defines a seagoing ship as a ship other than one that “navigates exclusively in inland waters or in waters within, or closely adjacent to, sheltered waters or areas where port regulations apply.” The STCW Convention does not apply to vessels operating on the Great Lakes. The provisions in this final rule that would implement amendments to the STCW Convention only apply to commercial vessels operating seaward of the boundary line, as specified in 46 CFR part 7. Vessels on the Inside Passage between Puget Sound and Cape Spencer, Alaska, are not exempted from the application of the STCW Convention. Discretionary application of STCW standards on inland waters is neither necessary nor supported by historical casualty data, which do not demonstrate the need for substantive changes to domestic regulations for inland waters. The Coast Guard does not intend to apply international standards to our domestic mariners in this regard.

One commenter states that the final rule should clearly state that the requirements of STCW do not apply to inland towing operations or to crewmembers who work on inland towing vessels.

The Coast Guard agrees and emphasizes the STCW Convention applies to mariners serving on seagoing vessels, except pleasure craft, fishing vessels, and vessels entitled to sovereign immunity such as warships. Article II of the Convention defines a seagoing ship as a ship other than one that “navigates exclusively in inland waters or in waters within, or closely adjacent to, sheltered waters or areas where port regulations apply.” The provisions in this final rule that implement amendments to the STCW Convention only apply to commercial vessels operating seaward of the boundary line, as specified in 46 CFR part 7.

Three commenters state that, since the STCW Convention and Code were written to correct the well-documented lack of competence and professionalism on some large, deep-sea vessels with large and diverse crews, the authors and users of the U.S. MMC regulations need to remember that the U.S. workboat fleet, consisting of tugs, OSVs, crewboats, seismic boats, etc., are NOT small ships. These boats have simplistic and redundant propulsion systems, wheelhouse engine control, small crew size, and typically operate on nearshore voyages with well-documented competence and an exemplary safety record. As such, a “one-size-fits-all” STCW system is unwarranted, unworkable, and unfair to the workboat fleet, say the commenters. They note and appreciate that the SNPRM has shown some flexibility in application to workboats, but say more flexibility is needed to avoid damage to this industry.

The Coast Guard recognizes that one-size-fits-all is not the correct implementation of the STCW Convention to the U.S. industry. Taking this into account, the Coast Guard has included the flexibilities provided by the Convention in this rule. For example, the regulatory text in 46 CFR part 11 includes an allowance for knowledge, understanding and proficiencies that may not be applicable to a certain type of vessel, in which case a limitation would be issued. Such exemptions are consistent with the Convention flexibility that allows for limitations based on size, operational area and vessel type.

Three commenters state that §§ 15.403(c) and 15.404(a) are too broad. They recommend that the Coast Guard replace “200 GRT/500 GT or more” with “500 GRT or more on a domestic voyage or 200 GRT/500 GT or more on an international voyage” for clarity and accuracy.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The Coast Guard has amended §§ 15.403(c) and 15.404(a) by replacing “200 GRT/500 GT or more” with “500 GT or more” consistent with the STCW requirements for RFPNW and able seafarer-deck. The STCW is a binding agreement with foreign countries, and these tonnage cutoffs are required by the STCW Convention.

The same commenters feel that the last sentences in §§ 15.404(b) and 15.404(d)(3) are overly broad. They suggest replacing them with “An Able Seaman filling an A/B billet on the COI and serving onboard a seagoing vessel, except those vessels listed in § 15.105(f) or (g) of this part, must also hold an STCW endorsement as able seafarer-deck.” They also suggest replacing the last sentence in § 14.404(d)(3) with “A QMED filling a QMED billet on the Certificate of Inspection and serving onboard a seagoing vessel, except those vessels listed in § 15.105(f) or (g) of this part, must also hold an STCW endorsement as able seafarer-engine.”

The same commenters feel that §§ 15.404(e) and 15.404(f) are inaccurate as drafted. They suggest that “Persons serving on vessels subject to the STCW Convention” be replaced with “Persons serving as Lifeboatman onboard a seagoing vessel, except those vessels listed in § 15.105(f) or (g) of this part”.

The Coast Guard disagrees with adding the proposed text because it would be redundant with the text in § 15.105(f) and (g). Furthermore, to add such a phrase might lead to confusion on those vessels that have a lifeboatman manning requirement without the associated STCW manning requirement. Finally, the exemptions in §§ 15.105(f) and (g) apply to all of 46 CFR part 15, including § 15.404. Vessels listed in § 15.105(f) or (g) are already exempted from STCW compliance.

The same commenters ask if the endorsements in §§ 15.404(i), (j) and (k) are national endorsements, STCW endorsements, or both.

These endorsements are STCW endorsements.

Three commenters recommend that the Coast Guard amend proposed § 15.1103(b) by replacing “200 GRT/500 GT or more” with “over 500 GRT on a domestic voyage or over 200 GRT/500 GT on an international voyage” for clarity and accuracy.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The Coast Guard amended §§ 15.403(c) and 15.404(a) by replacing “200 GRT/500 GT or more” with “500 GT or more” consistent with the STCW requirements for RFPNW. STCW is a binding agreement with foreign countries, and these tonnage cutoffs are required by the STCW Convention.

One commenter states that, in § 15.1101(a)(2)(ii), STCW vessel certificates don't apply to vessels of less than 200 GRT/500 GT. However in § 15.1103(c), language is missing which would exempt 200 GRT/500 GT vessels. The commenter recommends that the exclusion language in § 15.1103(b) be included in § 15.1103(c).

The Coast Guard disagrees. The applicability of the entire subpart is identified in § 15.1101. The applicability of endorsements for deck ratings in § 15.1103(b) and (c) is 500 GT or more. The applicability of endorsements for engineering ratings in § 15.1103(d) and (e) is 1,000 HP/750 kW. These applicability requirements are consistent with Chapters II and III of the STCW Convention. Using the deck rating limitations on engineering ratings would be inconsistent with the STCW Convention.

Three commenters recommend that the Coast Guard amend §§ 15.1105(b) and (c) by replacing “Onboard a seagoing vessel,” with “Onboard a seagoing vessel, except those vessels listed in §§ 15.105(f) or (g) of this part.”

The Coast Guard agrees, and has amended §§ 15.1105(b) and (c) to ensure it clearly specifies the applicability of the section.

Three commenters feel that the proposed applicability in proposed § 15.1109 seems overly broad. In place of “all masters” they suggest it should say “all masters, except those serving on the vessels listed in § 15.105(f) or (g) of this part.”

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended § 15.1109 as recommended for clarity.

Three commenters observe that § 15.1109, concerning watchkeeping principles, refers to provisions of the Convention and Code that consist of more than 21 pages. In comparison, proposed § 15.1111 inserted the STCW Code text nearly verbatim. The commenters believe that if the Coast Guard is going to require the master to observe an external standard, it should at least summarize it in this section.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. While the full text of the STCW Convention and STCW Code is not readily available to individuals, the Coast Guard intends to publish NVICs with the relevant text of the Convention and Code, most notably the tables of competency from Part A of the STCW Code, consistent with the copyright held by the IMO. These NVICs will be made available online and will enable the public to view them as necessary.

One commenter is concerned that, on page 45933 of the SNPRM preamble, the Coast Guard notes that individual variances issued to small vessels on international voyages by local Captains of the Port for vessels on short international voyages to Canada, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, and Mexico will be rendered null and void once the proposed rulemaking becomes final. The commenter requests that the Coast Guard clarify the mariner credential, endorsement and manning requirements for small vessels of less than 200 GRT/500 GT, including towing vessels, engaged in international voyages to nearby foreign countries, such as Canada, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, and Mexico.

The Coast Guard disagrees that the proposed regulations are unclear. Existing regulations excepting smaller vessels in § 15.105(e) and (f) remain unchanged. Small vessels are considered to be in compliance with STCW when on domestic voyages. The regulations also provide for issuance of a restricted STCW endorsement for an occasional international voyage for these vessels. This regulatory provision has never provided for these endorsements to be used for routine international voyages. For those operators that routinely operate on international voyages, we have clarified the requirements for these STCW endorsements consistent with the STCW Convention and Code. Further, those small vessel operators that make routine international voyages have always been responsible for holding the appropriate STCW endorsement or certificate.

Four commenters state that it is the clear intent of 46 U.S.C. Chapter 143 and the IMO to not impose increased regulatory burdens on industry if the Convention measurement were used for applicability determinations of domestic and international rules. Therefore, they feel that any revisions to the regulations should include language to the effect of: “Existing Subchapter T/K vessels built prior to July 18, 1982 shall be allowed to apply United States regulations and international conventions, including SOLAS, STCW and MARPOL using their respective US regulatory tonnages that were in force prior to coming into force of the International Convention on Tonnage Measurement 1969 (ITC) for the life of the vessel.”

The Coast Guard disagrees. Owners of vessels built prior to the ITC are not required to obtain an ITC tonnage. However, if they do, they must comply with the provisions of STCW and other international conventions that apply GRT.

Four commenters state that all U.S. flag vessels with dual tonnages built prior to July 18, 1982, should have the following statements placed on the COI, International Ship Security Certificate, Safety Management Certificate, and SOLAS Passenger Ship Safety Certificates: (1) “The gross tonnage according to the measurement system previously in force to the measurement system of the International Convention on Tonnage Measurement, 1969 is {insert U.S. Regulatory Tonnage}, according to the regulations of the United States of America.”; and (2) “When operating on an International Voyage: All licensed individuals must hold licenses authorizing service on vessels of a tonnage at least equal to the vessel's U.S. Regulatory Tonnage as indicated on this Certificate of Inspection.”

With regard to (1), this recommendation is beyond the scope of this rulemaking. With regard to (2), the Coast Guard disagrees. STCW and the International Tonnage Convention require mariners on international voyages to meet the credentialing requirements applicable to the tonnage indicated for the voyage on which they are engaged.

One commenter states that uninspected fishing industry vessels are currently exempt from STCW. The United States is not currently a signatory party to the STCW-F convention which applies to fishing industry vessels; however, the commenter recommends that the domestic license structure be altered to include the second engineer, similar to the proposed limited, OSV, and MODU engineer license tracks.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The STCW Convention does not apply to fishing vessels. This final rule is intended to implement the STCW Convention, and provisions solely addressing domestic credentialing are outside its scope.

One commenter wants to exempt persons serving on pilot boats from application of the STCW Convention. The commenter recommends that the United States interpret the STCW Convention regarding pilot vessels as follows: Pilot vessels are not considered seagoing ships because they operate “in waters within, or closely adjacent to, sheltered waters or areas where port regulations apply.” Consistent with this recommended interpretation of the U.S. obligations under the STCW Convention, persons serving aboard pilot boats should be exempt from application of the STCW. Therefore, the commenter recommends that a new subparagraph (5) be inserted in § 15.105(f) as follows: (5) Pilot boats.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has amended §§ 15.105(f)(5) and 15.1101(a)(1)(v) to exempt pilot vessels engaged in pilotage duty from STCW requirements in those sections.

One commenter states that there is no exclusionary language in § 15.404(c) exempting vessels of less than 200 GRT/500 GT. They request that such an exemption be inserted in this section.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The STCW Convention's RFPEW requirements are based on HP/KW limitations and not tonnage limitation. The change proposed by the commenter would be inconsistent with the Convention.

One commenter states that there is a long history of cooperation between Canada and the United States concerning reciprocity of recognizing domestic licensing schemes. The commenter requests clarification of STCW applicability to vessels on voyages on these waters.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended text in § 10.232(b)(3) so that seafarers working under national endorsements but who sail on STCW-equipped and -manned vessels inside the boundary line can claim STCW sea service on a one-for-one basis.

17. General requirements

One commenter appreciates the Coast Guard efforts to listen to comments to NPRM. Another commenter appreciates the separation of the domestic and the STCW licensing schemes, and a third commenter states that NMC Policy Letter 11-07 was very beneficial to their company.

The Coast Guard appreciates these comments.

One commenter notes that § 11.301(c)(2) specifies the form for providing evidence of continued competence in fire fighting for STCW endorsements, but the proposal has no similar provision for the fire-fighting training required for domestic endorsements. The commenter recommends that a statement be included to describe the form of acceptable evidence to document continued competence for domestic endorsements.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Changes to fire-fighting training in this final rule are required by the STCW Convention and Code. The requested changes to fire-fighting training for domestic endorsements are outside the scope of this rulemaking because the Coast Guard proposed no changes in that area in the SNPRM. Therefore, we are not extending this requirement to vessels to which STCW does not apply.

One commenter is concerned that the Coast Guard is narrowing the spectrum of jobs that will qualify for sea service credit in § 10.232(f).

The Coast Guard disagrees. The Coast Guard did not change the types of jobs that will receive sea service credit. The change in sea service credit was limited to: (1) Consolidating all requirements in parts 10, 11 and 12 into one section that addresses sea service; and (2) expanding the type of service creditable towards STCW credentials to include near-coastal and Great Lakes service.

One commenter states that the various tables in 46 CFR part 11, subparts C, D, and E are confusing and do not clearly show how someone with a domestic license (e.g., second mate) can enter and qualify for an appropriate STCW endorsement (e.g., chief mate). The commenter recommends that these tables be combined into a single table, or shown as a figure instead of a table.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The separate tables in part 11 describe the endorsement requirements more clearly than a single consolidation would and are co-located with the associated requirements referenced in the tables.

Two commenters recommend that the Coast Guard publish a list of existing policy documents (or portions of policy documents) that it intends to cancel upon publication of the final rule.

The Coast Guard agrees. All policy letters that have been incorporated or overcome by this final rule will be cancelled, and the Coast Guard will notify the public as soon as possible through a notice in the Federal Register.

18. Hours of Rest

Fourteen commenters feel that, with regard to § 15.1111(g), requiring records of daily hours of rest for mariners would be redundant with records kept in the official ship's logbook. This will impose an unnecessary administrative burden upon vessel officers, mariners and oversight authorities since the information required by this section should be available for all parties to check in the official ship's logbook. They also recommend that the Coast Guard change the last sentence to read “A copy of the records shall be provided to the mariner upon request.”

The Coast Guard agrees in part. The Coast Guard will accept entries in the logbook. This section, as drafted, does not preclude the use of the logbook as a means to keep records of rest periods. The Coast Guard will consider developing a consolidated form to capture mandated work/rest information. In response to the commenters' second recommendation, the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention require that seafarers receive a copy of the records pertaining to them. Although the language of the provision has been altered slightly from what was proposed in the SNPRM, the requirement to provide seafarers with a copy of their records, whether requested or not, has been retained.

One commenter notes that the SNPRM proposes to increase the amount of rest that mariners must be provided in any 7-day period from 70 hours to a minimum of 77 hours. This increase enhances mariners' ability to reduce fatigue. However, the commenter notes that the change still falls short in two areas. First, the commenter believes, it does not apply to mariners in domestic service, including those transiting the Great Lakes and the Inside Passage. Second, it does not address the hours of the day/night during which the rest should be obtained, and thus does not preclude disrupted circadian rhythms or fragmented sleep periods from adversely affecting mariner performance. The commenter believes that the Coast Guard should modify its hours of service rules accordingly. Moreover, the commenter urges the Coast Guard to work with the IMO to change international rules to ensure that mariners worldwide operate under work schedules that, in accordance with the scientific literature on circadian rhythms, provide sufficient rest.

One commenter stated that language should be added to § 15.1111(g) to the effect that if the vessel is a day boat, records of daily hours of rest are not required. Why record the rest period for a crew member if they have left the vessel for home and are returning a different day for another run?

The Coast Guard disagrees. The hours of rest in part 15, subpart K only apply to vessels subject to STCW and not inland vessels. We are unable to modify the hours of rest for vessels to which STCW does not apply as part of this rulemaking because it would require changes to the U.S. Code and is therefore outside the scope of this rulemaking.

Two commenters recommend that, with regard to § 15.1111, the Coast Guard, working with MERPAC, develop a U.S. standard record keeping form or program for the maintenance of daily hours of rest so a uniform system across the U.S. flag fleet can be implemented. This will not only assist port state control oversight but also lessen any additional burden upon the U.S. mariner.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. The Coast Guard will accept entries in the logbook and the use of the standard IMO/ILO record of hours of rest as a means to document hours of rest. The text as currently drafted does not preclude the use of the logbook as a means to keep records of rest periods. The Coast Guard will consider developing a consolidated form to capture mandated work/rest.

One commenter notes that, in § 15.1111, the term “rest period” has no real definition. It should be replaced with the term “off duty period” for the sake of clarity.

The Coast Guard disagrees and is retaining the existing definition for “rest” in § 10.107, which provides, in part, that rest is a period of time during which the person concerned is off duty.

Two commenters state that, with regard to § 15.1111, the proposal is ambiguous and requires amendments to address, or exclude, off-watch work-related hours spent on travel, dead-heads, etc. The proposal fails to outline a method by which crews working a 12-hour watch, commuting to and from the vessel on a daily or nightly basis, are to record so called “rest periods.” Lastly, the full definition of a “rest period” needs to be presented and clarified.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Rest is defined in 46 U.S.C. 8104 and in § 10.107 of this final rule, as that period when the mariner is off duty, not performing work, and allowed to sleep without interruption. The Coast Guard has previously established policy that traveling to and from the vessel is neutral time, which is neither rest nor work.

Seafarers serving onboard vessels authorized to implement a 12-hour watch under 46 U.S.C. 8104 will be required to document the hours of rest. The Coast Guard will accept entries in the logbook and the use of the standard IMO/ILO record of hours of rest as means to document hours of rest. The Coast Guard will also consider developing a consolidated form to capture mandated work/rest. The Coast Guard plans to retain the definition for “rest” in § 10.107, which provides, in part, that rest is a period of time during which the person concerned is off duty.

One commenter asks, with regard to § 15.1111, if the Coast Guard will summarize the impact of this requirement on vessel operations and potentially manning, as it will apply not only to watchkeepers, but also to those with safety, pollution prevention and security responsibilities—this includes the master and chief engineer.

The rest requirements apply to all persons assigned duty as an OICNW or OICEW, or duty as ratings forming part of a navigational or engineering watch, or designated safety, prevention of pollution, and security duties onboard any vessel. It is the company's responsibility to ensure that all persons mentioned above are afforded rest in accordance with § 15.1111.

Three commenters note that § 15.1111(g) requires both the master and each mariner to “endorse” the rest schedule. This “endorsement” is not required by the STCW Code and will reduce the rest of all vessel personnel, if reporting to a central location to sign the rest schedule after each watch is required. The commenters recommend dropping the proposed endorsement requirement.

The Coast Guard agrees. The copy of the records due to the mariner is what is required to be endorsed, and we have amended § 15.1111(g) to reflect this.

With regard to § 15.1111, one commenter believes that requiring more rest for mariners equates to requiring more crew. Many U.S. shipping companies are at minimum manning due to the high cost of maintaining crews and vessels. Additional regulations will only drive business overseas and deplete the U.S. fleet further.

The Coast Guard disagrees because no commenter has provided, and the Coast Guard is not aware of, any data in support of these arguments. Additionally, the STCW Code and Convention prescribes training, not manning, requirements, and the hours of rest are international requirements that apply to all vessels subject to STCW.

As discussed in the SNPRM and supporting Regulatory Analysis, we believe that the new requirements can be accommodated without changing existing watch rotations or current crew sizes, therefore resulting in no additional cost. According to Coast Guard industry experts, STCW vessels engaged in transoceanic voyages are staffed with a 3-watch crew rotation. Even for STCW vessels staffed with only 2 watches, resulting in an average of 12 hours of rest per day or 84 hours a week, the 77 hours a week rest requirement should be able to be met without change in watch schedules. The Coast Guard will monitor the implementation of rest hour requirements and report any new data it finds on industry costs to implement these requirements.

One commenter notes that offshore petroleum operators are required to meet both the work-hour requirements of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) and rest hour requirements of STCW. The SNPRM includes a definition of “rest” but not one for “work.” This is problematic, as it could be interpreted that a mariner, who is not resting, therefore, must be working. If that were the case, it will be impossible for some operators to meet the requirements of OPA 90, since drills will be considered work. The commenter recommends that a definition of “work” be added that explicitly states emergencies and drills will not be considered “work.” This will allow petroleum operators the flexibility to track all work/rest/drill hours in one continuous log rather than maintain separate logs for each purpose under unclear guidelines.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Part 15, subpart K applies to vessels subject to STCW, and the Convention does not address work. Therefore, it was not included in this rulemaking. Adding a definition for “work” would need to be part of a separate rulemaking subject to public notice and comment.

One commenter believes that the need to track both work and rest hours may be overly burdensome for these mariners. With that said, however, the commenter states that there may be some trends in identifying fatigue, or advantages in tracking rest in lieu of work or vice-versa. The commenter recommends that the Coast Guard examine the efficacy of tracking hours of rest and hours of work.

This is outside the scope of this rulemaking. This rulemaking only made changes related to the hours of rest in the STCW Convention. This rulemaking does not include changes to work-hour requirements. Furthermore, we are unable to modify the hours of service as part of this rulemaking because it would require changes to the U.S. Code.

19. Radar Endorsements

One commenter notes that currently mariners need only carry the radar certificate with them and it does not have to be endorsed on their new credential. The commenter says the Coast Guard has provided no rationale for the change in § 11.480(d), which requires that an applicant for a radar observer endorsement or for renewal of such an endorsement to submit evidence of training to the Coast Guard. The commenter states that this is both time-consuming and an additional expense for mariners, and recommends that the current policy remain in place.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The Coast Guard proposed changes to the radar observer requirements that explicitly permit mariners to submit evidence of training in person, by mail, fax, or other electronic means. The requirement to submit such evidence, however, predates this rulemaking, and was established by a rule published in the Federal Register on September 11, 2008, (73 FR 52789).

Two commenters note that § 10.209 states that if the applicant desires a credential with a radar-observer endorsement in accordance with § 11.480 of this subchapter, either the radar-observer certificate or a certified copy must be presented. The commenter notes that current Coast Guard policy is to accept copies of any certificate when submitting the application. The commenters recommend that the current policy be retained and that the Coast Guard continue to accept copies of any training certificates and documents submitted with the application.

The Coast Guard agrees. We currently accept copies of all course-completion certificates, including those for radar, and we have amended § 10.209 accordingly.

20. Ratings

Four commenters note that, in §§ 12.603(b) and 12.607(b), it says “Until January 1, 2017, seafarers may be considered to have met the requirements of this section.” The phrase “may be” is unclear. The commenters recommend replacing “may be” with “will be” to improve application and clarity. Assuming the effective date of the final rule will be very soon, this flexibility will be necessary to avoid overwhelming the Coast Guard with able seafarer applications and stripping the U.S. flag fleet of qualified crew members while awaiting thousands of new STCW endorsements.

The Coast Guard agrees and has revised the sections as recommended to ensure clarity.

One commenter notes that, in proposed § 12.701, the paragraph begins with “Every person employed in a rating other than A/B or QMED aboard U.S. flag vessels requiring such persons.” As drafted, this paragraph appears intended to apply 46 U.S.C. 8701, but instead expands the requirements of the law. The commenter suggests it say instead “Every person employed as a rating aboard U.S. flag vessels of 100 GRT/100 GT or more, except as exempted by 46 U.S.C. 8701.”

The Coast Guard agrees in part. As written, the paragraph appears to require MMDs in more situations than envisioned by 46 U.S.C. 8701. Section 12.701 has been revised to clarify: (1) That a rating endorsement on an MMC qualifies as holding an MMD; and (2) that the requirement to hold an MMD only applies to vessels subject to 46 U.S.C. 8701. The MMD requirement in the statute extends beyond those employed as a rating to anyone employed or engaged upon the vessel.

One commenter notes that, in light of STCW standards for able seafarer-deck that go far beyond the U.S. requirements for service and training that have served our mariners well, it is laudable that the Coast Guard has adopted transitional provisions in §§ 12.603(a) and (b) that will delay, if not mitigate, the additional burdens imposed by the Convention. The table in § 12.603(e), however, could be read to “trump” those provisions. The commenter recommends changing § 12.603(e) to the effect that, “Except as provided in (b) and (c), seafarers with the following . . . .”

The Coast Guard agrees in part. The table in § 12.603(e) already accounts for the provisions in § 12.603(a). Additionally, to avoid misinterpretation, the Coast Guard amended footnote “*” to link the table to the requirements for certification as a RFPNW in § 12.603(a)(2) and (3). The Coast Guard amended § 12.603(e) to ensure that it does not override the provisions in paragraphs (b) and (c).

Two commenters express concern that the A/B maintenance and watchstander billets will be replaced by the ordinary seaman, who does not have enough experience to be steering vessels. Therefore, the commenter recommends leaving the RFPNW restricted to lookout duties until he becomes able seaman-special.

The Coast Guard disagrees. RFPNW is a prerequisite for able seaman but requires competence in lookout duties, steering, etc. U.S. Code and existing manning regulations also include provisions on when an ordinary seaman can actually assume the duties of a helmsman as well as standing watches.

Two commenters state it is their understanding that our domestic RFPNW able seaman-special will no longer be able to sail internationally (outside the boundary lines) until he obtains an able seafarer-deck endorsement (§§ 15.404 and 12.603). The commenters ask if a mariner sails as a RFPNW, will this reduce the need for able seafarer-deck onboard. They would like the assurance that entry level mariners will not replace able seamen onboard ships sailing beyond the boundary line.

Entry-level mariners will not replace able seamen onboard vessels sailing beyond the boundary line. The numbers of able seamen are required by regulation. Section 15.404(b) has been amended to clarify the manning of vessels with A/Bs holding either RFPNW or able seafarer-deck.

One commenter states that § 12.607(e) could be misconstrued to take precedence over the transitional provisions in paragraphs (b) and (c).

The Coast Guard agrees in part. The table in § 12.607(e) already accounts for the provisions in § 12.607(a). Additionally, to avoid misinterpretation the Coast Guard amended footnote “*” to link the table to the requirements for certification as a RFPNW in § 12.607(a)(2) and (3). The Coast Guard also is amending § 12.607(e) to ensure that it does not override the provisions in paragraphs (b) and (c).

21. Recognition of Certificates

One commenter suggested that the MMCs issued to foreign mariners in recognition of their STCW endorsement contain specific language describing the scope and authority of the MMC.

The Coast Guard agrees with the concerns of the commenter and notes that foreign mariners will not be issued an MMC. Rather, they will be issued a separate document. The Coast Guard has yet to decide upon the specific design of this document, and will consider the recommendations of the commenter when the document is designed. Part 11, subpart J of this final rule contains provisions on recognition of STCW certificates issued by foreign nations.

One commenter disagrees with the proposal to recognize certificates issued by other parties to the STCW Convention. Presently there is a shortage of U.S. merchant mariners, and the commenter says it is incumbent upon our regulatory bodies as well as industry itself to promote the U.S. merchant marine to maintain a strong maritime presence in the U.S. and worldwide.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The U.S. will recognize certificates issued by other parties to the STCW Convention in accordance with existing laws of the United States. Under 46 U.S.C. 8103(b)(3)(A), the citizenship requirements can be waived for mariners other than master on OSVs operating from a foreign port. To ensure compliance with the STCW Convention, in the limited cases of OSVs, the U.S. needs to recognize seafarer competence certificates from other countries that have ratified the STCW Convention.

22. Qualified Assessors (QA)

One commenter notes that, in § 10.405(c), the requirement for a “Train-the-Trainer” course to follow IMO model course 6.09 is contrary to the Coast Guard's existing policy of allowing most 40-hour “Train-the-Trainer” courses offered by State educational systems. The commenter recommends that the current policy continue to be accepted as meeting “another Coast Guard-accepted syllabus.”

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended § 10.405(c) to broaden the acceptance of courses based on another Coast Guard-accepted syllabus.

Thirty three commenters feel that, just because a mariner may possess any given rating or license, this does not mean that this mariner is also proficient in teaching and assessment competencies. The commenters believe that any program that includes onboard teaching and assessments should be Coast Guard certified as meeting QSS requirements including ongoing oversight of assessor qualifications including periodic audits consistent with the requirements already imposed on shore based training providers.

The Coast Guard agrees and will be developing guidance for qualified assessors (QAs) and the assessment of STCW proficiencies.

One commenter states that one valuable thing that a well-rounded licensed officer must have is experience on all type of vessels, in all types of waters under all types of conditions. The licenses for third and second mate allow the mariner to “sail” on all types of vessels. However, the proposed rules will allow assessments to be made on only one type of vessel. How could a mariner sailing on an OSV gain any knowledge of a container ship, car carrier, tanker, tug boat, etc.? Years of training have given the U.S. airline industry one of the safest records in the world. The commenter believes that the maritime industry needs to follow this plan.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The STCW requirements and the U.S. credentialing system allow for mariners to sail on all types of vessels; however, the average mariner does not have experience on all types of vessels. The competence requirements in the STCW convention and U.S. regulations are supplemented by familiarization requirements onboard the vessel prior to the seafarer taking the responsibilities of his or her assigned duties.

The Coast Guard will be developing guidance for QAs and the assessment of STCW proficiencies. It is important that the U.S. not reduce its commitment to ensuring that its mariners develop according to a high standard of competence. However, the Coast Guard also recognizes that this development of competencies must be flexible and multifaceted to facilitate mariner training. The use of QAs and standardized assessments will provide options for mariner development, as well as providing standards for the training and maritime industries to use in development of required and optional courses and programs. Those courses and programs will also provide other options for mariner training and development.

One commenter recommends that § 10.405(c) become § 10.405(b)(4). The commenter points out that applicants for QA positions may provide documentary evidence of a “Train-the-Trainer” course, which seems inappropriate. The commenter recommends that a “train the assessor” course be added as an acceptable program.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended § 10.405 to ensure that the QA is trained in proper assessment techniques, by means of an “assessor training” course. In addition, this topic will also be discussed in the guidance that the Coast Guard is developing concerning QAs.

The Coast Guard disagrees, however, with re-designating § 10.405(c) as § 10.405(b)(4). Section 10.405(c) provides specific information applicable to both § 10.405(a) and § 10.405(b), which set out the requirements for QA and DE respectively.

One commenter notes that in § 11.301(a)(1)(i), it says that assessments are signed by a DE, but he believes that it should read “qualified assessor” because these provisions are specific to STCW endorsements.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has revised § 11.301(a)(1)(i) as recommended.

23. License Progression

One commenter states that, with regard to § 11.305(e), he strongly supports the crossover paths from domestic to STCW endorsements. These advancement opportunities will not only encourage ambitious individuals to enter the maritime workforce, they will motivate those individuals to obtain the training needed to establish the required competence.

The Coast Guard appreciates this support.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard develop career paths for chief engineer (MODU) and assistant engineer (MODU).

The Coast Guard disagrees. The MODU industry has established processes for their personnel and the Coast Guard already has established progression tasks for engineers who wish to transition to a conventional vessel.

Three commenters note that § 11.305 requires evidence of 36 months service as OICNW to qualify for an STCW endorsement as unlimited master oceans without any time required as chief mate. In current § 11.404, the minimum service required to qualify an applicant for an endorsement as master of ocean any gross tons is 1 year of service as chief mate or a minimum of 6 months as chief mate with 12 months as second or third mate. The proposed reduction in experience is a deskilling of the unlimited master ocean license. The commenter recommends retaining the current requirements.

Another commenter notes that proposed § 11.305 has a provision that would permit a master of less than 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT to cross over to master 3,000 GT or more (unlimited) with only 6 months service on vessels of under 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT and no experience on vessels of unlimited size. Under the current regulations, a master 1,600 GRT oceans can cross over to third mate unlimited oceans with 12 months service or second mate unlimited with an examination. The commenter says that permitting the proposed drastic reduction in experience from the current regulation in essence allows an individual with a license that formerly was considered equivalent to third or second mate unlimited to progress to unlimited ocean master with only 6 months experience in ships of limited size. The commenter says this is an astounding reduction of standards, and recommends retaining the current requirements.

The Coast Guard disagrees. This cross over provision, which is consistent with the STCW Convention, is available only to those mariners who have already obtained a national endorsement with authority to operate vessels of unlimited tonnage or offshore support vessels of up to 10,000 GT. Additionally, the STCW competence and training requirements will ensure that those persons seeking to obtain the management-level STCW endorsement have demonstrated competence and achieved the required level of training.

One commenter notes that the definition of “chief mate” in § 10.107 clearly characterizes the role and responsibility of a 1,600 GRT mate on a vessel allowed to operate under a two-watch system. Therefore the commenter expects that the use of the term “chief mate” in § 11.311 will permit such service (or service while holding a master endorsement) to satisfy the provision allowing for a reduction in service to 24 months provided that 12 months is “served as chief mate.” However, the commenter is concerned that the provision will be misconstrued as written and recommend that it be reworded to allow the reduction “. . . if the applicant served in the capacity of chief mate for not less than 12 months.”

The Coast Guard agrees in part. Where the mariner holds a management-level credential, and fills the position as mate, and the position meets the definition of chief mate found in § 10.107, then that service will be credited as chief mate. However, the Coast Guard does not believe this section is confusing and likely to be misconstrued, nor did the Coast Guard revise this definition as part of this rulemaking project.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard consider streamlining ocean, OSV, and Uninspected Vessel qualification training pipelines by utilizing current STCW certifications for their basis rather than the HP rating.

The Coast Guard did not propose a change in the national endorsement scheme. Regulatory changes on that subject would need to be part of a separate rulemaking and subject to public notice and comment.

One commenter notes that, for unlimited tonnage vessels (at least 1,600 GRT), the U.S. domestic license structure provides for four licenses, whereas the STCW convention provides for three licenses. The commenter says that our domestic licensing system works well and is easily adaptable to meet STCW requirements. It supports a three-watch system or periodically unmanned engine rooms.

The Coast Guard has been using the four-license national structure to fit in with the STCW three-license system since the 1997 IR. The national third assistant engineer and second assistant engineer endorsements, as well as the national third and second mate endorsements, fall neatly within the STCW OICNW and OICEW endorsements. Typically, national master and chief mate align with their STCW counterparts, and the national chief engineer and first assistant engineer endorsements also align with theirs.

One commenter notes that, for limited tonnage vessels (at least 500 GT up to 1,600 GT), our domestic license structure provides for only two licenses, whereas the STCW convention provides for three licenses. Currently, the limited assistant engineer license is endorsed for oceans. The restricted limited chief engineer license is endorsed for near-coastal, where the unrestricted limited chief engineer license is endorsed for oceans. Therefore, the commenter recommends that the Coast Guard restructure the domestic license track to mirror STCW and introduce a limited second engineer license. Any restrictions, in terms of routes, would be issued strictly on the basis of STCW certification. Without the appropriate STCW certificate, the domestic license would be restricted to near-coastal, regardless of the level of the license. With the appropriate STCW certificate, the scope of the license would be extended to oceans, again regardless of the level of the license. This proposed license structure would support a two- or three-watch system or a periodically unmanned engine room.

The same commenter proposes that the domestic license tracks for OSV and MODU follow the same pattern as proposed for the limited-license track, introducing a second engineer license. This proposed license structure would support a two- or three-watch system or periodically unmanned engine rooms.

The same commenter also notes that, for limited tonnage vessels less than 500 GT, our domestic license structure provides for three designated duty engineer licenses, although most vessels would carry just one licensed engineer. The restrictions placed on the DDE license are based on horsepower and routes as a function of qualifying sea service in the engine room. The commenter recommends that the horsepower limits be based on conventional methods used for the other license tracks, rather than sea service requirements.

The Coast Guard agrees in part and has removed the endorsement for chief engineer (limited-near-coastal) in § 11.520. We also amended sections §§ 11.518 and 11.522 to establish new crossover points from limited to unlimited national engineering endorsements. However, the remainder of the commenter's suggested progression paths are unnecessarily complex. The Coast Guard's licensing scheme is clearer and is based upon the Coast Guard's long experience and the maritime industry's needs.

Ten commenters believe that the proposed changes in the engineering training requirements in the SNPRM represent a significant improvement over the NPRM. The commenters believe, though, that additional changes are needed to ensure an engineering career path that meets the twin goals of safety and practicality. The commenters recommend the removal of all route restrictions in § 15.915 so an engineer seeking to sail on an international or ocean voyage will require an STCW endorsement. The commenters believe that the need to obtain an STCW endorsement creates a route restriction.

Additionally, five commenters recommend that the Coast Guard allow direct crossover from lower-level to upper-level licenses where appropriate, including a new crossover from chief engineer (limited) to first assistant engineer (unlimited).

Similarly, five commenters recommend that the Coast Guard provide a direct crossover from third assistant engineer to DDE-unlimited HP and assistant engineer (limited) to vessels under 1,600 GRT, and from second assistant engineer to chief engineer (limited) to vessels under 1,600 GRT.

The Coast Guard agrees with most of these comments. In this final rule, the Coast Guard has provided a crossover from chief engineer (limited) to first assistant engineer. Direct crossover from third assistant engineer and assistant engineer (limited) to DDE is already permitted in current regulations. Additionally, the Coast Guard has added, in figure § 11.505(a) of this final rule, a direct crossover from third assistant engineer to assistant engineer (limited). The Coast Guard does not agree, though, with the need for a crossover from second assistant engineer to chief engineer (limited) because first assistant engineer is the crossover point to chief engineer (limited). Also, removal of the national route restrictions would require a separate rulemaking subject to public notice and comment.

One commenter encourages the Coast Guard to take this opportunity to review engineer endorsements and licenses for the operation of 46 CFR chapter I, subchapter H vessels on inland waters within three miles from land.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The current regulations allow the OCMI to set manning requirements and national credentials already exist to cover this type of operation, and changes to these regulations are outside the scope of this rulemaking.

One commenter states that proposed new language will allow officers serving on vessels subject to 46 CFR chapter I, subchapters T and K to obtain an STCW endorsement, but at the same time will prohibit officers serving on the vessels subject to 46 CFR chapter I, subchapter H from realizing the same benefit. The commenter recommends that the Coast Guard reverse this policy and grant STCW endorsements to those officers serving on 46 CFR chapter I, subchapter H vessels.

The Coast Guard disagrees. STCW applies to seagoing commercial vessels, except fishing vessels. However, special provisions allow for exempting smaller vessels on near-coastal voyages from unreasonable or impracticable requirements. The exemptions for small passenger vessels engaged exclusively on domestic voyages is limited to vessels less than 100 GRT and engaged in domestic trade. In 1997, the Coast Guard determined that an equivalency between STCW requirements and current U.S. laws and industry practice is justified. The revisions to the rules on inspection and certification of small passenger vessels (46 CFR chapter I, subchapters T and K), as well as the fact that the Coast Guard has the opportunity to perform direct oversight of the operational aspects of these vessels, supports such an equivalency. Therefore, this final rule imposes no new requirements either on personnel serving on these vessels or on their owners or operators. In contrast, 46 CFR chapter I, subchapter H applies to vessels of more than 100 GRT. Because these vessels are more complex, and can carry more passengers onboard, STCW regulations require additional training, service, and assessments.

One commenter recommends that Figure 11.403 should include the master of towing vessels progression and appropriate crossover points.

The Coast Guard agrees, but has provided the separate progression paths as well as credentialing crossovers in Figure 11.463 for improved readability.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard add to § 11.412 an upgrade from master 500 GRT Oceans (domestic) to 1,600 GRT oceans (domestic) with one additional year of sea service under the authority of the license above 50 GRT. This is congruent with the service requirement in Table 1 to § 11.311(d) for ocean master more than 200 GRT/500 GT and less than 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT.

The Coast Guard agrees in part and has added a paragraph noting that mariners may raise the grade of an officer endorsement as master from less than 500 GRT to less than 1,600 GRT with 1 year of service as a master, mate, or master or mate (pilot) of towing vessels on vessels over 100 GRT.

One commenter disagrees with the route limitation in § 15.915(a)(1) and recommends that the Coast Guard remove it, because there is a lot of towing commerce between the West Coast, Alaska, and Hawaii. The commenter believes insertion of this route restriction will hurt the towing industry.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The Coast Guard did not propose any changes to this paragraph. This final rule provides for a progression to endorsements valid for oceans service. If mariners serve on vessels operating on oceans, they may obtain one of the engineer endorsements authorizing service on oceans.

One commenter notes that § 11.420 requires 1 year of service as mate in order to obtain an original mate 500 GRT Ocean license. This is illogical, the commenter says, as a mate position is an entry level deck officer position. A provision allowing for an original 500 GRT mate license with 3 years of service on ocean or near-coastal routes on vessels greater than 50 GRT should be added.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The Coast Guard did not propose any changes to the service requirements for an endorsement as mate less than 500 GRT in § 11.420. The requirement in that section for an applicant to have at least 1 year service as a master, mate or equivalent supervisory service, of which at least 6 months must be on vessels of more than 50 GRT, to qualify for this endorsement remains unchanged from the current regulation.

One commenter notes that there are currently two paths to master on vessels of less than 200 GRT: 36 months on vessels of greater than 200 GRT; and 1 year acting as master on a towing vessel, but there are no tonnages mentioned in regulation.

The Coast Guard agrees and has deleted the tonnage requirement from § 11.317(a)(1).

Two commenters recommend that the Coast Guard look very closely at the implementation schedule proposed for these credentials, especially for those vessels of less than 200 GRT. There will be a great shortage for engineers on these vessels. The commenters say the Coast Guard should work with industry to develop career paths and a realistic implementation period.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The rule provides an implementation period ending on January 1, 2017. In addition, we have provided multiple progression paths to facilitate engineers operating on tow boats to be able to obtain an STCW endorsement.

Two commenters believe that the new STCW requirements will make it even more challenging for their industry to develop future engineers. The commenters recommend that QMED time be credited on a 2-for-1 basis for up to 50 percent of the service time required for upgrade. They believe that such a provision is necessary in order to allow individuals with significant service time as unlicensed engineer to obtain the STCW endorsement needed to continue their career in the towing industry.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The STCW Convention does not allow for the use of rating time towards management level credentials. We have added new progression paths in part 12, subpart F to ensure engineering ratings can qualify.

24. License Separation Scheme

Four commenters state that separation of the STCW endorsements from the domestic licensing scheme does nothing to make it easier for mariners to read and understand the requirements for each STCW endorsement. By separating the two sides of the existing credentialing scheme, the commenters believe the Coast Guard fails to consider the simplicity of the STCW scheme and the manner in which it accounts for credentialing options limited to near-coastal voyages.

The Coast Guard disagrees. This final rule clarifies endorsement requirements, while being responsive to comments to the SNPRM and NPRM from industry supporting separate schemes. The final rule also provides clearer career progression paths from national to STCW endorsements.

One commenter is in agreement with the proposal to separate the two licensing schemes, but notes that there are many domestic mariners who either have come from the STCW realm and continue to work as mariners or are deep-sea mariners who work domestically during periods of time off and then return to their regular duties. The commenter recommends that OCMIs should evaluate training and drill programs of the domestic fleets and allow credit for any training and drills that meet OCMI/NMC guidelines.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. Evaluation of training courses and evidence of drills are part of the NMC's functions. Providing these functions from a central location ensures a uniform and consistent implementation of the STCW Convention requirements. One of the functions of the Regional Examination Centers is to provide oversight for the courses.

One commenter states that, in the requirements for a domestic 500 GRT oceans master endorsement (§ 11.418) in accordance with paragraph (c), an individual “may qualify for an STCW endorsement, according to §§ 11.307, 11.311, 11.313 and 11.315 of this part.” However, the proposed rules do not provide an STCW endorsement as master beyond 200 GRT/500 GT without additional sea service; nor do they provide ability to work as an OICNW on vessels of less than 200 GRT/500 GT, requirements which would have been met according to § 11.309.

The Coast Guard agrees. This rulemaking only allows the master of oceans self-propelled vessels of less than 500 GRT to obtain an endorsement as master of vessels of less than 500 GT without providing additional service. If a seafarer holds an STCW endorsement as OICNW, §§ 11.307, 11.311, 11.313, and 11.315 of this final rule contain provisions for obtaining the management-level endorsements.

Two commenters state that, according to § 11.305(d), seafarers holding an STCW endorsement as master of vessels of 200 GRT/500 GT or more and less than 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT in accordance with § 11.311 are eligible to apply for the endorsement as master on vessels of 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT or more upon completion of 6 months of sea service, under authority of the endorsement; and complete any items in §§ 11.305(a)(2) and (a)(3) not previously satisfied. The commenters ask if this means that someone holding the respective domestic license would be able to upgrade to an unlimited master.

As previously noted, we are separating the national officer endorsement from the STCW endorsement in this final rule, and mariners must meet the separate qualification requirements for each endorsement.

25. GT/GRT Equivalency

One commenter states that, in § 15.915(a), the Coast Guard has added the 200 GRT wording to what currently only says 500 GT. The commenter believes this has a great effect on uninspected towing vessels between the 200 and 300 GRT range, which would mean that a DDE-unlimited would no longer be able to work on vessels in this range. The commenter recommends either retaining the original language, or substituting terms of uninspected vessels which would limit it to 300 GRT, or defining it as 300 GRT/500 ITC. This, the commenter believes, would allow engineers who have been working on these vessels for many years to continue doing so.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has restored the 500 GRT limit as found in existing § 15.915(a). DDEs working on vessels subject to STCW are covered by their STCW endorsements as found in §§ 11.325 and 11.331. However, the DDE limitations on their national endorsements still apply.

One commenter states that § 11.301(d)(4) regarding dual-tonnage service may cause confusion and result in unintended consequences and notes that several dual-tonnage vessels have tonnage that falls above one threshold but below the other (i.e., 199 GRT/538 ITC or 235 GRT/424 ITC). In these instances, the commenter believes, the manning requirements are primarily driven by whether the vessel is operating domestically or internationally. The commenter recommends that this be considered and that the Coast Guard modify this section so that the mariner is given sea service credit at whichever equivalency is higher.

The Coast Guard agrees that using dual-tonnage may cause confusion. In order to address this issue, the Coast Guard will issue guidance to specify the process for determining the tonnage to be used when applying for a credential.

26. High-Speed Craft (HSC)

Four commenters feel that the type rating certificate renewal period every 2 years is too short a span and should be increased to 5 years to match all other industry standard MMCs. The commenters recommend that, if the HSC licensing has to remain at 2-year renewal intervals: (1) 90 days sea service should be required as opposed to 180 days; and, (2) 4 round trips over each route instead of 12 round trips, as long as the licensed deck officer also has current first-class pilotage over the routes. Another option could be to stay with the present 12 required round trips every 2 years, but allow trips aboard non-HSC type vessels to be credited on a 2-for-1 basis for up to 50 percent of the trips so long as the licensed deck officer is also a first-class pilot for those routes.

The Coast Guard disagrees. This proposal would diminish the requirements applied under the HSC code that were taken directly from that code. The Coast Guard has amended the HSC code section to ensure it is only applicable to seafarers operating vessels subject to the HSC Code.

Three commenters are concerned that the wording in § 11.821 could cause a problem for every operator of a vessel to which the HSC Code does not apply. The commenters recommend that the wording be changed because the Coast Guard inspectors may apply this to any vessel that operates at high speed. Alternatively, the commenters believe the Coast Guard should further define the application here and the term “High Speed Craft” should be added to the definitions section in part 10, so that it is clear to all that the Coast Guard is not requiring every operator of every craft that goes over 25 knots to be type rated.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended the HSC code section to ensure it is only applicable to seafarers operating vessels to which that code applies.

One commenter is opposed to having a separate type rating certificate (TRC) for each type of HSC and believes it would require repetition in the already archaic licensing application process. If existing licensed crew members are hired, and they have to have a separate individual type rating added to their existing license, the commenter believes it will stall the entire process of hiring.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The HSC code requires an operator to be trained on specific vessels or classes of vessels. If the HSC code is applicable to a vessel, the Coast Guard will continue to require compliance with that requirement; however, the training requirement would not apply to the owners and operators of those vessels not subject to the HSC code.

Three commenters believe that it is inappropriate and confusing to insert TRC in proposed § 11.821 and that the requirement for a TRC for a HSC is derived from the HSC code, not from STCW. The commenters note that the HSC code is not referenced and not incorporated into this rulemaking and that there are currently two vessels in the U.S. operating in compliance with the HSC code, and a fleet of vessels that are not “code boats.” The commenters believe it would be confusing to the Coast Guard and the industry to have this section of a separate code incorporated here without sufficient definition or explanation. As a result, the commenter believes the entire section should be deleted.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. We proposed to include the high-speed craft provisions in the SNPRM, and included them in this final rule, because these vessels are in use within the U.S. and the existing regulations did not account for them. These new requirements will further promote safe operation of these vessels. Section 11.821 has been amended to clarify that it applies only to vessels subject to the HSC code.

27. Horsepower

One commenter observes that trade publications highlighting significant new vessel deliveries noted all of the offshore vessels and many inland boats had propulsion power exceeding 4,000 HP. For that reason, the commenter recommends increasing all current domestic credential HP breakpoints to better reflect the current fleet composition. The commenter recommends that the Coast Guard submit a paper to a future STCW meeting to increase the STCW limits from the current 1,000/4,000 HP breakpoints. More realistic breakpoints could be 4,000/10,000/20,000 HP. Alternatively, on a vessel with multiple identical main engines, regulators could count only the power level of a single engine as the required power limit on the engineer credential.

This comment is outside the scope of this rulemaking. The Coast Guard did not propose any new requirements in this area, and regulatory changes would require a separate rulemaking, including public notice and comment.

28. Designated Examiners (DE)

Six commenters agree with the new definition that restricts DEs to only evaluating the proficiency of any applicant for a towing-vessel endorsement. The commenter also believes that the current system of applying for recognition through the NMC is appropriate.

The Coast Guard agrees and will continue to approve the DEs for evaluation of applicants for towing endorsements.

Three commenters ask if the definition of “designated examiner” indicates that he or she could be approved by either the Coast Guard or a Coast Guard-accepted organization.

The definition in § 10.107(b) has been revised to reflect that the Coast Guard will continue to approve all DEs.

29. Equivalency

One commenter urges the Coast Guard to recognize the limited size and scope of towing vessel engine rooms and account for this by issuing safe manning certificates for towing vessels subject to STCW that allow an individual serving as officer in charge of an engineering watch or designated duty engineer in a periodically manned towing vessel engine room meeting the operational (STCW III/1) rather than management (STCW III/2) level training requirements to serve as chief engineer.

Pursuant to the STCW Convention, persons with chief engineer functions are required to meet Regulation III/2 or III/3 as appropriate. STCW does not provide for any exemptions from these requirements. If a DDE is the only engineer on the boat, then he is the de-facto chief engineer and must meet Regulation III/2 or III/3 of the STCW Convention. If he or she is an engineer in addition to another who is acting as the chief engineer, then he or she would only be required to meet Regulation III/1 of the STCW Convention.

One commenter requests that the Coast Guard allow OCMI's to exempt crew members, or at least members of the steward's department, on passenger vessels operating on very short-duration cruises inside completely protected bays and harbors from the requirement to obtain MMCs.

The same commenter requests that the Coast Guard designate San Francisco Bay and San Diego Harbor as “Rivers” when applying the MMC requirement.

This comment is outside the scope of this rulemaking. The Coast Guard did not propose any new requirements in this area, and regulatory changes would require a separate rulemaking, including public notice and comment.

30. Electro-Technical Officer (ETO)

One commenter recommends that an additional requirement to qualify for an endorsement as an ETO aboard an unlimited tonnage vessel (§ 11.335) should be an endorsement as an OICEW (engineers' license). Service as an ETO requires a thorough knowledge and operational experience of all shipboard engineering systems.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Qualification as an OICEW is not a prerequisite for an ETO endorsement under the STCW Convention. In addition, the Convention provides for other personnel without a marine engineering credential to qualify for this endorsement.

One commenter states that there is no clear education, training or certification requirement for ETO. The commenter states that the minimum requirement for an applicant should be that he or she hold a GMDSS maintainer license and be certified as CompTia A+ Network+ and Security+. There should also be a requirement that he or she is also certified in the repair and operation of Automatic Identification System, Long Range Identification and Tracking, Ship Security Alert System, Simplified Voyage Data Recorder Radar/Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) and all bridge electronics. The commenter also recommends that there should be a recertification requirement.

The Coast Guard partially agrees. Section 11.335 has been amended to include training requirements appropriate for an ETO. The Coast Guard disagrees that the GMDSS maintainer should be a pre-requisite for the ETO since the STCW Convention does not expressly require it. This final rule allows companies to add this requirement as an additional responsibility of an ETO.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard establish the following minimum knowledge for § 11.335, ETO and Electro-technical rating: Each applicant for an endorsement/license as an electro-technical officer/rating shall furnish evidence that he or she meets the standard of the GMDSS maintainers as required by the Coast Guard and having met the requirements for electro-technical officer/rating as outlined in STCW A-III/6 or A-III/7.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The GMDSS maintainer and ETO are separate endorsements that are now established in STCW. This final rule allows companies to add this requirement as an additional responsibility of an ETO.

One commenter asks, with regard to § 11.335:

(1) In what engine room capacity does the potential ETO have to serve?

(2) If proficiencies are demonstrated onboard a vessel, who signs the competencies?

(3) Does any new OICEW or greater endorsement qualify as ETO without additional training, service, or assessment?

(4) Is ETO to be a subsidiary duty of any OICEW or higher?

(5) Is this the intended outcome or is the ETO to be a specialized Electronics/Automation/Controls engineer?

The STCW Convention is not a manning document; therefore, the Coast Guard will not require that any vessel carry a mariner holding this ETO endorsement. However, anyone serving in the capacity of ETO must hold the endorsement. If proficiencies are demonstrated onboard a vessel, a qualified assessor would sign the competencies. Any new OICEW must meet the requirements of § 11.335 in order to qualify as an ETO. Any mariner who meets the ETO requirements in § 11.335 will be issued an ETO endorsement without regard to whether they also hold or qualify for a corresponding national endorsement or any other STCW endorsement.

31. Examinations

One commenter notes that § 11.201(j)(2) contains a recommendation that an applicant take the exam “as soon as possible,” even though the preamble of the SNPRM (76 FR 45939) states that the Coast Guard agreed with a comment that the advice is unnecessary and would be dropped. The commenter recommends deleting the statement.

The Coast Guard agrees, and § 11.201(j)(2) has been amended to delete this language and indicate only that the approval for examination is good for 1 year.

One commenter recommends that, in § 12.205, the Coast Guard add a consequence to the last sentence of (c), such as “or the application will be voided.”

The Coast Guard disagrees. The regulatory text is clear that the approval for examination is good for 1 year.

Two commenters note that § 11.201(j)(1)(iii) requires applicants (e.g., cadets) enrolled in a comprehensively approved program of training, service and assessment be authorized for the Coast Guard exam “not more than 3 months prior to the completion of the program provided all applicable sea service requirements are completed prior to the examination.” The commenters believe the 3-month period is more restrictive than the 6-month period previously allowed by the Coast Guard and recommended that the 6-month period be retained.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. The exams need to be completed soon before or after issuance of the credential to ensure that new officers have the knowledge prior to receipt of their officer endorsement. However, the Coast Guard recognizes that some training schools complete the training program ahead of time and the rest of the time is spent prepping for the exam. In order to facilitate the examination process while ensuring that the examinees have the knowledge for the exam, the Coast Guard has added an additional sentence to allow applicants to test earlier (a maximum of 6 months prior to the program end and graduation), provided they have completed all parts of the comprehensive program that pertain to maritime credentialing requirements.

One commenter states that, in Table 11.910-2, the examination topics should make reference and include specific knowledge, understanding and proficiencies required in the STCW tables in the applicable deck or engine license category.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. The exam subject tables in § 11.910 cover the general subjects and topics for each credential issued. Subjects, topics, and sub-topics related to STCW KUPs will be defined in guidance issued by the Coast Guard.

One commenter asks how the Coast Guard will approve simulators discussed in § 11.901(c).

The Coast Guard does not approve individual simulators. The Coast Guard approves courses that use simulators and, as part of the approval process, evaluates whether the simulator is suitable for the proposed training.

One commenter states that Tables 11.910-2, 11.930-2, and 12.950-2 do not include security training requirements.

Tables 11.910-2, 11.930-2, and 12.950-2 depict exam topics for endorsements requiring examinations. The security endorsements do not require examinations.

One commenter suggests that, if the tables of examination topics (§§ 11.910 and 11.950) were relocated to the “Examination Guide,” they could be more quickly updated as necessary. If strictly adhered to, these tables would provide essential direction to the testing mariner without compromising the integrity of the examination.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. The tables need to remain in the regulations until such time as the Coast Guard replaces them in regulation or issues guidance. The tables are necessary to provide the mariners with the topics for the exams. The Coast Guard will consider issuing a task to MERPAC to develop suitable information on exam topics.

The same commenter notes that, with regard to § 10.219(a), the current regulations used “Upper Level” to apply specifically to unlimited master any gross tons (AGT), near-coastal/oceans chief mate AGT near-coastal or oceans, second mate AGT near-coastal or oceans, third mate AGT near-coastal or oceans, chief, first, second, and third engineers without tonnage or route restrictions. But in the reference beneath this SNPRM table, “Upper Level” is defined as AGT or unlimited horsepower. Is the master inland AGT considered “unlimited” here for fee purposes? The new Deck Examination Guide relies on the old § 10.107 definitions, which included “Upper Level” as defined above and distinguishes two retesting procedures and two waiting periods for “Upper and Lower Levels.”

The same commenter also pointed out that “Upper Level” candidates who failed three sections of their examinations were required to retest on all sections. “Lower Level” candidates did not have to meet this threshold. “Upper Level” candidates had to wait 3 months before beginning a new exam cycle after having failed a previous go-round; “Lower Level” candidates had to wait only 2 months. Will the procedures of the Deck Examination Guide remain in place or will the testing procedures and waits change to one system for all candidates as described in § 10.219?

The Coast Guard has changed the testing procedures and waiting periods for both deck and engine “Upper and Lower” level examinations to one system for all candidates as detailed in § 11.217(a) of this final rule. The examination guide will be changed accordingly. Additionally, the Coast Guard has added a definition for “unlimited” in § 10.107.

The same commenter noted that § 11.418(b) should be changed to provide for a limited examination instead of a full examination.

The Coast Guard agrees, and provisions in the existing regulations calling for a limited examination remain unchanged. We will also retain the existing regulation specifying a limited examination in §§ 11.418(b), 11.429(a)(3), 11.446(b), 11.456(a)(3), and 11.467(f)(3).

One commenter requests a near-term update to the tables of examination subjects in part 11 to reflect the 1995 and 2010 STCW amendments. Of great importance, the commenter believes, is the accuracy of the list of examination subjects, which enables maritime educators to determine more precisely what must be included in training and education programs to ensure their students can adequately prepare for the Coast Guard's exam.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended the examination tables to include the general topics for the various examinations. The Coast Guard recognizes that additional information may be necessary to further develop these topics. The Coast Guard will consider issuing a task to MERPAC to develop suitable additional information on exam topics.

The same commenter asks, as an example, if a mariner has an STCW endorsement as chief mate on vessels of 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT or more, would the candidate, among other requirements, have to pass the chief mate unlimited near-coastal/ocean examination? And, having passed that examination, later on, would the candidate meet the service and tonnage requirements of the domestic chief mate any gross tons, and would he or she be required to take the unlimited master/chief examination again?

A mariner as described in this comment would not be required to retake examinations previously and successfully completed at a lower level.

32. Dynamic Positioning

One commenter expresses disappointment that the SNPRM does not include an endorsement for Dynamic Positioning Officers (DPO) under B-V/f of the STCW Code. Issuing this endorsement, even if not required by the COI on U.S. flag vessels, would highlight the unique training and experience of DPOs and set a standard among other STCW signatory nations. The commenter urges the Coast Guard to consider creating such an endorsement.

DP requirements are being addressed in a separate rulemaking. Additionally, § 15.520 has been amended to clarify the status of a MODU on DP.

33. Fast Rescue Boats

One commenter recommended that, since existing SOLAS and U.S. requirements mandate that the STCW competency of “Operate Fast Rescue Boat Engine” be accomplished at least once a month, the Coast Guard should add to the list of STCW competencies that it will accept as onboard training for the STCW competency “Operate Fast Rescue Boat Engine.”

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended § 12.617 to include operating the fast rescue boat engine as a competency that can be completed onboard vessels.

34. Deck Officer Requirements

Four commenters note that on page 45918 of the preamble the Coast Guard cites § 11.401 as “removing the requirement for deck officers to obtain a qualification as Able Seaman,” which “provides consistency with the STCW Convention.” Although the requirement is absent from STCW endorsements, it is still found in §§ 11.407(a)(1), 11.414(a)(2), 11.416(a), and 11.421(a), which are the prerequisite credentials to obtain STCW authority. Moreover, the prerequisite to hold A/B is also found in Great Lakes and Inland §§ 11.437, 11.444, and 11.448. The commenters recommend that the Coast Guard remove the prerequisite of holding an A/B endorsement from these sections.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended §§ 11.407(a)(1), 11.414(a)(2), 11.416(a), 11.421(a), 11.437(a)(1), 11.444(a)(1), and 11.448 to remove the requirement that applicants for these endorsements must hold an able seaman endorsement.

35. Ceremonial License

Six commenters acknowledge and thank the Coast Guard for recognizing the importance of a mariner's credential by creating the “ceremonial license.” The commenters added that this document demonstrates respect for the professionalism of the mariner and that a ceremonial license means a document that reflects a mariner's existing domestic officer endorsement and is suitable for framing, but is not valid for use as an MMC.

One commenter states that, although he appreciates the Coast Guard's willingness to make the ceremonial license available, it would be nice to recognize the issue number which is a source of pride to experienced mariners as well as a valuable tool for potential employers.

The Coast Guard appreciates the desirability of including an issue number on the ceremonial license. Because the MMC does not currently contain an issue number, though, the Coast Guard is unable to include such a number on the ceremonial license. The ceremonial license, however, would show the existing national officer or rating endorsement.

One commenter states that a ceremonial license would fill the gap left by the current passport format license. The commenter adds that passengers have come to expect to see the master's license publicly displayed onboard with all the other documents.

The Coast Guard agrees that passengers have come to expect to see the master's license publicly displayed onboard, and 46 U.S.C. 7110 requires the posting of the master's MMC. However, the ceremonial license “is not valid for use as a Merchant Mariner Credential” (see § 10.107), so its posting would not satisfy 46 U.S.C. 7110. The Coast Guard is unable to change this requirement without a revision of the statute.

36. Basic Training

Two commenters state that, in current §§ 11.301(b) and 11.301(c)(3), the onboard assessments for STCW elementary first aid are not equal for officers and ratings.

The Coast Guard did not propose onboard assessments for elementary first aid. The Coast Guard agrees that the requirements for officers and ratings should be the same and has revised those requirements accordingly. The requirements for BT, including elementary first aid, have been broken out into separate sections in §§ 11.302 and 12.602. The Coast Guard has changed the term “basic safety training” to “basic training” to be consistent with the STCW Convention.

One commenter expresses concern over the provision in § 11.201(h)(1) allowing mariners to demonstrate having maintained the standard of competence in basic and/or advanced firefighting and felt this posed an additional burden to inland mariners. The commenter recommends leaving in place acceptance of 1 year of sea service in the last 5 years as meeting the requirements for demonstrating competence in basic and advanced firefighting for domestic, inland credentials.

The Coast Guard disagrees. There are no firefighting maintenance or renewal requirements for national endorsements in § 11.201(h). The firefighting requirements in § 11.201(h) apply to the original issue of one of the specified officer endorsements. It does not apply to the renewal of an endorsement, or to a raise of grade from one of the enumerated endorsements. However, the Coast Guard has revised this section to add new provisions specifically stating that the firefighting requirement only applies to a raise of grade if the applicant had not previously met the requirement.

One commenter remarked that instructors in first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should be required to demonstrate their familiarity with the most recent techniques through certification by the American Heart Association and/or the American Red Cross.

The Coast Guard agrees that instructors must be familiar with the most current techniques, but does not feel a change is needed. When courses are approved or renewed, the Coast Guard evaluates the qualifications of instructors to ensure they are qualified to teach the course. In addition, continued professional competence of instructors should be addressed in the school's QSS, and will be subject to periodic audit by the Coast Guard.

Two commenters note that § 11.301(b)(3) allows for certain areas of basic safety training (BST) to be satisfied with onboard experience. However, § 12.601 does not list continued proficiency being granted for the same areas through onboard experience and drills.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has relocated the requirements for STCW ratings to accomplish BT to § 12.602. The new section accepts sea service as demonstrating continued proficiency in elementary first aid and personal safety and social responsibilities.

The same commenters state that first aid and CPR are dynamic, ever-changing courses. They express concern about how maritime personnel will be properly trained, while onboard ship, in the most current/updated procedure and by whom.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Because STCW does not require proof of continued competence in elementary first aid or personal safety and social responsibilities, we will accept onboard training and experience, through evidence of 1 year of sea service within the last 5 years as meeting the requirements for these portions of BT.

Two commenters state that, with regard to BST and advanced firefighting renewal requirements, it may be difficult to obtain shoreside assessment/competency as there are very few facilities that have the equipment for these training purposes.

The Coast Guard disagrees. This final rule implements the 2010 amendments, which are very explicit about which areas of the standard of competence can be accomplished onboard and which ones can be accomplished ashore. Initial BT and advanced firefighting training is accomplished ashore through Coast Guard approved courses that cover all aspects of knowledge, understanding and proficiency for all the competence areas. Consequently, we believe that there are sufficient courses with the equipment and teaching resources necessary to cover this training.

One commenter recommends that BST standards and requirements be expanded by the Coast Guard to include all fishing vessels, fish tender vessels, and certain vessels operating inside the boundary line.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The STCW Convention applies to mariners serving on seagoing vessels, except pleasure craft, fishing vessels, and vessels entitled to sovereign immunity, such as warships. Article II of the Convention defines a seagoing ship as a ship other than one that “navigates exclusively in inland waters or in waters within, or closely adjacent to, sheltered waters or areas where port regulations apply.” The provisions in this final rule which would implement amendments to the STCW Convention only apply to commercial vessels operating seaward of the boundary line, as specified in 46 CFR part 7. The Coast Guard does not intend, and is not required by STCW, to apply international standards to our domestic mariners in this regard. Furthermore, 46 U.S.C. 8105 prohibits the application of the STCW Convention to fishing vessels.

Two commenters ask what evidence must be produced by the vessel master to verify compliance with §§ 11.1105(c)(1) and 11.1105(c)(2), and whether all MMCs will now have an STCW endorsement for BST.

The proof of compliance will be on the MMC in the form of an endorsement. The Coast Guard will place an endorsement for basic training, formerly known as BST, on the MMC.

One commenter challenges the concept, as outlined in §§ 11.301(b)(3) and 12.601(b)(3), that time served aboard a vessel can in and of itself constitute an ongoing demonstration of competency with regard to the emergency response skills required by Table A-VI/1 of the STCW Code.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention, specifically Section A-VI/1, paragraph 4, are very explicit about which areas of the standard of competence can be accomplished through training and experience onboard and which ones must be accomplished ashore. The allowance in the Convention to demonstrate competence onboard a vessel does not exempt mariners with vessel service from the requirement to demonstrate that they have maintained the standards of competency through onboard training and drills.

The same commenter adds that, depending on their muster-list assignments, many mariners on vessels that are running realistic drills may never have the opportunity to perform certain emergency duties or demonstrate competence performing them, such as boarding a survival craft from the ship while wearing a lifejacket. If a mariner's sea time is served wholly aboard a vessel whose survival craft are inflatable liferafts, and the vessel does not launch and inflate a liferaft, how can it be said that individual has demonstrated the ability to board their survival craft from the ship?

The Coast Guard has addressed this issue in § 12.615. Seafarers holding an STCW endorsements for OICNW, OICEW, and able seafarer-deck are required to meet the requirements for proficiency in survival craft and rescue boats other than fast rescue boats, or proficiency in survival craft and rescue boats other than lifeboats and fast rescue boats. These requirements are consistent with the STCW 2010 amendments.

Five commenters state that the proposed regulations pertaining to requirements for STCW officer and STCW rating endorsements in §§ 11.301, 12.601, 12.615, and 12.617, respectively, are a change from current Coast Guard policy that recognizes at least 1 year of sea service in the last 5 years as meeting the BST, advanced firefighting, survival craft and fast rescue boat proficiency standards. The commenter believes that this is an unnecessary and unwieldy change to the policy, and will significantly impact mariners who will be required to attend a shore-side school to complete these assessments when no other shore side assessment option is available. The STCW Convention does not allow all assessments to be conducted onboard. Therefore, the administration can only choose to accept onboard assessment for those permitted by the Convention.

The Coast Guard disagrees. We have not changed the requirement for mariners to provide evidence of continued professional competence in BT, advanced firefighting, survival craft, and fast rescue boat through 1 year of sea service within the last 5 years. Further, the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention require that seafarers provide evidence of continued professional competence in those areas every 5 years. However, the new amendments also identify those areas from the standard of competence that must be assessed ashore. Implementation of shore-based training and assessment is required by the 2010 amendments and is not discretionary.

One commenter believes that § 11.301 is confusing as written because the commenter is unable to determine if mariners are required to retake the advanced firefighting and personal survival courses every 5 years, or if shipboard drills, training and sea service will be sufficient to establish continued professional competence. In the commenter's view, the proficiency in these two areas can be maintained on the vessel through specific drills, training and testing aboard vessels.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. The 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention require that seafarers provide evidence of continued professional competence in BT every 5 years. Continued professional competence may be achieved through a combination of ashore assessments, and onboard drills and training. Furthermore, the new amendments identify those areas from the standard of competence that can be maintained while sailing onboard vessels through drills and onboard training, and those areas that must be assessed ashore. If a mariner cannot complete competencies onboard, then he or she will have to re-take the original courses, or refresher courses, as applicable. The Coast Guard has added new sections on this subject in §§ 11.302(e), 11.303(e), and 12.602(e). As the same issue would also apply to proficiency in survival craft and fast rescue boats, we have also added new §§ 12.613(b)(4), 12.615(b)(4), and 12.617(b)(4).

Three commenters expressed concern that the Coast Guard will be unable to track sea service dates that have a bearing on whether a mariner will meet certain re-qualifying requirements. More specifically, the commenters point out that § 12.601(c) states that mariners may provide evidence of 1 year of sea service within the last 5 years, as meeting the requirement for BT. The commenters feel that implementation of the new regulations will put a huge burden on the NMC that will require rigorous evaluator training and strict oversight.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The Coast Guard will track BT and will keep course completion certificates and sea service records needed to support issuance of the endorsement. A BT endorsement will be issued where the expiration will coincide with the expiration date of the MMC. The Coast Guard intends to implement the BT continued professional competence requirements by: (1) requiring the course completion certificate as proof that the mariner demonstrated the areas that must be refreshed ashore; and (2) requiring 1 year of sea service in the last 5 years as proof that the seafarer demonstrated the topics that can be demonstrated onboard the vessel.

37. MMC return

Three commenters question the requirement in § 10.209(g) that mariners must return all previously issued MMCs when a new MMC is issued.

This is an existing requirement in § 10.227(d)(4). The MMC is used as a mariner identification document and a previously issued MMC will need to be returned if it is still valid when a new MMC is issued. Computer verification is not always used and the potential misuse for the credential warrants returning valid credentials to the Coast Guard. We agree, however, that there is no need to return an expired credential and the text has been changed to reflect that.

38. Renewal requirements

Two commenters recommend that the term “Qualified Instructor,” as defined in § 10.107, be included in §§ 10.227(e)(1)(iv) and 10.232(f) to ensure that maritime academy instructors will be considered as meeting the “closely related service” professional standard for renewal of an MMC.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has amended §§ 10.227(e)(1)(iv) and 10.232(g) to include qualified instructors.

One commenter states that the required 360 days of sea service in the last 5 years to renew/upgrade a license is excessive.

The Coast Guard disagrees. With regard to STCW endorsements, the service requirements are as specified in the STCW Convention and the Coast Guard does not have discretion to modify them.

39. Safety and Suitability

One commenter recommends that Coast Guard consider amending §§ 10.225 and 11.201 to permit maritime academies or other institutions that submit applications on behalf of a cadet or mariner, to inform the Coast Guard, when necessary, of an applicant's “character and habits of life”, which may not be revealed by Coast Guard or Transportation Security Administration (TSA) background checks alone. Another commenter recommends that the Coast Guard add text allowing authorized vessel officers and company representatives to submit applications on behalf of applicants and be allowed to inform the Coast Guard, when necessary, of an applicant's “character and habits of life” that may not be revealed by Coast Guard or TSA background checks.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The focus on criminal convictions in §§ 10.225 and 11.201 is important because the mariner has been provided significant constitutional protections in criminal trials, the facts of a particular incident have been fully investigated, and matters of contention have been fully adjudicated. Input from the mariner's educational institution or mariner's employers, while potentially valuable, may be problematic. The Coast Guard does not have the resources or the authority to investigate and adjudicate contested matters that occur at an Academy. The benefit of this information is outweighed by the possibility of abuse and privacy concerns. Information on convictions is readily available and already fully documented.

Academies are free to report violations of law of which they are aware to the appropriate enforcement authorities at the time of the offense. Furthermore, matters that are significant enough to warrant denying a credential also probably involve violations of institutional codes of conduct, which are probably more properly dealt with by the institution's disciplinary system.

Additionally, marine employers are required to report violations of law of which they are aware to the appropriate enforcement authorities at the time of the offense. For certain vessels, the official logbook would provide sufficient documentation and a legal method for reporting the items in 46 U.S.C. 11301. Matters significant enough to prevent issuance of a credential probably warrant referral to the Coast Guard for action under 46 CFR part 5.

40. Sea Service

Two commenters thanked the Coast Guard for reconsidering the issue of Great Lakes and inland sea service credit.

One commenter wants to confirm the change in § 11.402(a)(1) from the previous requirement that all service be on vessels of more than 200 GRT (§ 11.402(a)) to all service must be on vessels of 100 GRT or more.

Yes, the Coast Guard has made this change, accepting that many vessels of 100 GRT have characteristics that can be applied towards the unlimited tonnage vessel without endangering safety. Additionally, the requirement that half of the experience be gained on vessels of 1,600 GRT or more ensures that mariners will have sufficient experience for these credentials.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard amend § 10.232(f) to allow closely related service to be applied to the raise-of-grade to original management-level endorsements in the manner of the existing rule. In addition, this closely related service should be accepted as meeting the requirements for “recency” when applying for renewal or raise-of-grade.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The regulations already allow using this credit toward raise-of-grade. Such service would be inappropriate to grant an original management-level endorsement. Closely related service does not adequately prepare mariners to demonstrate the competencies required for a management level endorsement. Additionally, § 11.201(c) requires recent qualifying service on vessels.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard amend § 10.232(a)(1) by adding “pilot association letter of attestation” to the list of acceptable forms to document sea service. In addition, the commenter suggests § 10.232(a)(2) be amended by inserting “, as practicable,” between the words “must” and “contain.” This latter change will allow for the reality that for full-time independent professional compulsory pilots, it is not necessary or practicable to include the precise number of vessels piloted and the specific vessel information for the hundreds of ships that may have been piloted during a particular reporting period.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. We recognize the burden placed on pilots and pilot associations to document pilotage sea service pursuant to § 10.232. The Coast Guard has amended § 10.232 to accept pilot association letters of attestation for renewals. However, the Coast Guard is unable to accept the same letter for original officer endorsements or raises in grade as there is not sufficient information with regard to the vessel tonnage, horsepower or propulsion mode. Without the specific vessel information, it is difficult to determine whether a pilot meets the specific requirements for credential transactions other than renewal.

Two commenters request that instructors who teach Coast Guard-approved courses be able to self-certify on those courses that they teach when those courses are required for license renewal.

The Coast Guard agrees and has added § 10.227(e)(1)(v) to recognize that qualified instructors who have taught a course, accepted or approved by the Coast Guard, at least twice within the past 5 years have met the standards needed to receive a course completion certificate for that course.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard delete § 11.407(b). The Great Lakes Maritime Academy intends to request a change to their approval letter to request their training programs be approved for oceans and/or near-coastal licenses based on sea service obtained on the Great Lakes.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. The Coast Guard has amended § 11.407(b) to provide for an endorsement to be issued depending on the program completed. The distinction between the near-coastal and oceans programs at the Great Lakes Maritime Academy is based on several differences in route, assessment, and examination. The change is consistent with the revisions in § 11.401 for oceans and near-coastal endorsements.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard amend § 10.232(g) by adding a paragraph (5) that says: “On academy training ships where sea service is part of an approved training program, a day may be creditable as 11/2days of service.” The commenter believes this is in keeping with the Coast Guard's existing practice of crediting academy training ship sea service as reported to IMO.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has revised this section accordingly. We have also made a similar revision to the definition of “day” in § 10.107.

Fourteen commenters recommend that § 11.211 have language that allows service on inspected Ro/Ro passenger vessels to be credited day-for-day for STCW endorsement, regardless of route. This is justified, the commenters believe, by the fact that § 11.1005 requires that masters, chief engineers, mates, and engineers are required to have STCW endorsements. If required to carry the endorsement, the commenters believe credit should be given to those officers and ratings who work on inspected Ro/Ro passenger vessels.

The Coast Guard agrees. Persons serving on vessels to which STCW applies will be credited day for day sea service credit, and § 10.232 has been amended accordingly.

One commenter notes that § 11.412(a) requires any seafarer who desires to upgrade to master 1,600 GRT to sail for 2 years aboard a towing vessel. The commenter believes this is an unreasonable requirement, since many seafarers will never sail aboard a towing vessel. For those who will, the requirement elsewhere to gain a TOAR will suffice to provide the necessary training and experience for towing. A similar requirement is contained in § 11.414 for those desiring to get a mate 1,600 GRT endorsement (1 year on towing vessels required).

The Coast Guard agrees that towing vessels are not the only way to earn sea service credit, and has amended §§ 11.412 and 11.414. Mariners may upgrade to master on vessels of less than 1,600 GRT with service in a licensed position on any number of vessels, including, but not limited to, towing vessels.

One commenter notes that § 11.412(a) requires 4 years total service to upgrade from mate 1,600 GRT to master 1,600 GRT. The commenter also notes that § 11.418(a)(1) requires 3 years total service to upgrade from mate 500 tons to master 500 tons. Over the past year, the commenter notes, there have been several successful appeals of this requirement, and several clarifying letters from the Coast that have effectively changed this requirement. The commenter believes this would seem to be the right time to correct this requirement in the CFR so as to prevent further confusion on this issue for the future.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has amended §§ 11.412 and 11.418 accordingly.

Two commenters recommend that the Coast Guard remove §§ 10.232(b)(1) and 10.232(b)(2), which specify the credit allowed for service on the Great Lakes and other inland navigable waters, as they have no useful purpose whatsoever and only serve to make professional advancement more difficult, thereby decreasing the availability of mariners for service on ocean-going ships.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Service on Great Lakes and inland waters was not previously permitted to count toward an STCW endorsement. Inclusion of these sections will actually increase the availability of mariners for service on ocean-going vessels.

One commenter states that, with regard to § 12.605(a)(2)(i), leaving the proposed section as “six months of seagoing service” is overburdening the mariner for a simple bridge lookout/helmsman position. The commenter believes a minimum number of watches should be specified.

The Coast Guard disagrees. This requirement is clearly specified in Regulation II/4.2.2.1 of the STCW Convention.

One commenter suggests that the term “full mission simulator” be deleted from the proposed regulations as there are other simulation software that can be used that do not meet the requirements of a “full mission” simulator.

The Coast Guard agrees that a full mission simulator is not required for all required training and assessment, but notes that we did not use this term in the proposed rule, or in this final rule. As used throughout this final rule, a simulator does not need be a full mission simulator, it need only be capable of supporting the training and assessment objectives for its proposed use.

Two commenters do not support the proposal in § 10.232, which states that, “service on inland waters, other than Great Lakes, that are navigable waters of the United States, may be substituted for up to 50 percent of the total required service toward an oceans, near-coastal, or STCW endorsement.” The commenters believe there are insufficient similarities in experience between inland and ocean service to justify crediting inland time toward full ocean service requirements. An exception, the commenter believes, should provide that inland service be credited for a limited STCW endorsement for “service on vessels of any gross tons upon the sheltered waters of British Columbia as defined in the treaty between the United States and Canada signed 11 August 1934.”

The Coast Guard disagrees. The STCW defines seagoing service as “service onboard a ship relevant to the issue or revalidation of a certificate or other qualification.” The Coast Guard recognizes that some “relevant” experience can be gained on inland vessels creditable toward an STCW document. Accordingly, the Coast Guard is allowing day-for-day credit for inland service for up to 50 percent of the total required service. The credit of service is justified because many of the inland navigable waters of the United States are of such length and/or breadth that they have the characteristics of ocean or near-coastal waters.

One commenter requests that, with regard to § 11.211(b)(2), which sets out service requirements for national and STCW officer endorsements, consideration be given for service on inland vessels of 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT and 4,000 HP that have equivalent equipment to ocean vessels. The commenter recommends that credit be given on a day-by-day basis for engine (OICEW) and engine ratings endorsements.

Another commenter also requests the same change with regard to § 11.301(d)(3), which sets out requirements for STCW officer endorsements. The commenter suggests consideration be given for service on inland vessels of 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT and 4,000 HP that have equivalent equipment to ocean vessels. The commenter requests that credit be given on a day-by-day basis for engine (OICEW) and engine ratings endorsements.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. Section 11.301(d)(3), which has been re-numbered as § 11.301(b)(3), has been revised to provide day-for-day credit for service on inland waters. Although there are sufficient common skills and experience to justify allowing credit for service on inland waters, the differences between inland waters and ocean service prevent allowing use of this credit to meet 100 percent of the sea service requirement. Therefore, both § 11.211(b)(2) and § 11.301(b)(3) allow credit for inland service to be credited on a day-for-day basis for up to 50 percent of the total required service.

One commenter recommends that, with regard to § 11.329, the proposed reduction in the requirements to obtain endorsement as an OICEW be eliminated. Reducing the requirement to a mere 12 months of a combination of sea service and approved training program, the commenter believes, will not produce the quality of marine engineer that the U.S. is accustomed to.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The requirement is that the applicant must complete an approved training program. That program must include a combination of workshop skills and seagoing service of not less than 12 months. Furthermore, the training program must satisfy the standards of competence in Section A-III/1 of the STCW Code, which typically takes 3 years. The requirements mirror those for the officer endorsement of third assistant engineer which requires either 3 years of service, or completion of an approved program.

Three commenters state that historically, almost all sea service has been creditable on a day-for-day basis for upgrading a mariner's credentials. In recent years, the commenters believe licensing for chief engineers became subject to geographic restrictions, although no reason was provided for this. Even once this practice was in place, however, most sea time was still creditable on a day-for-day basis for 100 percent of the required time. The commenters believe the proposed language in § 10.232(b) would reduce the creditable sea service to 50 percent of what's actually earned and then limit it to a maximum of 50 percent of the required time. The commenters believe the existing sea-service applicability should remain as it currently stands.

The Coast Guard partially agrees. Section 10.232(b) allows mariners serving onboard vessels operating on inland waters or the Great Lakes to receive credit towards an oceans or STCW endorsement. It was not the Coast Guard's intent to reduce the creditable sea service for national credentials. In fact, this provision permits broader application of Great Lakes and Inland service towards both STCW and national ocean endorsements than is allowed under current regulations. To avoid confusion, the Coast Guard has also added a new paragraph § 10.232(c) that would ensure day-for-day credit for 100 percent of the required time when applying for Great Lakes or inland credentials. We have also re-designated existing paragraphs (c) through (h) as new paragraphs (d) through (i).

Eighteen commenters support proposed section § 11.211 “Creditable service and equivalents for domestic and STCW officer endorsements” as it will recognize time served on inland voyages for the issuance of STCW officer endorsements. However, the commenters are disappointed that inland service is to be substituted for only up to 50 percent of the total required service. They recommend that the proposed language be amended so that inland time is credited on a day-for-day basis, as is service on the Great Lakes.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Although there are sufficient common skills and experience involved in service on inland waters and oceans to justify allowing credit for service on inland waters, the differences between inland waters and ocean service prevent allowing use of this credit to meet 100 percent of the service requirement for near-coastal, oceans, or STCW endorsements.

One commenter believes that the military/government service option is a step in the right direction to encourage an experienced but un-certificated mariner to bring their experience to the merchant fleet. However, without a specific statement granting STCW support-level service credit for watchstanding petty officers, operational-level service credit for service as an underway officer on duty or engineer on watch, and management-level service credit for service as commanding officer/executive officer/engine officer, the intended benefit will be minimized or non-existent. The commenters also believe it is likely §§ 11.301(f) and 11.305(a)(1) would block any applicant from getting an STCW endorsement at the management level directly following service in a management-level billet on a military/government vessel, despite table 11.305(d) creating this path. Perhaps additional elaboration in the final regulation on the intended interaction of §§ 11.301 and 11.305 for military/government mariners would be helpful to allow and clarify the full benefit intended.

The Coast Guard will provide additional guidance in the future to address how to implement assessments for STCW endorsements, including guidance for those in military or government service. Such guidance will address the methods by which a military/government seafarer may demonstrate satisfaction of service requirements, as well as the military/government assessments and training that may be accepted towards the credentials being sought.

One commenter believes that § 10.232(d) is a large step backward and will discourage mariners from beginning service or remaining on military or public vessels, and that the section is even more restrictive and inequitable than the current NMC Policy Letter 09-01 addressing these atypical vessels. The proposed regulations, the commenter believes, treat mariners on a MODU, on a liftboat, or a shoreside port captain significantly differently, while all are “atypical” service. The commenter recommends that § 10.232(d) specifically state that it does not apply to liftboats when operating in the elevated mode. If this proposal is not acceptable, the commenter thinks at least the 180-day service cap should be removed.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. This requirement is not a change from current requirements and sea service limits. The Coast Guard will conduct an evaluation of vessel operations and determine whether additional credit should be allowed; however, the Coast Guard still firmly believes that a mariner must have experience operating a vessel in order to obtain an original endorsement or a raise in grade.

One commenter is concerned with the provisions of § 10.232 regarding the crediting of sea service on vessels that may spend a significant amount of their time moored. Oil Spill Response Vessels (OSRVs) and their crews are in a constant state of readiness to respond. The commenter recommends that NMC Policy Letter 09-01 be reviewed with a view towards enhancement and then adopted in this final rule for sea time credit for personnel serving aboard OSRVs to recognize the important service of these mariners.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. This requirement is not a change from § 10.232 and current sea service limits. The Coast Guard will conduct an evaluation of vessel operations and determine whether additional credit should be allowed; however, the Coast Guard still firmly believes that a mariner must have experience operating a vessel in order to obtain an original endorsement or a raise in grade. Where the Coast Guard conducts an evaluation of vessel operations and determines a need for change, NMC Policy Letter 09-01, or its successor, will be revised.

Six commenters, with regard to § 10.232, believe that mariners on vessels of less than 100 GRT should be credited 11/2days if working a 12-hour watch schedule. The size of the vessel does not reduce the experience gained. Although they appreciate the Coast Guard acknowledging and crediting the experience gained for service on the Great Lakes, they still feel service on inland waters should count day-for-day as well. Navigating on inland waters requires just as much and in some instances much more navigating, piloting, training and drilling than service on oceans and the Great Lakes.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The definition of “day” provides that vessels allowed to work 12-hour days, as defined in the U.S. Code, will receive 11/2days sea service credit. However, changes to regulations on this subject are limited by statutory restrictions on the type and tonnage of vessels and the number of watches that may be run. Further, although there are sufficient common skills and experience to justify allowing credit for service on inland waters, the differences between inland waters and ocean service prevent allowing use of this credit to meet 100 percent of the service requirements for near-coastal, oceans, or STCW endorsements.

One commenter notes that under domestic regulations, the time required to obtain a near-coastal mate on vessels of less than 200 GRT/500 GT is and has always been 1 year. No change is proposed to this requirement. Under STCW, however, the same license for international voyages would require an endorsement as OICNW, which would require 3 years of total time, and a further 2 years to obtain the endorsement. These voyages have been made safely and successfully for many years. Quintupling the time required to obtain a small-tonnage near-coastal mate's license will effectively eliminate foreign voyages of any kind for our vessels, resulting in substantial restraint of trade.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The time required to obtain a small-tonnage near-coastal mate's license has not increased by 4 years. The minimum service required to qualify an applicant for an endorsement as mate of ocean self-propelled vessels of less than 200 GRT (§ 11.427) is 12 months of total service in the deck department of ocean or near-coastal self-propelled, sail, or auxiliary sail vessels. The minimum service required to qualify an applicant for an endorsement as mate of near-coastal self-propelled vessels of less than 500 GRT (§ 11.421) is 2 years of total service in the deck department of ocean or near-coastal self-propelled, sail, or auxiliary sail vessels. A mariner holding an oceans or near-coastal mate less than 200 GRT would need to complete the following additional service to obtain an appropriate STCW endorsement: (1) Twelve months under the authority of the endorsement, in order to obtain an OICNW endorsement for vessels less than 200 GRT/500 GT; and (2) six months under the authority of the endorsement, in order to obtain an OICNW endorsement for vessels less than 200 GRT/500 GT limited to near-coastal waters. These entry paths from mate of oceans or near-coastal to STCW endorsements as OICNW of vessels less than 200 GRT/500 GT are provided in table 1 of 11.319(d) for ocean waters and table 1 of 11.321(d) for near-coastal waters.

Five commenters object to the Coast Guard proposing to grant 3-for-1 sea service credit for liftboats when they are elevated, but the mariner on a supply boat gets 1-for-1 while the boat is dockside, at anchor or moored to a structure. The commenters note that mariners work under our COIs at all times, when elevated or not, and recommends day-for-day credit at all times on a liftboat.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. This requirement is not a change from current requirements in § 10.232 and sea service limits. The Coast Guard will conduct an evaluation of vessel operations and determine whether additional credit should be allowed or sea service limits should be reduced. However, the Coast Guard still firmly believes that a mariner must have experience operating a vessel in order to obtain an original endorsement or a raise in grade.

One commenter is concerned that, with the proposal to grant 3-for-1 sea service credit for liftboats when they are elevated, mariners will not be able to renew their 1,600 GRT oceans license.

The Coast Guard appreciates the commenter's concerns, and notes that § 10.227(e)(1) of this final rule provides alternatives for mariners without sufficient or recent sea service to renew their credentials.

One commenter notes that § 12.403 for A/B-unlimited requires that all sea service be obtained on ocean waters. The commenter recommends that this should be modified to allow ocean or near-coastal service to be acceptable.

The Coast Guard agrees, but a change is unnecessary. The definition for “ocean” in § 10.107 includes near-coastal waters, so this service would be acceptable towards an A/B endorsement.

One commenter suggested that the Coast Guard move the boundary line closer to the coast of portions of Alaska and Washington state to enable mariners to earn sea service creditable towards an STCW endorsement on voyages seaward of the new boundary line.

The Coast Guard cannot include such a provision in this final rule because moving boundary lines is not within the scope of this rulemaking, and changes in this area would require a separate rulemaking. Additionally, boundary lines affect the application of several statutes and regulations beyond those in this final rule, including those governing the inspection of seagoing barges and vessels. However, the Coast Guard has amended § 10.232 so that persons serving on vessels to which STCW applies will be credited day-for-day sea service credit.

41. STCW Officer Endorsements

One commenter notes that § 11.301 does not clearly state that a mariner cannot apply for any STCW officer endorsement without holding a “domestic” endorsement. The commenter recommends that the requirement be included, possibly as a blanket statement in this section or within each of the sections for STCW endorsements.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has amended § 11.201 to require that a national endorsement must be held that corresponds to the STCW endorsement being sought.

42. Tankerman

Six commenters state that mariners who hold an endorsement as tankerman-PIC (barge) should be allowed to qualify for an STCW endorsement for advanced oil and/or chemical tanker operations.

Additionally, four commenters noted that § 15.860 should be revised to allow mariners who hold domestic tankerman-PIC (barge) endorsements to serve on tank barges.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has revised § 15.860 accordingly. Personnel on non-tank vessels towing a barge will be required to meet the STCW requirements. For this reason, we provided a means in §§ 13.603, 13.605, and 13.607 for mariners serving on tank barges to qualify for an STCW endorsement with a limitation to non-self-propelled vessels.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard amend § 13.107(d) by removing “including the loading of fuel oil” because, as the section currently reads, it implies that a tankerman-engineer endorsement is needed for bunkering.

The Coast Guard agrees with the comment and has amended § 13.107(d) to ensure that it is not read to apply to the transfer of anything other than bulk liquid cargoes and that a tankerman endorsement is not needed for bunkering.

One commenter notes that the STCW treats advanced oil and chemical tanker operations as separate endorsements, and recommended that the Coast Guard do the same, while another commenter recommended that these should be combined into a single endorsement for both cargoes.

The Coast Guard agrees with the first commenter, and has separated qualification requirements for oil tankers and for chemical tankers into two sections, §§ 13.603 and 13.605, consistent with the STCW. Nevertheless, it is possible for a single “cargo course” to be acceptable for both endorsements, and if the vessel the mariner serves on is certified to carry both oil and chemical cargoes, the mariner will be permitted under this final rule to use the same service to qualify for both endorsements.

One commenter notes that it should be possible to renew tankerman endorsements via in-service experience.

The Coast Guard agrees. Section 13.120 allows for the renewal of national tankerman endorsements with in-service experience and cargo transfers, or completion of an approved course. In addition, for STCW tankerman endorsements, the STCW Code allows for the use of in-service experience to renew the credential.

Two commenters state that the service requirements for STCW endorsements for advanced oil and/or chemical tanker operations should be specifically stated.

The Coast Guard agrees and has added the specific service requirements for these endorsements in §§ 13.603 and 13.605.

One commenter states that there should be reduced requirements for mariners who hold STCW tanker operations endorsements for one cargo (oil, chemical, or liquefied gases) to “crossover” to an endorsement for another cargo.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. Therefore, we are retaining the existing regulations in part 13, subpart F for a “crossover” for a national tankerman endorsement. The STCW does not provide for such a crossover, and mariners must meet the full service requirements applicable to each cargo.

The same commenter recommends that a mariner should be able to qualify for an STCW endorsement for advanced oil and/or chemical tanker operations via a 28-day approved training program.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. Because the STCW Code allows for the use of a 30-day training program, we amended §§ 13.603 and 13.605 of this final rule to permit an approved training program as an alternative means to qualify for these endorsements. However, to be consistent with the requirements of STCW and the definition of “month” in § 10.107, the approved program must be at least 30 days. A similar provision applicable to liquefied gas tankers has been added to § 13.607.

Two commenters note that engineers serving on tank vessels who hold or qualify for a tankerman-engineer endorsement should be allowed to qualify for an STCW endorsement for advanced oil and/or chemical tanker operations without having to meet the requirements for tankerman-PIC.

The Coast Guard agrees. The STCW Convention requires that engineers onboard tank vessels to which STCW applies hold a tankerman endorsement. Therefore, part 13, subpart F of this final rule has provided a means for engineers to qualify for an STCW endorsement with a limitation to maintenance and repair of cargo equipment.

Two commenters note that mariners should qualify for tankerman endorsements with a combination of sea service, shipboard experience, and classroom training.

The Coast Guard agrees and has provided, in part 13, for qualification for endorsements with a combination of training, sea service, and practical experience aboard tank vessels.

43. Tonnage Limitations

Two commenters do not agree with the placement of a tonnage limitation in § 11.437(a)(3). If the Coast Guard closes this avenue, towing vessel operators can never reach the unlimited tonnage licenses without leaving the pilothouse and working as an A/B.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Mariners must have appropriate experience on vessels of appropriate tonnage for the credential being sought, including those for vessels of more than 1,600 GRT. The tonnage provisions in § 11.437 have existed for many years, and the Coast Guard has not proposed to change them. The regulations also provide a path for a mariner receiving a tonnage limitation to remove such a limitation.

One commenter asks the Coast Guard to address what tonnage limitations will be placed on officers with domestic credentials limited to vessels of not more than 500 GRT or 1,600 GRT when they use the paths enabling them to cross over to STCW endorsements. The crossover tables link the national endorsements with the STCW endorsements. Therefore, the commenter believes, any limitation for national should correspond to the appropriate STCW limitation.

The Coast Guard agrees, and limitations on the national endorsement correspond to the appropriate STCW limitation, as shown in the crossover tables.

Two commenters note that a domestic 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT master (§ 11.412) is not listed as qualifying for OICNW on vessels of less than 200 GRT/500 GT. Implicit in STCW is the recognition that you are qualified to serve both in your highest rated capacity and in lower-level positions. The commenters believe this must be reflected in the domestic rules and that requiring time above 200 GRT/500 GT for STCW advancement for master and chief mate more than 200 GRT/500 GT and less than 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT is incongruent with the recognition elsewhere in the SNPRM that tonnage should be relative to the size of license being sought. The commenters believe that this tonnage requirement should be reduced to more than 50 GRT.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. The Coast Guard has removed the specific tonnage requirement from §§ 11.311 and 11.313, and added the requirement for an applicant to hold an appropriate national officer endorsement. As a result, the service requirements for master 1,600 GRT should be adequate to obtain the STCW endorsement as master less than 3,000 GT. The Coast Guard did not include the master endorsement in table 1 of 11.321(d) because that endorsement is associated with the corresponding STCW endorsement for master on vessels of 500 GT or more and less than 3,000 GT instead of the STCW endorsement for OICNW on vessels of less than 500 GT.

The same commenters believe that tonnage requirements for respective licenses should also be brought into parity such that someone who has acquired all of their time on a vessel of more than 100 GRT for a domestic unlimited ocean license according to proposed § 11.402(a)(1) is not rejected because they do not have time on vessels of more than 200 GRT/500 GT required for the STCW endorsement under § 11.305.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. Service acquired to obtain the national endorsement will be credited towards the STCW endorsement. If specific service is required, it will be specified in the associated transition tables found in part 11, subpart C. Should a mariner fail to have sufficient tonnage and receive a tonnage limitation on their domestic endorsement, that same limitation will be placed on the STCW endorsement.

One commenter notes that, in the past, Coast Guard licenses have been designated as “not more than.” For example, a mariner currently holds a master on steam or motor vessels of not more than 1,600 GRT. However, the STCW and domestic endorsements will now describe the tonnages on the approximate credentials as master on vessels of 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT or more (STCW) and master of ocean or near-coastal vessels of less than 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT (domestic). Where does the current master 1,600 oceans near-coastal fit? Given the floating one ton, is this mariner considered to hold both the STCW for vessels 1,600 GRT or more and the domestic for vessels 1,600 GRT or more, one but not the other, or neither?

The Coast Guard changed domestic endorsements from “not more than” to “less than” to better align the national endorsements with the STCW endorsements. This will reduce the likelihood that a mariner could hold a national endorsement and an STCW endorsement and still not be able to operate the vessel due to the `floating ton'. In addition, we have included manning requirements to show both national and STCW provisions required to sail onboard.

The same commenter notes that § 11.414(a)(2) requires 3 years of service in the deck department on ocean or near-coastal voyages on vessels greater than 200 GRT/500 GT. This was modified from the original NPRM, which changed the requirement to service on vessels greater than 100 GRT. The commenter recommends that the Coast Guard revert back to what was in the NPRM and this service should be required only on vessels greater than 100 GRT.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has amended § 11.414 (a)(2) to use the current 100 GRT tonnage limit, which is consistent with § 11.402.

44. Fees

Twenty-seven mariners object to the proposed requirement in § 10.219(d) that fee payments for MMCs and associated endorsements must be made by credit card or by electronic payment. They claim that it would be a hardship on mariners as they do not always have these means of payment available to them.

The Coast Guard agrees and is withdrawing this proposed revision. The verbiage in the current section will be retained allowing for multiple forms of payment.

45. Post-Dating MMCs

Eighteen commenters support the proposal in § 10.205 to allow the post-dating of MMCs. The commenters add that this is a much-needed step in ensuring that a mariner receives the full 5 years on an MMC for which the mariner has paid. Fourteen of these commenters requested that the Coast Guard go further and adjust the proposed language to ensure that the post-dating is automatically completed by the Coast Guard for every renewal.

The Coast Guard agrees with post-dating credential renewals with the option for a mariner to choose immediate issuance. The credentials will be post-dated to align with the expiration of the existing credential. The Coast Guard has amended § 10.205(a) to require automatic post-dating with the option for immediate issuance.

46. Wages

Two commenters object to the proposed language in § 14.309(a)(4), which would allow the master or individual responsible for paying the mariner his wages at the conclusion of a voyage to forego the payment of wages due and instead issue a statement of when the wages due will be paid or deposited. The commenters continue by stating that the requirement for payment of wages due at the end of a voyage upon which shipping articles are required has been in place for many years. It recognizes the fact that the voyage may have been of significant duration and ensures that the interests of the mariner are represented in the area of timely compensation for work already provided.

The Coast Guard agrees, and the current § 14.309(a)(4) and (b) remain unchanged.

47. Advanced Firefighting

One commenter objects to the Coast Guard's requirement in proposed § 11.201(c)(4) that a mariner must show evidence of maintaining the standard of competence in advanced firefighting by completing certain assessments ashore.

The Coast Guard disagrees that all knowledge, understanding, and proficiency under the competence “control firefighting operations aboard ships” should be done onboard vessels. The 2010 amendments are very explicit on the areas of the standard of competence that can be accomplished onboard and those that can be accomplished ashore.

One commenter asks the Coast Guard to clarify the nature of the “evidence” mariners are required to provide in proposed § 11.201(h)(1).

Mariners will be required to provide a sea service letter and course completion certificate, as appropriate. This section remains unchanged from that proposed in the SNPRM.

Two commenters state that, with reference to §§ 11.301(c), 12.613, and 12.617, there are no provisions containing specific statements as to how to re-qualify if unable to meet the continued professional competence in these areas.

The Coast Guard agrees, and amended §§ 11.301(c), 12.613, and 12.617 by adding a new paragraph clearly providing that a mariner who cannot demonstrate the required continued competency by sea service will need to do so in training ashore. This training may be the entire course, or an approved refresher course. If needed, the Coast Guard may issue additional guidance in the form of a NVIC on how this requirement may be met.

48. NMC Web Site

Two commenters believe that the absence of information on the NMC Web site detailing the endorsement requirements satisfied by approved courses violates proposed § 10.406. The commenters recommend the approvals information be returned to the Web site.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Section 10.406 requires the NMC to maintain on its Web site a list of training organizations and the approved courses they offer, and the NMC does so. Due to the sheer volume of approved courses and limited manpower assets at the NMC, the Coast Guard has not provided the information requested by the commenters on the NMC Web site since 2009. The public can use the search function on the NMC Web site for provider and course information. For more information, the public can communicate with the individual course providers. The NMC Web site contains links to provider's Web sites, which normally provide additional up-to-date information about specific approved training.

49. Offshore Supply Vessels

Three commenters note that qualifications for the new OSV endorsements reflect the applicable requirements of the STCW Convention and Code. The commenters are of the view that certain deck and engineering equipment needed for crew to demonstrate competencies required by the STCW assessment tables are not always installed on OSVs. Similarly, it is impossible to get service as an OICEW to qualify as chief engineer when an OSV is not required to carry, and normally has no position for, an OICEW. Thus, it is impossible to comply with the deep-draft ship-oriented assessments and service requirements of the STCW without reasonable and realistic accommodations for OSVs and other small work boats, such as towing vessels and geophysical vessels, among others. Similarly, it is unclear why an OSV-limited endorsement that has the identical service and STCW assessment and training requirements as a deep-draft vessel crewmember endorsement was proposed. The general requirements for OSV endorsements, and particularly domestically limited OSV endorsements, should “take account of the special characteristics, methods of operation, and nature of service of OSVs” versus mandating the deep-draft STCW standards currently proposed.

Additionally, two commenters note that the domestic license and STCW requirements are not separate, despite the preamble statements in the SNPRM to the contrary (see §§ 11.493, 11.495, 11.497, 11.553, and 11.555). The commenters recommend that the Coast Guard retain part of the existing regulatory language, which says, “The Coast Guard may exempt an applicant from meeting any requirement under STCW that the Coast Guard determines to be inappropriate or unnecessary for service on an OSV, or that the applicant meets under the equivalency provisions of Article IX of STCW.” The same commenters recommend placing such regulatory language in an appropriate location, such as § 11.201, and amending §§ 11.493, 11.495, 11.497, 11.553 and 11.555.

The Coast Guard has changed the OSV endorsements for both deck and engineer officers by separating the national and STCW endorsements to ensure consistency with other requirements. The exemption from meeting the STCW requirements included in existing §§ 11.493, 11.495, 11.497, 11.553, and 11.555 remains unchanged. The Coast Guard made additional changes to the OSV endorsements for both deck and engineer officers to include: (1) Sea service requirements comparable to other credentials; (2) the option to complete an approved course for a mate or assistant engineer to meet the sea service requirements; and (3) the progression from vessels of less than 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT to more than 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT for chief mate and master. These changes also comply with § 617 of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010, which removed the 500 GRT tonnage limits on OSVs. These amendments will ensure that mariners with existing licenses or MMCs can progress to higher credentials.

Because of the separation of national and STCW requirements, the Coast Guard amended the crossover requirements from OSV mate (§ 11.497) to OICNW (§ 11.309(e)) to give credit for the approved training program. The Coast Guard envisions that the approved training program in §§ 11.497(a)(2) and 11.555(a)(2) will meet the requirements for the STCW approved training program in §§ 11.309(a)(1) and 11.329(a)(1).

The same commenters recommend that the 200 GRT/500 GT criteria for an RFPNW or able seafarer, inter-alia, should be changed to read “over 200 GRT/500 GT on an international voyage or over 500 GRT on a domestic voyage. . . .”

The Coast Guard disagrees. The Coast Guard amended §§ 15.403(c) and 15.404(a) by replacing “200 GRT/500 GT or more” with “500 GT or more” consistent with the STCW requirements for RFPNW and able seafarer-deck. The STCW is a binding agreement with foreign countries, and these tonnage cutoffs are required by STCW.

50. Proficiency in Survival Craft

One commenter recommends that, in § 12.613(b)(2), the Coast Guard add to the list of STCW competencies that it will accept as onboard training the STCW competency “Operate Survival Craft Engine”.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended both §§ 12.615 and 12.617 to include starting the lifeboat engine as part of the assessments done onboard the vessel.

51. Bridge Resource Management (BRM)

One commenter supports the BRM, leadership and teamworking skills, and leadership and managerial skills proposal as written with a comment. BRM is the basis for mitigating marine casualties, breaking the error chain and conditioning the human element, and the commenter believes it is paramount that more emphasis is put towards building that team and getting participants out of the classrooms. The commenter believes a “team” must be built using skills gained through situational awareness and emergency situations while underway or at a training facility utilizing a full mission bridge simulator.

The Coast Guard agrees. The requirements for BRM, engineroom resource management (ERM), leadership and teamworking skills, and leadership and managerial skills were included in the STCW Convention in response to a request from the United States maritime industry through MERPAC task statement 64. The required training and demonstrations of competence taken together should provide the following three skills commensurate with an officer's responsibilities: teamwork, leadership, and management. The Coast Guard would prefer that emergency situations for training purposes not be staged while underway, and that training for such emergencies be accomplished through simulator or other training while not underway.

One commenter suggests that the benefits of BRM training should not be limited to international operators, and urges the Coast Guard to adopt similar rules for domestic operators as well.

The Coast Guard does not possess sufficient casualty or other data to support expansion of STCW requirements for BRM/ERM, leadership and teamworking skills, and leadership and managerial skills to inland vessels in this rulemaking. The STCW Convention applies to mariners serving on seagoing vessels, except pleasure craft, fishing vessels, and vessels entitled to sovereign immunity such as warships. Article II of the STCW Convention defines a seagoing ship as a ship other than one that “navigates exclusively in inland waters or in waters within, or closely adjacent to, sheltered waters or areas where port regulations apply.” The provisions in this final rule, which would implement amendments to the STCW Convention, only apply to commercial vessels operating seaward of the boundary line, as specified in 46 CFR part 7. The Coast Guard does not intend to apply strict international standards to our domestic mariners in this regard.

One commenter notes that his or her company has worked extensively to develop the skill sets of all of its mariners and particularly senior officers with regard to their leadership and management skills. The commenter believes these are vital skills that are not easy to learn and have a serious impact on the safe and efficient operation of any vessel. The commenter suggests that mariners who have participated in company training be allowed to present it for renewal/upgrade, even if the class was taken prior to the implementation of this rulemaking. Companies that can successfully demonstrate they have trained their senior officers on similar principles, the commenter states, should be allowed to renew/upgrade in the same fashion.

The Coast Guard agrees, but a regulatory change is not required. The Coast Guard will evaluate training given prior to the effective date of this final rule, and will grant credit for training that meets the requirements of this final rule.

52. Engineroom Resource Management

One commenter objects to the requirement in §§ 11.305, 11.307, and 11.325(b)(1) that applicants provide evidence of leadership and managerial skills. The commenter states that evidence of this is provided by completion of an approved bridge and engineroom resource management course. The commenter notes that most companies already evaluate their officers' leadership and management skills during a promotion and the assignment process. The commenter recommends that this requirement be accomplished by alternate means or be removed.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. In this final rule, we implement the proposals in the SNPRM that allow mariners to demonstrate meeting the applicable standards for leadership and managerial skills by alternative methods that include, but are not limited to, completing approved training.

53. Incorporation by Reference (IBR)

Five commenters request that the Coast Guard either publish the pertinent text of the STCW Code and Convention in the CFR or provide the Code and Convention to the public online rather than incorporate them by reference.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. As background, IBR allows Federal agencies to comply with the requirement to publish rules in the Federal Register and the CFR by referring to materials already published elsewhere. The legal effect of IBR is that the material is treated as if it were published in the Federal Register and CFR. This material, like any other properly issued rule, has the force and effect of law. Congress authorized IBR in the Freedom of Information Act to reduce the volume of material published in the Federal Register and CFR. (5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51).

While the Coast Guard endeavors to promulgate references needed to implement these regulations, reproducing all of the relevant STCW text in this final rule would be impracticable because doing so would significantly increase the volume of the regulation. Instead, the Coast Guard has incorporated the Convention and Code by reference, and intends to publish NVICs with the relevant tables of competency from part A of the Code. These NVICs will be made available to the public online, which will enable the public to view relevant parts of the STCW Convention and Code as needed.

54. Identification Cards

One commenter notes that a mariner who holds a resident alien card issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or a work authorization card issued by DHS, may use that card as valid identification to obtain a TWIC. The commenter, therefore, requests that the DHS work authorization card be accepted as valid proof of identification to obtain an MMC.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Application for an MMC with an officer endorsement requires that an applicant be a U.S. citizen (46 U.S.C. 7102). Applications for all other MMCs require that an applicant be either a United States citizen or a resident alien, lawfully admitted into the United States for permanent residency (46 CFR 10.221(a)(2)). Because a DHS work authorization card may be obtained by someone who is neither a U.S. citizen nor a resident alien, lawfully admitted into the United States for permanent residency, it is an unacceptable form of identification for application for an MMC. Changing this requirement is outside the scope of this rulemaking.

55. Economic Comments

One commenter states that, with regard to Regulatory Analyses, Section B. Small Entities of the SNPRM preamble, the Coast Guard's discussion of the proposed rule includes audit and quality systems requirements for training providers. The commenter states the cost analysis that has been conducted by the Coast Guard is only for the costs to training providers to implement and maintain a QSS. What the analysis of this SNPRM does not include, the commenter notes, is the economic impact on many training providers via lost revenue if the SNPRM becomes regulation, but also from the impact of CG-CVC Policy Letter 11-07 of July 1, 2011. Both the SNPRM and CG-CVC Policy Letter 11-07, the commenter believes, rescind the required approved training courses for an OICNW at the operational level on vessels of more than 500 GT (ITC). The commenter believes the SNPRM also rescinds the chief mate and master (management level) approved training presently required by NMC Policy Letter 04-02. Numerous training providers have spent years engaged in curriculum and training course development to be able to provide Coast Guard approved STCW deck officer training courses at the operational and management levels. It should be obvious, the commenter believes, that training providers make substantial financial investment to be in the position to provide the myriad of required training courses to our mariners.

This final rule does not rescind the STCW deck officer training courses at the operational and management levels. In fact, it will require mariners to complete the following STCW courses: BST refresher, advanced firefighting refresher, PSC refresher, fast rescue boat refresher, medical care provider, ERM, ECDIS, leadership and managerial skills, and IMO SMCP. In addition, the number of mariners who will need to complete some of these courses will significantly increase and should generate additional revenue to training facilities. The Coast Guard does not believe there would be revenue loss because this final rule requires STCW deck officer training courses at the operational and management levels that the commenter mentions.

The Coast Guard has included some additional training in this final rule to address some of the concerns raised during the public comment period. The Coast Guard reviewed the tables of competences and identified the training topics that must be accomplished as part of structured training. These topics were part of the NPRM published in 2010. Parts 11 and 12 of this final rule are amended to include a combination of training and service requirements (through assessments) to ensure that seafarers achieve the necessary level of competence.

One commenter believes the costs to maintain a QSS as described in § 10.410, to maintain training programs and courses in accordance with § 10.402, and to maintain records for 5 years in accordance with § 10.403 are significantly underestimated. Internal costs, the commenter notes, are not necessarily cheaper and the assumption that these costs will not be passed on is inaccurate. The analysis also does not take into account the annual costs to maintain these new requirements.

Additionally, two other commenters believe that the Coast Guard has underestimated the burden of implementing a QSS, at least with regard to providers of maritime security training, many of which are small businesses that do not offer other types of maritime training.

The commenters do not provide any specific data or estimates of their own regarding the QSS costs other than mentioning the QSS costs incurred by another training provider who already implemented QSS as part of ISO certification. The Coast Guard conducted a review of available data that support the estimated costs of QSS requirements, and disagrees with the commenters. As addressed in the SNPRM, the Coast Guard included a range of cost estimates to develop a QSS program between $4,320 and $12,240. This range of options includes the use of a professional outside consultant, a non-governmental entity QSS organization, or internal human resources to develop a QSS. Also, training providers have all the elements and procedures in place that are necessary to develop and write a QSS manual on their own without hiring a third-party company, which would potentially minimize their QSS costs.

Six commenters state that it is crucial that Coast Guard take into account the cost and cumulative impact of this regulation on small business. The commenters note that small companies are doing everything they can to survive in this volatile economy, and are greatly concerned about the economic burdens imposed by the cumulative impact of numerous Federal laws and regulations including the SNPRM. In recent years, the commenters note, passenger vessel operators have had to absorb costs associated with Coast Guard maritime security mandates, higher assumptions about average passenger weight for purposes of calculating vessel stability, new rules for serving customers with disabilities and EPA permit requirements for discharges incidental to the normal operation of a vessel.

Another commenter states that federal regulators must also take into account that many passenger vessel association operators have seasonal businesses, and that they frequently compete with land-based venues. Since the potential customer can often find similar services or attractions ashore, more burdensome rules placed on the vessel operator (such as hiring mariners with burdensome credentialing requirements) create a financial disadvantage, since the land-based competitor does not have to shoulder a similar regulatory burden.

The Coast Guard acknowledges that Executive Order 13563 of January 2011 (“Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review”) asks Federal regulatory agencies to “tailor regulations to impose the least burden on society, consistent with obtaining regulatory objectives, taking into account, among other things, and to the extent practicable, the costs of cumulative regulations”. Therefore, the Coast Guard sought to minimize the cumulative impacts on industry by allowing alternative methods of proving competence that would be potentially less costly to the mariners and their employers.

Please see Appendix D (Cumulative Programmatic Costs) of the Regulatory Analysis of this final rule for a detailed discussion of the cumulative impacts of STCW rulemakings since the 1997 interim rule. We estimate the cumulative annualized costs of STCW regulations to be about $37.2 million. This includes $32.6 million from this final rule and $4.6 million from the 1997 interim rule (estimates discounted at 7 percent). As previously discussed, these estimates may overestimate costs due to unquantified cost savings from alternative methods of proving competence that the final rule allows.

56. Grandfathering

One commenter notes that the SNPRM preamble on page 45912 states that the cutoff for grandfathering for domestic credentials is January 1, 2012, which is significantly different from the grandfathering provisions for STCW endorsements and, in the commenter's view, highlights the vague and sometimes strained relationship between the two forms of authority. If a domestic endorsement is needed to get the STCW authority attached to it, the commenter states, the grandfathering provisions for both should be the same.

The Coast Guard agrees. Domestic requirements provided in this final rule will be transitioned during a 5-year-period after the effective date of this final rule to coincide with the renewal of existing national endorsements. Individuals seeking an original credential or raise of grade to an existing credential during this period, and who begin training or service before the effective date of this final rule, need only meet the requirements in place before that date. Those individuals who start training or service on or after the effective date of this final rule, will be required to meet all provisions described in this final rule.

Another commenter recommends combining the two different sections governing grandfathering (one for domestic and one for STCW) into one section.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The domestic grandfathering process and STCW grandfathering processes will need to be handled differently to avoid confusion and ensure public awareness, because of the mandatory compliance dates within the STCW Convention and Code. The grandfathering provisions are specific to the individual endorsement requirements. To avoid confusion, the Coast Guard included grandfathering provisions within the STCW requirements.

One commenter states that § 13.603(b), concerning grandfathering, is not clear and requests clarification.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended the applicable sections in part 13 (§§ 13.603(e) and 13.605(e)) to make it clear that seafarers applying for an original endorsement after March 24, 2014 must meet the new requirements, which will ensure that all seafarers meet the STCW compliance date of January 1, 2017.

One commenter asks if the grandfathering of approved courses will include applicable maritime security courses approved by Coast Guard QSS organizations.

Any security course or program that is approved or accepted by the Coast Guard on the effective date of this final rule will be grandfathered for the term of its current approval or no later than January 1, 2017, whichever is sooner. After that date, all security courses or programs must meet the requirements of STCW. The course or program must include any additional, relevant competencies or KUPs that have been added by the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention and Code before the student completes that course or program.

One commenter recommends that mariners holding a DDE-unlimited license should be given an STCW endorsement as OICEW meeting the requirements of STCW III/1.

The Coast Guard disagrees with the suggested language that mariners holding certain national endorsements be “given” an STCW endorsement. Most national credential holders qualify in some way for an STCW endorsement, but there are sea service requirements, training, and/or assessments attached. These mariners are able to apply for a particular STCW endorsement outlined in the relevant crossover table in the STCW sections of this final rule (part 11, subpart C, and part 12, subpart F).

The same commenter recommends that mariners holding a DDE-unlimited license should qualify as a chief engineer (limited) to vessels less than 1,200 GT (III/2). In order to obtain an unlimited STCW endorsement as chief engineer, they would require evidence of meeting the additional sea service and training requirements.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. Because there is no basis for the 500 GRT/1,200 GT equivalency, it has not been added in this final rule. However, upon satisfying the requirements for chief engineer set forth in § 11.325 and Table 1 of 11.325(d), a DDE-unlimited will qualify for an STCW chief engineer endorsement limited to 500 GRT.

Two commenters state that all grandfathering provisions should be in effect for any original application submitted prior to January 1, 2013, and for any renewal prior to January 1, 2017.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Unless specified otherwise, STCW provisions in this final rule will be phased in beginning March 24, 2014 with full compliance required by January 1, 2017. This is consistent with the STCW Convention transitional provisions.

Two commenters state that mariners who hold an endorsement as tankerman-PIC (barge) should be “grandfathered” in § 13.603 for an STCW endorsement for advanced oil and/or chemical tanker operations.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. In this final rule, we allow for grandfathering to an STCW endorsement, but do not agree to extend grandfathering to self-propelled vessels because the requirements for tankerman-PIC are different than the requirements for tankerman-PIC (barge).

Three commenters state that there must be provisions to accommodate mariners who are using the current system to advance in their careers. The SNPRM preamble implies a domestic credential phase-in period but the actual regulations are silent on this point and must clarify the phase-in scheme. Additionally the phase-in should allow a mariner the option to apply under either the existing system requirements or the new requirements.

The Coast Guard agrees that the grandfathering provisions are an important part of this final rule. The grandfathering provisions in § 11.301(g)(3) permit mariners who commenced service or training before March 24, 2014, to use the existing requirements until January 1, 2017. The changes to the national credentials will be phased in over a 5-year period starting with the effective date of this final rule, consistent with the Coast Guard's normal approach to implementing credentialing rules.

Four commenters note that §§ 11.301(f)(2) and (3) require applicants for management-level STCW endorsements who hold domestic management-level endorsements to provide evidence of operational-level training and assessments. In the past, the Coast Guard considered that holding a qualifying endorsement was evidence that the individual had experience and competence equivalent or superior to that required at the operational level. Also, this would negate the grandfather provisions in both the 1995 and 2010 STCW amendments, as those mariners cannot show this evidence. Moreover, the crossover tables (Table 1 to 11.305(e), Table 1 to 11.307(e), etc.) require only management-level assessments and training. The commenters recommend continuing the previous grandfathering policy and following the crossover tables as written. To avoid confusion, the reference to operational-level training and assessment should be dropped or specifically excluded for applicants using the crossover tables.

The Coast Guard agrees and has added a new paragraph § 11.301(g)(4) so that persons who hold or have held an STCW operational-level endorsement issued prior to the effective date of this final rule, and are seeking to upgrade to an STCW management-level endorsement, will not be required to do the assessments for STCW operational-level endorsements as required in paragraph (f)(2) of that section.

Three commenters note that § 11.301(i)(3) states that mariners with service prior to July 1, 2013, “will be required to comply with the requirements of this part existing before the publication of these regulations . . . .” Although it is laudable to allow mariners to follow the rules on which they based decisions relating to their careers, these commenters say, it would also be unfair to deny them the improved provisions the Coast Guard has worked so hard to implement. They recommend changing “will be required” to “may qualify under the requirements existing either before or after [EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS RULE] at the applicants choice . . . .”

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended § 11.301(g)(3) to provide the mariner with the opportunity to use the new requirements when applying for credentials. Some of the new requirements provide additional flexibilities that were not available to mariners before. Taking this into account, the Coast Guard is also adding a new paragraph § 11.301(g)(4) in order to extend the grandfathering provisions to persons with an operational-level endorsement upgrading to a management-level endorsement, who should not be required to do assessments for STCW operational-level endorsements, as they would be deemed to have completed them.

One commenter notes that, in Table 11.465(a), there is new language which “requires completion of a TOAR within 5 years.” The commenter is concerned about current mariners who have been sailing on an inspected license and a TOAR that was completed more than 5 years ago, because they're not required to put that on their license endorsement at this time. Therefore, the commenter recommends that it be made clear in policy or CFR language that mariners be allowed to obtain the mate towing endorsement at their next renewal over the next 5 years regardless of when they completed their TOAR.

The Coast Guard agrees. The proposed 5-year time limit has been removed from this final rule. It is the Coast Guard's intent to allow mariners to attain these competencies as they are able and as they have time in their current position. Furthermore, the Coast Guard, when initially implementing the rules for licensing and manning for officers of towing vessels, did not require that mariners add these endorsements. For this reason, we will allow the addition of these towing endorsements for those who currently hold master or mate of inspected self-propelled vessels greater than 200 GRT with evidence that the mariner has completed the TOAR, regardless of the length of time since they achieved it.

One commenter notes that § 12.603(c)(2) requires a higher level of Proficiency in Survival Craft for those being grandfathered than is required for an original able seafarer-deck endorsement. Section 12.603(a)(5) allows for providing evidence of completing either a PSC or PSC-limited training, while § 12.603(c)(2) only allows grandfathering for those with a full PSC. The commenter recommends that § 12.603(c)(2) be modified to contain the same language as § 12.603(a)(5).

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended § 12.603(c)(2) as recommended.

One commenter notes that the SNPRM requires any seafarer who holds an STCW endorsement prior to January 1, 2012, to provide evidence of meeting the appropriate standard of competence for the applicable STCW endorsement by January 1, 2017. The commenter asks if he is correct to interpret this as meaning that a seafarer seeking to renew their MMC prior to July 1, 2013, will be bound by the present rules, whereas a seafarer seeking to renew their MMC after that time will be bound by the new rules.

Mariners who hold an STCW endorsement issued prior to March 24, 2014, seeking to renew their endorsements prior to July 1, 2017, will be governed by existing regulations. However, in order for them to sail on or after January 1, 2017, mariners with certain endorsements must meet some additional requirements as specified in individual provisions for endorsements found in parts 11 and 12.

Mariners seeking an STCW endorsement who start service or training after March 24, 2014 will be required to meet the requirements in this final rule.

57. Miscellaneous Comments

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard take full advantage of the flexibilities incorporated into the STCW Convention and of the robustness of an existing licensing scheme, without compromising safety, security and protection of mariners or of the marine environment. The commenter also recommends that the Coast Guard interpret the STCW Convention in a manner which will not compromise the ability of the U.S. flag merchant fleet to compete in the international trades.

The Coast Guard agrees. The regulatory text in this final rule incorporates some of the flexibilities provided by the STCW Convention with regard to sea service, training, and assessment. However, in some instances, the U.S. system provides a higher standard than the STCW Convention.

The same commenter recommends that the Coast Guard adopt guiding principles for the interpretation of the STCW Convention/Code that will ensure consistency in its interpretation as Coast Guard administrations change and future comprehensive reviews occur. In the commenter's view, such interpretations should be preserved in a manner consistent with international and national laws, regulations, and policies.

The Coast Guard agrees that guiding principles can be helpful. Accordingly, we followed the principles below in the development of this final rule, and will continue to do so during implementation:

(1) The Coast Guard will implement the STCW Convention and Code within its constraints, taking advantage of its flexibilities to the extent possible without compromising safety, security, and protection of the marine environment;

(2) Requirements should not place any unnecessary burdens on the industry and the mariners;

(3) Because the STCW Convention is competence-based and not training-based, training will only be required if it is specifically required by the Convention or if it is demonstrated that the competence can only be obtained via structured training; and

(4) Assessments will be required for all STCW standards of competence.

It is worth noting that these guiding principles were also followed during the development of the 1997 IR.

One commenter asks the Coast Guard to provide the analysis used to determine that Regulations I/6, I/8, II/1, II/2, and II/3 do not apply to the table of competencies listed in Chapter II, Part A of the STCW Code.

Because the Coast Guard has determined that those regulations apply to all tables of competencies throughout the STCW Convention, no such analysis exists. The Tables in part A of the STCW Code establish the standards of competence, which provide ways and means to demonstrate the knowledge, understanding, and proficiencies needed to meet each standard. The Convention is very specific about which standards of competence require training. Basic training, Electronic Chart Display and Information System, and Automatic Radar Plotting Aids (ARPA) are examples of such required training.

In most instances, however, the STCW Convention does not specify whether structured training is required to meet the standards of competence. It is up to each administration to establish the training and experience necessary to achieve the level of competence, and when structured training should be obtained.

Regulations II/1, II/2, II/3, III/1, III/2, III/3, and III/6 require that candidates complete education and training and meet the standard of competence specified in the appropriate sections of the STCW Code. Regulation I/6 requires that the training and assessment specified under the STCW Convention be administered and supervised by the administration in accordance with Section A-I/6 of the STCW Code for certification. The administration must also ensure that all instructors and assessors are appropriately qualified for the types and levels of training or assessment of competence of seafarers, either onboard a vessel, at shore-side facilities, or by use of simulators. Those involved in training and/or assessment must be qualified for the competence for which the training/assessment is being conducted, and must also have the required training in instructional techniques and assessment methods, as appropriate.

In accordance with Regulation I/8, all training and assessment of competence, certification, endorsement and revalidation activities should be continuously monitored by a quality standards system.

One commenter notes that § 10.225(a)(2) states that an applicant must apply as an original if the MMC sought is the first credential issued to applicants after their previous credential has expired and they do not hold a Document of Continuity under § 10.227(g) of this part or an equivalent unexpired continuity endorsement on their license. The commenter believes that this section conflicts with §§ 10.227 (b) and 10.227(i).

The Coast Guard agrees, and has amended § 10.225(a)(2) to include the words “beyond the grace period” after the words “after their previous credential has expired.” That section is no longer in conflict with § 10.227(b) and (i).

One commenter recommended that the rule clarify the roles of Coast Guard offices to better facilitate a smooth transition to implementation of the new requirements.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has amended §§ 1.01-10(b)(ii)(A), 1.01-10(b)(ii)(D), and 1.01-15(d) of this final rule to clarify the roles of the Director of Prevention Policy (CG-5P), the Office of Vessel Activities (CG-CVC), and the National Maritime Center.

58. Administrative

One commenter disagrees with the last paragraph of Section V of the SNPRM preamble, which states that if U.S. regulations are non-compliant with the STCW Convention and Code, there is a risk that U.S. ships will be detained in foreign ports by member nations and that U.S. mariners would not be able to seek employment on foreign flag vessels. The commenter states that the threat of detention is overstated in the SNPRM, and that a proposed rulemaking based on such a threat due to some minor non-conformity with the STCW Code or Convention is inappropriate.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention, specifically Regulation I/7 and Section A-I/7, require that the Parties submit a report on the steps taken to implement the 2010 amendments as part of the independent evaluation report (I/8 report). Furthermore, Section A-I/8 requires that the 5-year independent evaluation includes all applicable provisions of the STCW Convention and Code, including the amendments. The independent evaluation report is subject to review by a panel of competent persons. Failure to report implementation of the changes could potentially result in the removal from the “List of Parties giving the Convention full and complete effect” (the so-called “White List”). In turn, removal from the so-called “White List” could result in potential detentions and delays.

59. Editorial

One commenter states that § 10.209(d) lists eight items of application paperwork that can be supplied by fax or electronic means, but item four says that the applicants for a radar observer endorsement must submit either the certificate or a certified copy, making it sound like a paper document is required. The commenter recommends allowing electronic versions of that document as well. Given the fact that a “certificate of training” is acceptable documentation under § 15.815, the commenter also recommends using the phrase “certificate of training required by § 15.815” in place of “radar-observer certificate.”

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended § 10.209(d)(4) to clarify that copies of all course-completion certificates, including those for radar, are accepted. The Coast Guard also has amended § 11.480(d) to maintain consistency with § 15.815.

The same commenter recommends that, in § 10.402(a)(1), “sea service” might be better than “service experience” for consistency.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has amended § 10.402(a)(1) to read “sea service” for consistency.

The same commenter notes that § 11.201(b) provides an exception in § 11.467(h), which should be (i).

The Coast Guard agrees and has made this change in § 11.201(b).

The same commenter notes that § 11.301(b) says that mariners qualified under paragraph (e) of this section must document continued competence. It appears the management level, (f), is not included in the requirement. The commenter recommends including the management level.

The Coast Guard agrees. Basic training has been re-located to § 11.302, and the recommended changes have been made there.

The same commenter believes that, in both §§ 11.426 and 11.427, the correct section to cite in paragraph (a) should be § 15.105.

The Coast Guard agrees that the citation should have been to § 15.105. The citation has been removed from §§ 11.426, 11.427, 11.428, and 11.429, and has been corrected in § 11.323.

The same commenter notes that, in § 11.1003, the citation of § 11.1105 in paragraph (d) should be § 11.1005.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended the cited reference in § 11.1003(d) to § 11.1005.

The same commenter recommends that, in § 12.409(b)(3), the word “lifeboatman” should be “lifeboatman-limited.”

The Coast Guard agrees and has made the suggested change in § 12.409(b)(3).The same commenter notes that, in § 12.621, the terminology for the approved course should be consistent with the requirements for training in “management of medical care” found in deck management-level qualification standards. The commenter recommends using that phrase in § 12.621(a)(1).

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended § 12.621(a)(1) to include the appropriate course name.

One commenter notes that an error in the change list on page 45916 should be corrected—the reference to § 10.205(h) should be § 10.205(i).

The Coast Guard agrees. Although the comment relates to the preamble of the SNPRM, it is in the Table of Changes, parts of which have been carried over to this final rule. We have amended § 10.205(h) to read § 10.205(i).

The same commenter notes that, in table 10.302(a), the able seafarer-engine vision test reference should be § 10.305(b), not § 10.305(a).

The Coast Guard agrees. We have changed the reference in table 1 to 10.302(a) to § 10.305(b).

Two commenters suggest that § 11.317(a) should read “to qualify for an STCW endorsement as master.”

The Coast Guard agrees, and has amended § 11.317 as suggested.

One commenter believes that in § 15.610(a), the last sentence was superseded by the recent change to 46 U.S.C. 8905 and should be deleted.

The Coast Guard agrees and has deleted the last sentence of § 15.610(a). This is a housekeeping issue to address a change in statute and does not pose a burden to the public. The deletion is consistent with the change in 46 U.S.C. 8905 exempting vessels of less than 200 gross tons engaged in the offshore mineral and oil industry if the vessel has offshore mineral and oil industry sites or equipment as its ultimate destination or place of departure, from the requirement that the vessel must be operated by an individual licensed by the DHS Secretary.

Two commenters note that to receive an STCW endorsement as master of vessels less than 200 GRT/500 GT (§ 11.315), service of 36 months is required as OICNW with no tonnage requirement. It goes on to state that this period of service may be reduced to 24 months if 12 months are served as OICNW.

The Coast Guard agrees that, under STCW, the 12 months should be served as chief mate, and has amended § 11.315(a)(1) accordingly.

The same commenters note that, in § 11.317, the requirements listed for qualification as master less than 200 GRT/500 GT near-coastal are those for chief mate 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT or more.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended § 11.317(a). One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard move § 11.811, requirements to qualify for an STCW endorsement as VSO, to subpart C.

The Coast Guard agrees and has transferred the requirements for VSO, currently in § 11.811 to § 11.337. The appropriate sections in 33 CFR 104.215 will be amended accordingly.

One commenter notes that § 11.903(a) does not contain all of the MODU officer endorsements.

The Coast Guard agrees. Offshore Installation Manager, barge supervisor, and ballast control operator examination subjects are described in § 11.920-2. However, these endorsements should be listed in § 11.903, and the Coast Guard has amended it to do so.

Three commenters state that, in proposed § 11.201(h)(1), the Coast Guard mistakenly said that “mariners who completed a firefighting course within the previous 5 years . . .” but that this was a typographical error that should read, “mariners who completed a firefighting course more than 5 years ago . . .”

The Coast Guard agrees and has revised this section as recommended.

60. Comments Outside the Scope of This Rulemaking

This section describes comments requesting changes that are outside the scope of this rulemaking. Although the Coast Guard is unable to include these suggested changes in this final rule, the Coast Guard may consider them if and when the Coast Guard conducts an additional rulemaking on these subjects.

One commenter claims that, with regard to proposed § 11.910 and table 11.910-2, the public has a right to free access to the latest version of every question and answer, and the Coast Guard must keep that database up-to-date.

The commenter's suggestion is outside the scope of this rulemaking. The Coast Guard did not propose any regulatory changes concerning access to examination questions and answers.

One commenter states that, given the already complex STCW requirements and regulations, plain-language guidance is critical for mariners.

The issuance of guidance is outside the scope of this rulemaking. However, the Coast Guard will consider issuing guidance in the future.

One commenter recommends that the Coast Guard work with MERPAC and other industry stakeholders to develop a plain-language guidance document that will help mariners subject to STCW to understand readily which STCW endorsement they require and what they must do to obtain it. This is outside the scope of this rulemaking. However, the Coast will consider issuing plain-language guidance.

One commenter noted that he or she submitted correspondence to the Coast Guard several months ago concerning NVIC 11-07.

This is outside the scope of this rulemaking. NVIC 11-07 is not part of this rulemaking.

61. MERPAC Comments

Below, the Coast Guard responds to comments received from MERPAC. Several of MERPAC's comments noted non-substantive, editorial errors in the SNPRM. The Coast Guard has incorporated these comments where appropriate, without further discussion.

MERPAC believes that any persons serving as an assessor need to be qualified with training in the skills required to assess competency and approved by the Coast Guard, whether as a QA or as a DE. Therefore, a definition of Qualified Assessor should be added as follows: “Qualified assessor or QA means a person who is qualified to evaluate, for STCW endorsements, whether an applicant has demonstrated the level of competence in the task for which the assessment is being made. This person must be approved by the Coast Guard or successfully complete a CG approved or accepted program of training.”

As previously discussed, the Coast Guard has amended the definition of “Qualified Assessor” in § 10.107 to require Coast Guard approval and to clarify this person's role and professional development.

MERPAC recommends that Coast Guard work with MERPAC to develop the standards for a QA, including developing an approval process and an auditing and oversight program. A task statement should be developed for MERPAC.

The Coast Guard agrees. Section 10.405 includes requirements for qualified assessors. The Coast Guard will consider developing a task statement for MERPAC to address in the future.

MERPAC recommends that a definition for “Certificate of Registry” be added.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The Certificate of Registry is included under the MMC definition in 46 U.S.C. Subtitle II, Part E, with the definitions of the other credentialing documentation that the MMC replaced.

MERPAC says that the definition of a “domestic” officer endorsement is confusing, and recommends striking “domestic” and replacing with “National” globally.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has changed “domestic endorsement” to “national endorsement” to eliminate confusion.

MERPAC recommends the Coast Guard change the definition of “disabled vessel” by removing the last sentence of the proposed definition, and revert to the original definition. As proposed, MERPAC believes this definition would mean that any time a vessel maneuvers to and from the dock with an assist tug, or a vessel takes an assist/escort tug, that vessel would be deemed to be a disabled vessel, which would be incorrect in many instances.

The Coast Guard agrees and has deleted the sentence. The intent was not to change the definition, and the Coast Guard is only making editorial changes to the original definition of “disabled vessel” in § 10.107.

MERPAC notes the absence of a definition for “direct supervision” and recommends that one be added.

The Coast Guard agrees and is using the definition of “directly supervised” to also address “direct supervision”.

MERPAC recommends that the definition of “drug test” be amended to broaden the testing procedure to be in line with 49 CFR 40.195.

The Coast Guard disagrees. MERPAC's recommended change to the definition of “drug test” is outside the scope of this rulemaking. The Coast Guard did not propose any changes to the definition of “drug test”.

MERPAC recommends that the term “STCW endorsement” include additional language clarifying that the underlying domestic endorsement must be held by the applicant for an STCW endorsement.

The Coast Guard agrees because the requested change clarifies the requirement for mariners to hold national endorsements as a prerequisite to an applicable STCW endorsement unless otherwise specified. The Coast Guard has amended §§ 11.201 and 12.601 accordingly.

MERPAC recommends that a definition for “medical certificate” be added.

The Coast Guard agrees. To ensure consistency with other terms, a definition for “medical certificate” has been added to § 10.107.

MERPAC recommends that the “coastwise voyage” definition encompass voyages to nations in which we have a treaty or other arrangements between nations that allow coastwise transit. Furthermore, MERPAC recommends that the definition of “domestic voyage” should not include the phrase “without entering waters under the jurisdiction of another country.”

The Coast Guard partially agrees. This definition is consistent with STCW, which requires that each Administration ensure that all mariners serving on foreign vessels working in their waters meet the full STCW requirements or the near coastal provisions in the Convention as implemented by the Administration. The Convention allows for the entry into informal agreements between countries. Section 10.107 was amended so that the definition for “domestic voyage” includes voyages beginning and ending at a U.S. port and passing through the waters of another country if the U.S. has entered into a treaty or agreement with that country.

MERPAC recommends adding the definition of “ILO”, because the term is used in part 14.

The Coast Guard agrees. The ILO is referenced within Subchapter B and should be defined. Section 10.107 has been amended accordingly.

MERPAC recommends that the definition of “limited” include horsepower.

The Coast Guard disagrees. For purposes of this final rule, the term “limited” is intended to be given its normal meaning, and the definition has been removed from § 10.107.

Where used, it is explained within the regulation how it will be applied. For example, § 11.463(c) explains that for national endorsement as master, mate (pilot) and apprentice mate (steersman) of towing vessels, “limited” means an endorsement to operate a towing vessel of less than 200 GRT only within a local area within the Great Lakes, inland waters, or Western Rivers designated by the OCMI.

MERPAC recommends that the Coast Guard review the definitions of a “self propelled tank vessel” and “tankship” to ensure inclusion of all vessels.

The Coast Guard has reviewed these definitions for consistency and the inclusion of all vessels. It has been determined that the current definitions do not need revision. To address new requirements for STCW endorsements on tank vessels, we have added definitions for “oil tanker,” “chemical tanker” and “liquefied gas tanker.”

MERPAC recommends correction of the definition of “utility towing.” MERPAC believes it conflicts with the proposed definition for “disabled vessel.”

Because the Coast Guard is not including the requirements for utility towing credentials in this final rule, we have deleted the definition of “utility towing” from § 10.107.

MERPAC recommends that the Coast Guard amend the definition of “restricted” to read “. . . endorsement, for example, specific.”

The Coast Guard agrees in part. The Coast Guard recognizes that the terms “restricted” and “limited” have been used interchangeably in the past and that there is no consistency in the use of the terms in relation to the title of the credential. The Coast Guard is of the opinion that all limited endorsements or credentials have inherent in their qualifications some sort of constraint that reduces the authority of the credential. Therefore, to avoid confusion, the Coast Guard deleted the two definitions because the terms have the same meaning in standard English language usage.

MERPAC recommends that the definition of “safe and suitable person” needs to include “safety and security of life or property.”

The Coast Guard agrees that this addition will clarify the definition and has amended § 10.107 as suggested.

MERPAC recommends that the definition of “support level” should coincide with STCW Code (A-I/1)—management level and operational level.

The Coast Guard agrees that the definition should be consistent with the STCW definition and has amended § 10.107 accordingly.

MERPAC recommends that the definition “vessel personnel with security duties” be revised. Currently, it does not accurately capture security duties and it should be changed to harmonize with text from B-VI/6 in STCW.

The Coast Guard agrees. As previously discussed, the Coast Guard has revised the definition of “vessel personnel with designated security duties” to harmonize it with the guidance in Section B-VI/6 of the STCW Code and to ensure consistency with the requirements in 33 CFR 104.220 and 104.225.

MERPAC recommends that § 10.225 be amended to allow postdating of endorsements for up to 12 months unless the applicant makes a written request to the contrary.

The Coast Guard agrees. As previously discussed, the Coast Guard has amended § 10.205 to allow for the post-dating of credentials for up to 8 months with the option for a mariner to choose immediate issuance.

MERPAC recommends that a copy of a radar course certificate should not have to be certified, as proposed in § 10.209(d)(4).

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended § 11.480 to maintain consistency with § 15.815. Section 10.209(d)(4) was amended in response to another comment and no longer specifically applies to radar course certificates.

MERPAC recommends that all references linking the TWIC to the MMC be modified to reflect changes in the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010.

The Coast Guard agrees. However, as discussed previously, this issue is being addressed in a separate rulemaking.

MERPAC does not support limiting payment of fees to only electronic means. Mariners should not be forced to pay via credit card, because not all mariners have a credit card. The Coast Guard should allow for payments to be accepted in cash, certified/cashier's check, or money order.

The Coast Guard agrees and will continue to accept cash, checks, and money orders, as well as credit cards and electronic payments for MMCs and associated endorsements. Section 10.219 has been amended accordingly.

MERPAC recommends that the Coast Guard add a new paragraph to § 10.221 to address means of proving citizenship since a TWIC is no longer required for all MMCs.

The Coast Guard agrees. However, as discussed previously, TWIC-related changes from the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 are being addressed separately.

MERPAC recommends that, if there is going to be a national medical certificate, the Coast Guard de-link the medical certificate from the MMC and issue a separate medical certificate. Coast Guard needs to check for consistency with other regulations (e.g., § 10.302) and consider a Legislative Change Proposal if necessary to assure that credentials are issued after evaluating a mariner's professional qualifications alone.

The Coast Guard agrees. As previously discussed, under § 10.301 of this rulemaking, the Coast Guard will issue a separate medical certificate through the NMC.

MERPAC recommends that the Coast Guard insert a new paragraph in § 10.232(b) that would allow the issuance of an STCW restricted certificate based on seagoing service on the waters of British Columbia and the inland passage (as day-for-day service on inland waters) to ensure continued service credit for seafarers working in this area.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended § 10.232(b) to: (1) Allow day-for-day STCW sea service credit on Great Lakes vessels and aboard inland vessels that maintain STCW standards, especially those inland vessels, that by the nature of their service must occasionally go outside the boundary line; and (2) allow day-for-day service on vessels to which STCW applies, whether inland or coastwise. Service on the waters of the Inside Passage between Puget Sound and Cape Spencer, Alaska, will be credited toward near-coastal and STCW endorsements.

MERPAC is concerned that the change to the medical review process requiring the implied issuance of a medical certificate will exceed the capabilities of the NMC because of the increase in the number of reviews necessitated by the proposed 1- and 2-year cycle of certificates, and an unacceptable backlog will be created. Therefore, mariner's jobs would be jeopardized. MERPAC suggests the Coast Guard replace § 10.301(a) “operational limitations” with “limitations and/or other conditions” (to assure consistency with NVIC).

As previously discussed, the Coast Guard has no discretion over the issuance of 2-year medical certificates in compliance with the STCW Convention. However, the Coast Guard is taking actions in this final rule to minimize the numbers of mariners who will require more frequent medical evaluation, including the removal of the 1-year certificate for pilots. This change should decrease the workload on the medical evaluation staff and help to reduce the possibility of unreasonable time delays. Additionally, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 provides the Coast Guard with authority to grant limited extensions for national endorsements when the Coast Guard experiences a backlog. Furthermore, the Coast Guard will be working to develop the DME program to reduce workload issues.

MERPAC recommends that every person holding a license or MMC endorsement as first-class pilot must have a thorough physical examination each year, to be completed by the first day of the month following the anniversary of the individual's most recently completed Coast Guard required physical examination. Every fifth year, in accordance with the medical certificate/endorsement requirements in § 10.301(b), the results of the physical examination must be recorded on a CG-719K form and submitted to the Coast Guard no later than 30 calendar days after completion of the physical examination. MERPAC strongly prefers the above recommendation. However, as a “Plan B” in the event the Coast Guard does not accept MERPAC's recommendations that first-class pilots and mariners merely “serving as” a pilot be required to have 5-year medical certificates, MERPAC recommends that first-class pilots and “serving as” pilots be required to have 2-year medical certificates. Under “Plan B”, §§ 11.709(b) and (d) should be amended as follows: Every person holding a license or MMC endorsement as first-class pilot must have a thorough physical examination each year, to be completed by the first day of the month following the anniversary of the individual's most recently completed Coast Guard required physical examination. Every other year, in accordance with the medical certificate/endorsement requirements in § 10.301(b), the results of the physical examination must be recorded on a CG-719K form and submitted to the Coast Guard no later than thirty (30) calendar days after completion of the physical examination. Finally, if the Coast Guard moves forward with a certificate for National mariners, pilots should be included in § 10.301(b)(3).

The Coast Guard agrees with MERPAC's plan B and has amended §§ 10.301(b)(2), 10.709(b) and 10.709(d) so that first-class pilots will continue to be subject to annual physical examinations, but will only be issued the biennial medical certificate. Annual physicals for first-class pilots are required by 46 U.S.C. 7101. The 2-year medical certificate requirement is consistent with the STCW Convention requirement for oceangoing mariners, and strikes an appropriate balance between maritime safety and the administrative processing burden.

MERPAC recommends that the Coast Guard define communicable disease and define exactly what the concerns are. Mariners who have only a food-handler credential are receiving extensive, potentially unnecessary medical testing. Clarification needs to be provided in guidance as there currently is no standard for “communicable.”

The Coast Guard agrees and amended § 10.107 to provide a definition of “communicable disease.” The Coast Guard will clarify these requirements in future guidance in an effort to balance the impact on the individual mariner and the potential risks to public safety and health.

MERPAC recommends that the demonstration of physical ability in § 10.304(d)(2) remain in guidance and be struck from the text.

The Coast Guard disagrees. There is a need to provide minimum requirements and standards for a medical examination.

MERPAC recommended amending § 10.403(a)(7) by adding the word “significant” before “change”, to reduce the load on course providers and the NMC by not requiring that every minor change be handled as an original submission for course approval.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has amended § 10.403(a)(7) as recommended. Additionally, the Coast Guard will issue guidance in the future because any changes to a finite or time-based curriculum will have an effect on the delivery of the entire curriculum and, hence, require approval.

MERPAC recommends amending § 10.404(a)(3) by adding “substitution of required service as a result of . . .” to avoid requiring individuals to take the same class twice to maintain an endorsement when upgrading.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. This is an existing requirement that applies to national endorsements where the training is used in “lieu” of “service” or “exam.” This requirement is normally not applicable to STCW provisions, since the Convention allows for the attainment of training and assessment for management level at the operational level. In some specific instances, however, it is applicable to STCW, as it is in the case for tanker refresher training. The Coast Guard has amended § 10.404(a)(3) so that an applicant who has taken a required course prior to upgrading from a lower level, can retain the credit for that course when upgrading to the level for which the course was intended.

MERPAC recommends that the Coast Guard amend § 10.410 to include a requirement that if company training is included under the ISM, Coast Guard should accept ISM to the extent that it meets the QSS requirements.

The Coast Guard agrees. This section of the SNPRM was broad and did not apply only to training institutions and schools. However, the Coast Guard recognizes that other management systems should be included as a means to comply with the QSS requirement. Therefore, the Coast Guard has amended § 10.410 by adding a new paragraph (g) to include ISM as an alternate means of compliance for the QSS provision.

MERPAC is concerned that the incorporation by reference provision in § 11.102(a) is not helpful and recommends that the Coast Guard somehow make STCW available to the general public. It is not sufficient to incorporate by reference, since the document is only available by purchase.

The Coast Guard agrees in part and will be making relevant portions of STCW available to the public. Please see the incorporation by reference section in the discussion of comments above.

MERPAC recommends that § 11.201(j)(1)(iii) be amended to allow applicants attending approved programs to test up to 6 months prior to graduation.

The Coast Guard recognizes that some training schools complete the training program ahead of time and the rest of the time is spent prepping for the exam. If an applicant completes all parts of a comprehensive program that pertain to maritime credentialing requirements, including all sea service and required courses and assessments of competency, a maximum of 6 months prior to completion of the program, an examination will be authorized. This provision is necessary to facilitate the examination process while ensuring that new officers have the required knowledge prior to receipt of their officer endorsement.

MERPAC recommends that the Coast Guard should extend grandfathering provisions found in § 11.301(i) so that persons with an operational level endorsement upgrading to management level should not be required to do the assessments for operational level, because they were already completed.

The Coast Guard agrees and has added a new paragraph § 11.301(i)(4) so that persons who hold or have held an STCW operational level endorsement issued prior to the effective date of this rulemaking and are seeking to upgrade to an STCW management level will not be required to complete the assessments for STCW operational level endorsements as required in subparagraph (f)(2) of that section.

MERPAC recommends in § 11.307(b)(1), but also globally, that the Coast Guard define leadership competency and how is it achieved by amending regulations or policy concerning what kind of evidence will be used.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended § 11.307(b) and other regulations to require leadership training. This change is necessary to implement requirements in the STCW Code for mariners to demonstrate leadership competence at both the management and operational levels. In addition, the Coast Guard is developing guidance with sample assessments to be used by QAs in their development of assessments to be used onboard vessels.

MERPAC recommends that § 11.325(c) be amended so an applicant who holds an STCW endorsement as OICEW, second engineer officer, or chief engineer officer will be allowed to receive the ETO endorsements upon completion of the requirements in Section A-III/6 of the STCW Code.

The Coast Guard agrees and has corrected § 11.335(c) accordingly. The STCW Convention provides for the issuance of ETO endorsements to OICEW, second engineer officer, or chief engineer officer.

MERPAC is concerned that, based upon § 11.404 (et seq.), Great Lakes time is linked with inland time and needs to be broken out, 12 months for Great Lakes and 24 months for inland all the way through, even in uninspected fishing vessels and towing vessels. The new policy recognizing Great Lakes time as equivalent to ocean is not carried through part 11.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Inland and Great Lakes service time for the advancement of inland and Great Lakes endorsements continues to be on a 1-for-1 basis. Therefore, the Great Lakes and inland service time does not need to be separated. However, they have been separated when this service time is being used for oceans and STCW endorsements in this rulemaking. This was done so mariners can use Great Lakes service time on a 1-for-1 basis, up to 100 percent of the required sea service, and inland service time on a 1-for-1 basis, up to 50 percent of the required sea service. The Coast Guard has also reviewed and amended § 11.404 to clarify this.

MERPAC recommends using the following table to replace or modify Table 11.505(a). The effect is to eliminate the chief engineer, limited-near coastal endorsement. Taking into account that STCW applies to all vessels operating outside of the boundary line, there is a need to provide crossovers between national and STCW endorsements. MERPAC recommends that the regulations need to better explain the crossover from unlimited DDE to OICEW. Furthermore, MERPAC recommends that the Coast Guard negotiate the development of assessments for chief engineer (limited) at the 43rd session of the IMO subcommittee on standards of training and watchkeeping.

The Coast Guard partially agrees. We have amended Figure 11.505(a) as suggested, except chief engineer (limited) remains at 5 years sea service, and crossovers to STCW endorsements are not part of the figure due to space limitations but are contained in separate tables in part 11, subpart C.

MERPAC recommends that § 11.516(a)(3) be amended by replacing “graduation from” with “completion of an Engineering Officer Qualification Course.” An engineering officer of the watch (EOOW) letter from the Army, Coast Guard, or Navy should be prima facie evidence of competence.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Section 11.516(a)(3) provides for specific 4-year academic programs which require graduation in order to receive credit for the training and experience requirements for an STCW and national endorsement. The completion of an EOOW course does not meet all of the STCW competency requirements.

MERPAC recommends that a different term than “invalid” be used in § 11.709(d) and § 11.713(a).

The Coast Guard disagrees. The term is appropriate and is further supported by the last sentence in the same paragraph, which states “the individual may not operate under the authority of that endorsement until a physical examination has been satisfactorily completed.”

MERPAC recommends that § 11.821 be amended. This standard was extracted from a different HSC code and is confusing and inappropriate. At a minimum, add clarification about the HSC code (reference the code) and to what vessels it applies.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has amended § 11.821 to ensure that it is only applicable to seafarers operating vessels to which the HSC code applies.

MERPAC is concerned that tables 11.910-2 and 11.950-2 are pre-STCW 95. MERPAC recommends that the tables be separated by operational and management levels. A small working group should be formed to discuss and locate any differences between national and STCW endorsements that occur in this table. As far as this rulemaking is concerned, the following should be considered: (1) Completely remove tables 11.910-2 and 11.950-2 from the SNPRM; (2) in lieu of the table, the Coast Guard should issue documentation with considerable detail as to what is contained in each exam for each license level; (3) MERPAC should assist in the development of this documentation, which might take the form of a module description as has been used in the past; and (4) MERPAC Task 71 regarding license exam questions cannot logically proceed until implementation of recommendations 1-3 are well underway.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The tables need to remain in the regulations until the Coast Guard replaces them in regulation or issues guidance. The tables are necessary to provide the mariners with the topics for the exams. The Coast Guard will consider issuing a task statement to MERPAC to develop suitable information about endorsement examination topics.

MERPAC recommends that a footnote be added to Table 12.603(e) to allow for the reduction of the 6-month sea service requirement by taking an approved course for able-seafarer-deck.

The Coast Guard agrees that completion of an approved course for able seafarer-deck justifies the requested reduction in sea service, and has amended Table 1 to 12.603(e).

MERPAC recommends that a footnote be added to Table 12.605(c) to allow for the reduction of sea service (4 months) by taking an approved course for RFPNW.

The Coast Guard agrees that completion of an approved course for RFPNW justifies the requested reduction in sea service, and has amended Table 1 to 12.605(c).

MERPAC recommends that §§ 12.625 and 12.627 be amended to ensure that it provides all of the transitional provisions from STCW and to check § 15.1113 for consistency.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended §§ 12.625, 12.627, and 15.1113 by adding implementation deadlines for security training requirements. These changes are required by the STCW Convention.

MERPAC recommends that § 13.107(d) be amended as follows: (1) Remove “and for maintaining and operating the bunker systems including the fuel oil” (tankerman engineer is specifically for cargo operations. Delete everything after the semicolon.); and (2) add “liquid cargo in bulk.” MERPAC recommends that the Coast Guard ensure that text does not apply to the transfer of other than bulk liquid cargoes and a tankerman endorsement is not needed.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended § 13.107(d) to ensure it does not apply to the transfer of other than bulk liquid cargoes and a tankerman endorsement is not needed.

MERPAC recommends that § 13.117 be revised to allow the applicant to complete an approved course for renewal of a tankerman endorsement that expired more than 12 months (see § 13.120(a)(3)). Many mariners are not aware that taking a course counts toward renewal of tankerman endorsements. This would allow mariners the ability to maintain their tankerman endorsement following expiration of greater than 12 months. Furthermore, MERPAC recommends changing the reference from “tankerman rating” to “tankerman endorsement”.

The Coast Guard disagrees with the recommendation to amend § 13.117. The requirement in that section is consistent with situations where a credential has expired beyond the grace period.

The Coast Guard agrees with the recommendation to change the reference from “tankerman rating” to “tankerman endorsement.” This change is consistent with the classification of endorsements in § 10.109.

MERPAC recommends that § 13.120(a)(1) be amended by inserting ”including service aboard a barge, as appropriate” after the words “tank vessel.” This is to enable mariners serving on towing vessels, with tankerman credentials, the ability to renew those credentials.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. We agree that certain service on tank barges should receive credit. However, we do not believe a change to the regulations is required because the term “tank vessel” includes tank ships and tank barges.

MERPAC recommends that § 13.203 be amended to give mariners serving on ATBs full credit for sea time and experience (loads/discharges) towards full tankerman-PIC endorsement. Many new ATBs have identical cargo-handling equipment as tankships.

The Coast Guard agrees. The Coast Guard has amended § 13.127 to accept service onboard some ATBs toward the national and STCW tankerman endorsements (including tankerman-PIC), provided the ATB equipment is equivalent to comparable tankship equipment. This change is necessary to ensure career paths and to facilitate the use of new ATBs as qualifying platforms for tankerman endorsements. In addition, the Coast Guard has provided a means for mariners serving on tank barges to qualify for an STCW endorsement with a limitation to non-self-propelled vessels.

MERPAC recommends that the regulations include a crossover program from different types of tankers. Seafarers would already have tanker experience. A shorter course consistent with the STCW could be appropriate.

The Coast Guard agrees in part. We are retaining the existing provisions for a “crossover” for a domestic tankerman endorsement. The STCW does not provide for such a crossover, and mariners must meet the full service requirements applicable to each cargo.

MERPAC recommends that the regulations split oil and chemical tanker requirements into separate sections and incorporate the STCW code properly and include fast track language in Regulation V/I-1. Seafarers serving onboard tankers certified to carry both oil and chemicals should receive sea credit for both oil and chemicals.

The Coast Guard agrees that the STCW has separate qualification requirements for oil tankers and for chemical tankers, and has separated these two endorsements into their own sections, §§ 13.603 and 13.605. Nevertheless, it is possible for a single “cargo course” to be acceptable for both endorsements, and if the vessel the mariner serves on is certified to carry both oil and chemical cargoes, to use the same service to qualify for both endorsements.

MERPAC recommends that § 13.603 be amended to allow tankerman-engineers to obtain an STCW endorsement for advanced oil tanker cargo operations and advanced chemical tanker cargo operations so chief engineers and first assistant engineers don't have to get tankerman-PIC endorsements. Under this proposed text, chief engineers and first assistant engineers will be unable to do the loading and discharges. This section should include language that allows mariners with STCW management-level engine endorsements and tankerman-engineer national endorsement to receive an STCW advanced tanker cargo operations endorsement if they complete the STCW assessments. Changes may be accomplished by amending the domestic requirements (in § 13.201) and the STCW requirements.

The Coast Guard agrees and has added § 13.603(c) as a means for engineers to qualify for an STCW endorsement as the appropriate advanced tanker cargo operations with a limitation to maintenance and repair of cargo equipment.

MERPAC recommends that §§ 13.603 and 13.605 be amended to include an STCW endorsement for appropriate advanced tanker cargo operations with a limitation to non-self-propelled vessels.

The Coast Guard agrees. As previously discussed, personnel on non-tank vessels towing a barge outside the boundary line will be required to meet the STCW requirements. Consequently, we provided a means in § 13.603(b) and 13.605(b) for mariners serving on tank barges to qualify for an STCW endorsement with a limitation to non-self-propelled vessels.

MERPAC recommends that the Coast Guard amend part 15 by adding a section about manning documents and COIs that separately specify the STCW endorsements that must be carried onboard for international voyages.

COIs will list both national and STCW endorsements. The Coast Guard will be revising safe manning documents to be consistent with the changes in this final rule.

MERPAC recommends that the Coast Guard issue a notice to all ship owners explaining the implementation of the U.S. medical certificate to facilitate port state control inspections.

The Coast Guard agrees and will be issuing a notice to IMO and all port state control organizations worldwide. The Coast Guard will publish this notice on the NMC Web site.

MERPAC recommends that part 15 be amended. The text should honor the original agreement with DOT that the STCW application in domestic trade would start at 500 GRT. MERPAC recommends the Coast Guard amend part 15 as follows: (1) Global change in part 15—add “or 500 GRT on a domestic voyage” wherever 200/500 tonnages are used. This is pursuant to the DOT agreement to use 500 GRT on the application of the STCW; (2) Global change- add “seagoing vessel” wherever horsepower is mentioned. The tonnage should be also mentioned (200 GRT/500 GT). For example, “seagoing vessel of 200 GRT/500 GT or more driven by main propulsion machinery of 1,000 HP/750 kW propulsion power or more . . .”

The Coast Guard recognizes that the regulations and policies implementing the STCW requirements have been the subject of different interpretations, and is therefore issuing this final rule to ensure clarity of interpretations and applicability of the STCW Convention. STCW-related provisions in part 15 have been amended to incorporate the 500 GT threshold consistent with the STCW requirements. Therefore, STCW tonnage thresholds were not inserted in the engineering requirements. The Coast Guard has added the phrase “seagoing vessel of 500 GT or more driven by main propulsion machinery of 1,000 HP/750 kW propulsion power or more or on an international voyage” to § 15.1103(a) in response to this comment.

MERPAC recommends that a new paragraph (g)(3) of § 15.105 be added as follows: “Pilot vessels are not considered seagoing ships because they operate within, or closely adjacent to, sheltered waters or areas where port regulations apply.”

The Coast Guard agrees, and has amended §§ 15.105(f)(5) and 15.1101(a)(1)(v) to exempt pilot vessels engaged in pilotage duty from STCW requirements in those sections. This change is appropriate because STCW applies only to seagoing vessels that operate outside the boundary line, but generally does not apply to pilot vessels.

MERPAC recommends that § 15.404(d)(3) be deleted. That section requires that ratings, including wipers, must possess an endorsement as able seafarer-engine instead of QMEDs. The Coast Guard needs to categorize which QMED categories should be RFPEW (watchstanding) (Fireman/Watertender (FWT), oiler) and which QMED categories should be able seafarer-engine (non-watchstanding) (all others) to reflect the rating who stands a watch and who does not. Requirements should reflect that all watchstander A/Bs and QMEDS are required to hold a RFPNW or RFPEW. QMEDs serving on vessels in a non-watchstanding position, excluding wipers, oilers and FWT, must hold able seafarer-engine endorsements.

The Coast Guard disagrees. The number of QMEDs and able seamen are specified in the COI, and those serving in such positions must also hold an STCW endorsement. In addition, the Coast Guard has amended § 15.404 to specify the correlation of national rating endorsements and STCW rating endorsements based upon the SNPRM's grandfathering provisions and the usual, customary duties of each rating.

MERPAC is concerned that § 15.515(b), concerning requirements for crew to be aboard when passengers are embarked on a passenger vessel, is overly restrictive and impossible during normal vessel operations and recommends that the text be amended.

The Coast Guard disagrees. It is essential for the safety of the passengers to ensure there are sufficient personnel to respond to emergencies and passenger needs. This is an existing requirement, and this final rule adds explanatory detail for clarification purposes.

MERPAC noted that there are no guidelines for GMDSS maintainer courses in the United States. These need to be developed and provided to industry.

The Coast Guard agrees. Until such time as the Coast Guard establishes criteria for and approves such “GMDSS at sea maintainer courses,” § 12.623(a)(2)(ii) will not be a viable option to demonstrate competency. Nonetheless, the Coast Guard has included this option because it intends to soon begin the process of promulgating guidelines for GMDSS course content and approval.

MERPAC recommends that § 15.1105(c)(1) be changed from “BST or safety familiarization” to “BT and safety familiarization specific to that vessel.”

The Coast Guard disagrees. The term “BST or safety familiarization” does not appear in § 15.1105(c)(1) of the SNPRM. The text in § 15.1105(c)(1) refers to basic training or instruction and not familiarization training. We have made a global change in this final rule, changing “basic safety training” to “basic training” to be consistent with the STCW Convention. The Coast Guard does not agree to change § 15.1105(c)(1) as suggested because basic training or basic instruction refers to the four numbered items under paragraph (c), which are more extensive than safety familiarization. This text is consistent with the STCW requirements in Regulation VI/1 and Section A-VI/1.

MERPAC recommends that § 15.1109 be amended by adding “serving on seagoing vessels, except those vessels listed in 15.1101 of this part.”

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended § 15.1109 as recommended for clarity. That section refers to § 15.105(f) and (g), which contains the same exemptions as § 15.1101. This change is appropriate because STCW watchkeeping requirements apply only to seagoing vessels.

MERPAC states § 15.1113 should be amended to ensure (a), (b), and (c) apply only to vessels over 500 GT.

The Coast Guard agrees with the recommendation to ensure that the requirements in § 15.1113 apply only to vessels of more than 500 GT. In accordance with the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention, the security requirements are meant to support the requirements of the ISPS Code which applies to vessels of 500 GT or more. Therefore, the Coast Guard has amended § 15.1113 to ensure that the application of the security requirements is only to vessels of 500 GT or more.

MERPAC recommends that § 15.1113 be amended to include all transitional provisions from STCW.

The Coast Guard agrees. As previously discussed, the Coast Guard has amended § 15.1113 to include all transitional provisions from the STCW Convention applicable to vessel personnel with designated security duties and security awareness.

MERPAC recommends that § 15.1113 be amended to account for existing mariner compliance by 2012, and to account for new mariners compliance by 2014. The Coast Guard agrees. As previously discussed, the Coast Guard has amended § 15.1113 to include all transitional provisions from the STCW Convention applicable to existing and new mariners.

MERPAC recommends § 15.1113 be amended to address contractors and other personnel who should not be required to obtain an endorsement.

The 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention (Section A-VI/6) require all persons employed or engaged on a seagoing vessel to have received security familiarization. The term “all persons” includes seafarers and other personnel, including contractors, whether part-time, full-time, temporary, or permanent. At this time, the Coast Guard intends to meet the STCW 2010 amendments through the regulations in 33 CFR 104.225, which requires that all contractors, whether part-time, full-time, temporary, or permanent, must have knowledge on a number of topics, through training or equivalent job experience. The Coast Guard has also amended § 15.1113 to ensure that all contractors have knowledge of the requirements in 33 CFR 104.225 through training or equivalent job experience.

MERPAC recommends that § 15.1113 be amended to provide that individuals who have completed a USCG accepted VSO course, or have been designated as VSO are considered to have met the requirements of training for personnel with or without security duties.

The Coast Guard agrees, and has amended the requirements in § 15.1113 to ensure persons meeting the VSO requirements are considered to have met the requirements of training for personnel with or without security duties. The Coast Guard is revising the definition “vessel personnel with designated security duties” to harmonize it with the guidance in Section B-VI/6 of the STCW Code and to ensure consistency with the requirements in 33 CFR subchapter H. The expression “with designated security duties” denotes those having specific security duties and responsibilities in accordance with the vessel security plan. The Coast Guard amended the requirements in §§ 12.625 and 15.113 to ensure that the term “vessel personnel with designated security duties” is used throughout.

MERPAC recommends that § 15.1113 be amended to ensure that requirements take into account STCW Circ 7(16) providing a compliance waiver until 2017.

The STCW Convention requires that mariners who commenced service after January 1, 2012, meet the training requirements for vessel personnel with designated security duties and security awareness, as appropriate. In addition, the STCW Convention also provides transitional provisions for mariners who started service prior to January 1, 2012. Recognizing that the implementation date was fast approaching, and that there may be practical difficulties for all seafarers with security-related requirements to obtain necessary certifications and/or the necessary endorsements required in accordance with regulation VI/6 of the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention and Code, the IMO issued Circular STCW.7/Circ.17 providing advice for port state control officers on transitional arrangements leading up to full implementation of the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention and Code on January 1, 2017. The Circular recommends that Administrations should inform their port state control authorities that, until January 1, 2014, even if a seafarer's documentation with regard to the security-related training in regulation VI/6 is not in accordance with the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention and Code, it would be sufficient to accept compliance with section 13 of the ISPS. Taking the information in the Circular into account, the Coast Guard has amended § 15.1113 to implement the requirements for “vessel personnel with designated security duties” and for “security awareness.” The requirements in 33 CFR 104.220 and 104.225 meet the requirements of Section 13 of the ISPS Code.

MERPAC notes the lack of training requirements within the SNPRM as follows: (1) Generally, the officers do not have the time to perform training and assessment onboard due to minimal manning, higher workload and operational constraints; (2) under STCW mandatory rest period rules, the time available for training is limited; (3) The officers may not have the requisite knowledge to teach and assess the needed subjects effectively; (4) training is not part of a ship's officers job description; (5) most officers have not been exposed to “train the trainer” techniques; (6) most officers are reluctant to assume the legal liability of training; (7) some subjects can be better conducted ashore due to safety and economic reasons; and (8) if a company wants to address the above issues, then the company must provide the resources to conduct approved onboard training. Therefore, MERPAC recommends that additional formal classroom training be required.

The STCW Convention is a competence-based Convention, and not a training-based Convention. The Coast Guard does not believe that training is the only means of imparting knowledge, and recognizes that some knowledge, understanding, and proficiency is better acquired through experience.

The Tables in part A of the STCW Code establish the standards of competence, which provide ways and means to demonstrate the knowledge, understanding, and proficiencies needed to meet each standard. The Convention is very specific about which standards of competence require training. Basic training, Electronic Chart Display and Information System, and Automatic Radar Plotting Aids are examples of such required training.

In most instances, however, the STCW Convention does not specify whether structured training is required to meet the standards of competence. It is up to each Administration to establish the training and experience necessary to achieve the level of competence, and when structured training should be obtained.

The Coast Guard recognizes concerns raised by comments that shipboard factors, including reduced manning, higher mariner workload, and mariner fatigue issues, could make it a challenge for seafarers onboard vessels to train others. The Coast Guard also recognizes that not all STCW competencies, individual knowledge, understanding and proficiencies must be accomplished as part of structured training because there are areas where in-service experience may fulfill the competency requirement. For these reasons, the Coast Guard reviewed the tables of competencies and identified the training topics that must be accomplished as part of approved formal training. The training topics in the final rule were part of the extensive list of topics proposed in the NPRM, as well as those listed in the SNPRM.

Accordingly, parts 11 and 12 of this final rule have been amended to include a combination of training and in-service requirements, which will be validated through assessments, to ensure that seafarers achieve the necessary level of competence.

MERPAC also recommends that the content of the training should be appropriate to the tonnage, route and/or type of vessel. For example, advanced and emergency ship handling can be performed onboard OSVs, tugs, and ferries, rather than in a full mission simulator.

The Coast Guard partially agrees. The text in part 11, subpart C has been amended in each appropriate section for each STCW endorsement to indicate which courses will be required. The Coast Guard also agrees with the comment that the content of training should be appropriate to the tonnage, route and/or type of vessel. The regulatory text also includes a provision to allow for the modification of KUPs based on the characteristics and size of vessels, and for the issuance of the appropriate limitations and restrictions.

MERPAC recommends amending § 11.480 to ensure the current practice of not putting radar endorsements on MMCs is stated.

The Coast Guard did not propose any changes in this area. The requested change is outside the scope of this rulemaking.

MERPAC recommends that a working group be formed with Coast Guard Headquarters, NMC, and industry to clarify and define the certification process for single or limited size engineroom staffing. In addition, this working group should also develop the same for deck staffing on vessels of limited size.

Although this suggestion is beyond the scope of this rulemaking, the Coast Guard will consider issuing a task on this subject to MERPAC in the future.

MERPAC recommends that the NMC process refocus the medical review of mariners so that the process is risk-based.

The Coast Guard agrees that the focus should be reviewed for possible improvement, but this is outside the scope of this rulemaking. The Coast Guard is considering plans for the development of a DME program. The Coast Guard will develop guidance on the DME program in the future.

MERPAC recommends that the government pursue creating methods of funding for maritime education due to the impact of the regulatory training and education requirements. (46 U.S.C. 51103).

Although this suggestion is outside the scope of this rulemaking, the Coast Guard will continue to promote maritime education.

62. MEDMAC Comments

Below, the Coast Guard responds to recommendations received from MEDMAC.

MEDMAC recommends replacing the term “medical certificate/endorsement” with “medical certificate” throughout the document.

The Coast Guard agrees and has made this change throughout the document. This change is appropriate because the Coast Guard will be issuing separate medical certificates rather than endorsements to existing MMCs.

MEDMAC recommends removing the last sentence of § 10.301(a) and replacing it with the text from NVIC 04-08, Enclosure (6), Paragraph 7.

The Coast Guard agrees and has replaced the last paragraph of § 10.301(a) with the recommended text. This change is appropriate because it continues and codifies established Coast Guard policy on the evaluation of physical examinations.

MEDMAC recommends that §§ 10.301(b)(1) and (2) be amended to allow pilots to be issued 2-year medical certificates but not change the statutory requirement for pilots to undergo annual physicals.

The Coast Guard agrees and has amended § 10.301(b)(2) to allow pilots to be issued 2-year medical certificates to ensure consistency with the statute and to avoid any ambiguity.

MEDMAC recommends in § 10.303(b) removing the text “for medical conditions and medications when” and replacing it with “when an applicant does not meet the applicable medical standards, but”.

The Coast Guard agrees that the suggested language is more accurate, and has made this change in § 10.303(b).

MEDMAC recommends removing the last sentence of § 10.304(a) and replacing it with the content of paragraph § 10.304(c), and then removing § 10.304(c).

The Coast Guard agrees that issuing future guidance on disqualifying medical conditions is preferable to the incomplete list in the last sentence of § 10.304(a) of the SNPRM. Accordingly, we have amended § 10.304(a) and have removed § 10.304(c).

MEDMAC requests clarification of guidance on food handlers found in § 10.304(b) that relates to NVIC 04-08 Enclosure 1 “food handler” link to Homeport.

The requested guidance is beyond the scope of this rulemaking. However, the Coast Guard has provided in this rulemaking a definition for “communicable disease,” which should have direct impact on MEDMAC's concerns. The Coast Guard also will be revising policies associated with this rulemaking and publishing them as required to ensure broadest notification.

MEDMAC recommends that all food handlers be required to submit a general medical exam.

The Coast Guard disagrees. Our requirements must be consistent with the underlying statutes. At present, the Coast Guard does not have authority to require entry-level food handlers to complete the general medical exam.

MEDMAC requests clarification from the Coast Guard on how practitioners shall perform each of the listed demonstrations in § 10.304(d)(2). If the Coast Guard does not have clarification, working group 11-03 recommends a task statement be developed to address this section.

The information regarding demonstrations should be addressed in the revision of NVIC 04-08 which is already a task statement provided to the MEDMAC (MEDMAC Task Statement 1).

C. Discussion of Public Comments in Response to the Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee (MERPAC) and the Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee (MEDMAC) Recommendations

On November 3, 2011, the Coast Guard announced the availability of recommendations from MERPAC in response to Task Statement 75, in which the Coast Guard requested review of the SNPRM (76 FR 68202). The Coast Guard also announced the availability of recommendations from MEDMAC after its review of the SNPRM. The recommendations from both committees were made available to the public for comment. The public comments to these recommendations and the Coast Guard response to the comments received are detailed below.

One commenter supports MERPAC's recommendation that Qualified Assessors should be approved by the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard agrees. As previously discussed, we have amended the definition of “Qualified Assessor” in § 10.107 to add clarification of this person's role and professional development.

The same commenter supports the MERPAC recommendations regarding Listing of Training Elements for 46 CFR part 11 (Deck Competencies with Formal Training Requirements) in its entirety. The commenter states that interpreting the Code to require an approved education and training system for deck officer competencies is in keeping with the generally accepted view of the international maritime community and Coast Guard policy for nearly 10 years. That system would be operated under a QSS and is described in Tables A-II/1, A-II/2 et al. of the STCW Code.

The Coast Guard partially agrees. The Coast Guard reviewed the tables of competencies and identified the training topics that must be accomplished as part of approved formal training. These topics were part of the NPRM published in 2010. Parts 11 and 12 of this final rule are amended to include a combination of training and in-service requirements, validated through assessments, to ensure that the seafarers achieve the necessary level of competence.

One commenter disagrees with MERPAC's recommendation that mariners should not be able to obtain an STCW endorsement without meeting the service requirements for the associated national endorsement. MERPAC adds that its recommendation is about progression requirements rather than qualification requirements. The commenter states that this MERPAC recommendation would reverse the Coast Guard's stated intent to separate STCW and domestic endorsements. By recombining domestic and STCW sea-service requirements, irrespective of possible conflicts between the two, the Coast Guard would undermine another of its stated intentions, that the new regulations will be easier for mariners to read and understand the requirements for each MMC endorsement.

The Coast Guard disagrees. One of the underlying principles used in the development of this rulemaking is that the STCW endorsement is an international, independent overlay of the national endorsement. Therefore, the mariner cannot have any STCW endorsement unless that mariner possesses the equivalent national endorsement.

One commenter disagrees with MERPAC's recommendation that the Coast Guard amend its definition of “disabled vessel” by removing the last sentence of the proposed definition, and by reverting to the definition currently found in the regulations. The commenter states that if the Coast Guard agrees to this recommendation, the continued financial wellbeing of many assistance companies whose livelihood depends on towing and assistance jobs allowed by the inclusion of the last sentence of the definition of “disabled vessel” in the SNPRM will be severely threatened. Many marine assistance companies have no other means of income, and for them this amendment will be disastrous.

The Coast Guard disagrees and has only retained non-substantive editorial changes to the original definition of “disabled vessel” in § 10.107. The expansion of the definition proposed in the SNPRM would have granted authority beyond the intended scope of the meaning of “disabled vessel,” and the final rule is substantially the same as the current regulation. The Coast Guard may consider possible changes to this definition after public notice and comment in a future rulemaking.

There were several comments received in the docket that were not related to MERPAC or MEDMAC recommendations. Those comments are summarized below.

One commenter states that the Coast Guard is placing mariners in peril in § 11.402(c)(1), by allowing a mariner with only 6 months' experience as master of a 1,600 GRT vessel to become a domestic master of an unlimited-tonnage vessel. The commenter states that you need experience as a chief mate on a large vessel in order to understand how to do the captain's job on such a vessel.

Because this final rule makes no changes to the current regulations in § 11.402(c)(1), this comment is outside the scope of this rulemaking.

The same commenter states that the Coast Guard is again placing mariners in peril in § 11.404(a)(2)(ii), by allowing a mariner to become a domestic master of an unlimited-tonnage vessel after 3 years of sea time, without ever having sailed as chief mate. The commenter states that you need experience as a chief mate on a large vessel in order to understand how to do the captain's job on such a vessel.

The Coast Guard disagrees that there is no requirement for experience as a chief mate on large vessels to qualify as master of such a vessel. Section 11.404(a)(2)(i) requires that, in addition to the requirements discussed in § 11.404(a)(2)(ii), mariners must provide evidence of 6 months' service as chief mate on vessels of unlimited tonnage.

One commenter asks why chief engineer (limited-near coastal) is listed above chief engineer (limited-oceans) hierarchically in Table 11.325(d). The same commenter asks if the required service is cumulative (12 months of service to get from chief engineer (limited-oceans) to chief engineer (limited-near coastal), then an additional 12 months of service to get to chief engineer on vessels of unlimited horsepower).

The order of endorsements listed in the table is not meant to be hierarchical. Further, in response to several other comments to the SNPRM docket, the Coast Guard is eliminating the endorsement for chief engineer (limited-near-coastal). An additional 12 months of service is required to cross over to first assistant engineer (unlimited), and an additional year to qualify for chief engineer (unlimited).

The same commenter asks if the proposed regulations eliminate STCW endorsements for chief engineer (limited-oceans) and chief engineer (limited-near coastal), or rather limit them to domestic service. The commenter recommends that the Coast Guard revise the SNPRM to maintain the current scope of authority for chief engineer (limited oceans and near-coastal).

As stated above, the Coast Guard is eliminating the chief engineer (limited-near-coastal) endorsement, leaving only the assistant engineer (limited) and chief engineer (limited) endorsements. Both endorsements authorize service on oceangoing vessels of any horsepower, but restrict service to vessels of less than 1,600 GRT (hence the “limited” title).

The same commenter states that the progression paths listed in the NPRM have been changed in the SNPRM. He asks if a path remains for a chief engineer (limited-oceans) to become either a chief engineer or first assistant engineer (second engineer officer) on vessels of unlimited horsepower.

As discussed in the SNPRM, there is a path for the endorsements the commenter cites. For changes to the limited engineers' officer endorsements, including crossover points, see Figure 11.505(a).

One commenter states that an unspecified section, figure or table does not appear to be a path to STCW chief engineering officer for vessels of more than 4,000 HP. In the commenter's view, the credentialing system contains “confusion,” again without specifying what the particular uncertainty might be. The commenter further takes exception to the amount of sea service proposed in the SNPRM for a chief engineer (limited) to obtain an STCW endorsement as chief engineer officer.

As discussed above, the SNPRM established the national and STCW credentials as separate entities. Figure 11.505(a) graphically displays the progression and crossover provisions for the national engineering officer endorsements only. All national limitations and restrictions apply. It is recognized that the holder of a national endorsement might also be required to hold an STCW endorsement to sail beyond the boundary line and into foreign ports. Since the applicant for an STCW endorsement must first hold an appropriate national endorsement, the purpose of the tables in § 11.325 is to list those national endorsements that might enable the holder to obtain a relevant STCW endorsement, and to indicate if additional assessment and training are required.

A common misconception is that if a mariner holds a particular national credential (e.g., chief engineer (limited)), that he/she automatically has the right to an “equivalent” STCW endorsement as chief engineer officer (e.g., more than 3,000 kW (4,000 HP)). This is not the case, as the STCW endorsement usually requires additional practical assessment, examination and/or training. The tables in part 11, subpart C are guides for mariners to obtain STCW endorsements. Another factor in the equation is that once obtained, the STCW endorsement is dependent on any restrictions on the face of the national endorsement. For example, engineers (limited) may serve on vessels of any horsepower, but are restricted to vessels of less than 1,600 GRT. The DDEs are restricted to vessels of less than 500 GRT, and some have further horsepower limitations and/or route restrictions placed on their credentials.

D. Additional Request for Comments

In the “Additional Request for Comments” section of the SNPRM, the Coast Guard sought specific comments from the public on six issues. These issues and the Coast Guard response to the comments received are outlined below. Detailed Coast Guard responses to specific comments are located above in subsection A of this section, entitled “Public comments on the SNPRM.”

1. The Coast Guard asked about the value of tonnage and route restrictions for engineering endorsements.

The Coast Guard removed route restrictions and the endorsement for chief engineer (limited near-coastal) in this final rule, but retained the 1,600 GRT limitation for the engineer (limited) series of endorsements. Likewise, the Coast Guard retained both route and tonnage restrictions for the DDE series of engineer endorsements.

2. The Coast Guard asked about alternative or additional requirements for limiting engineer authority, such as maintaining current horsepower restrictions, or any other alternative requirements.

The responses from the public ranged from a suggestion to remove the endorsement of chief engineer (limited near-coastal) to an elaborate 13-page plan for the complete revision of the national and STCW endorsement scheme. The Coast Guard has made several changes including the removal of the chief engineer (limited near-coastal) endorsement and expanded the structure of assistant engineer-OSV, as discussed previously.

3. The Coast Guard asked about potential changes to the qualification requirements for a DE for TOARs to allow mariners to serve as DEs by virtue of their endorsements without any further approval process.

The commenters believe that the current system for a DE to apply for recognition and approval through the NMC is appropriate. The Coast Guard will continue to approve the DEs through the current process.

4. The Coast Guard asked about who, within the mariner population, will take advantage of the alternatives to formal training provided to meet the standards of competence for an STCW endorsement.

Some commenters object to allowing competency to be demonstrated by alternative methods and not exclusively through approved formal training. In their view, the language of the STCW Convention and Code places a strong emphasis on formal training and assessment, and requires education and training for all categories of STCW certification. Other commenters support the concept of onboard training as an alternative to formal classroom training but believe that there are professional knowledge and development areas where in-service experience alone will not fill the need for professional training.

The Coast Guard has added training courses for STCW endorsements that must be accomplished as part of approved formal training. These courses were part of the NPRM. Parts 11 and 12 of this final rule are amended to include a combination of training and in-service requirements (validated through assessments) to ensure that the seafarers achieve the level of competence required for STCW endorsements.

5. The Coast Guard asked about the extent to which changes to sea service requirements, particularly in § 10.232, will increase the availability of mariners for service on oceangoing vessels.

Three commenters recommended that the Coast Guard remove §§ 10.232(b)(1) and 10.232(b)(2) in their entirety in regard to sea service credit for mariners serving on the Great Lakes and on inland waters. They believe there is no useful purpose for these provisions, and their inclusion would make professional advancement more difficult, thereby decreasing the availability of mariners for service on oceangoing vessels.

The Coast Guard has retained the proposed provisions in § 10.232(b)(1) (providing day-for-day credit on the Great Lakes), and § 10.232(b)(2) (providing credit up to 50 percent of total service required). These new requirements were not previously available for those mariners seeking an STCW endorsement. Further, the Coast Guard believes that the inclusion of these sections will actually increase the number of mariners with credentials necessary to make them available for service on ocean-going vessels by expanding the opportunity to earn sea service credit.

6. The Coast Guard asked about the possible changes to fee payment options, as proposed in § 10.219, which would eliminate the ability to pay by cash or check. The commenters objected to the proposed requirement in § 10.219(d) that fee payments for MMCs and associated endorsements must be made by credit card or by electronic payment. They claimed that it would be a hardship on mariners as they do not always have these means of payment available to them.

The Coast Guard is withdrawing this proposed revision. The current § 10.219(d) will be retained, allowing for multiple forms of payment.

VII. Incorporation by Reference Back to Top

The Director of the Federal Register has approved the material listed in §§ 10.103, 11.102, 12.103, 13.103, and 15.103 for incorporation by reference under 5 U.S.C. 552 and 1 CFR part 51. Copies of the material are available from the sources listed in those sections.

VIII. Regulatory Analyses Back to Top

We developed this final rule after considering numerous statutes and executive orders related to rulemaking. Below we summarize our analyses based on 14 of these statutes or executive orders.

A. Regulatory Planning and Review

Executive Orders 12866 (“Regulatory Planning and Review”) and 13563 (“Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review”) direct agencies to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). Executive Order 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting flexibility. This final rule has been designated a “significant regulatory action” although not economically significant, under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, this final rule has been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget. A combined “Regulatory Analysis and Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis” report is available in the docket as indicated under the ADDRESSES section of this preamble. A summary of the report follows:

This final rule will ensure that U.S. mariners comply with the standards set forth in the STCW Convention and Code. This final rule will implement all amendments under the Convention, including the 2010 amendments previously discussed. In addition, the Coast Guard is responding to the comments, feedback, and concerns received from the public as a result of the SNPRM. In order to address those comments and concerns, this final rule will simplify national licensing requirements and separate them from STCW requirements; provide alternative means for demonstrating competence; clarify oversight requirements for approved courses; amend lifeboatmen requirements; and allow for acceptance of sea service on vessels serving the Great Lakes and inland waters to meet STCW requirements (see “Discussion of Final Rule” for additional details).

The changes in this final rule from the current regulations that result in additional impacts involve the following categories of provisions:

1. Medical Examinations and Endorsements

The medical certificate will be reduced from a maximum period of validity of 5 years to 2 years for mariners serving onboard STCW vessels in accordance with the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention.

2. Leadership and Managerial Skills

This final rule will require leadership and managerial skills for the management-level credential in accordance with the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention.

3. Engineroom Resource Management

This final rule will require ERM training for engineers seeking operational-level credential, and leadership and managerial skills for the management-level credential in accordance with the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention.

4. Tankerman Endorsements

This final rule will add new STCW endorsements for basic and advanced oil and chemical tanker cargo operations, and for basic and advanced liquefied gas tanker cargo operations, in accordance with the STCW 2010 amendments.

5. Safety Refresher Training Requirements

This final rule will require safety refresher training every 5 years for all STCW-endorsed mariners holding a credential in basic training (BT), advanced firefighting, proficiency in survival craft and rescue boats other than fast rescue boats, or proficiency in fast rescue boats, in accordance with the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention and Code.

6. Able Seafarer Deck and Engine

This final rule will require that personnel serving on STCW vessels as able seafarers meet the requirements for certification in order to comply with the STCW 2010 amendments.

In order to address the comments received on the SNPRM, the Coast Guard made several changes to the SNPRM in this final rule. Part A of the Discussion of Comments and Explanation of Changes section summarizes the changes between this final rule and the SNPRM and the “Tables of Changes” in section V of the preamble provides a detailed explanation for each change. None of the changes between the SNPRM and this final rule, however, will result in additional impacts to the maritime industry. However, in response to comments from the public, the Coast Guard has added a transitional provision for the implementation of the QSS requirements by January 1, 2017. This will delay the cost impact of QSS requirements to training providers and provide additional time for compliance.

Costs

We estimate that this final rule will affect approximately 60,000 U.S. mariners [8] and 316 owners and operators of 1,044 vessels by imposing additional costs. This rule also affects U.S. mariners operating inside the boundary line by imposing new requirements. However, we do not anticipate the new requirements for national endorsements will impose additional costs. Each of the requirements will affect a different subset of these mariner and owner/operator populations. We used Coast Guard's data on mariners, publicly available information on training costs and mariner wages, and other available industry information to develop the estimates of potential costs to affected mariners and to the owners and operators employing affected mariners for each requirement. We did not find additional data or receive public comments in response to the analysis presented in the SNPRM that would result in changing these estimates for affected mariners or vessel owners and operators.

This final rule will also affect approximately 141 STCW training providers by requiring them to implement a quality standards system and write and maintain a QSS manual; subjecting them to internal and external audit requirements of each Coast Guard-approved course, and extending the time period for which they must keep a paper or electronic record on each student completing a course. Similarly, we did not find additional data or receive public comments that would result in changing our estimates for affected STCW training providers other than delaying the cost impact of QSS requirements to training providers by 3 years and providing additional time for compliance.

The costs of this final rule are presented in Table 1. We estimate the total present value cost over the 10-year period of analysis to be $228.9 million at a 7-percent discount rate ($272.6 million at a 3-percent discount rate). Over the same 10-year period of analysis, we estimate the annualized costs to be about $32.6 million at a 7-percent discount rate ($32.0 million at a 3-percent discount rate).

Table 1—Summary of Present Value Costs of Final Rule Back to Top
Year Discount rate
7 percent 3 percent
[$ Millions]
* Totals may not sum due to rounding.
1 $17.0 $17.7
2 38.5 41.5
3 36.0 40.3
4 35.0 40.8
5 31.8 38.5
6 29.7 37.4
7 11.3 14.7
8 10.5 14.3
9 9.8 13.9
10 9.2 13.5
Total* 228.9 272.6
Annualized 32.6 32.0

We estimate the mariner training requirements are the primary cost driver throughout the 10-year period of analysis. See Table 2 for a summary of annualized costs by requirement category.

Table 2—Summary of the Annualized Costs of the Final Rule Back to Top
Category Annualized*
7 percent 3 percent
[$ Millions]
** Includes changes for officer, engineer and rating endorsements.
Mariner Training** $27.06 $26.40
2-Year Medical Examination 3.99 3.99
Sea Service 1.04 1.04
Training Providers 0.50 0.51
Total 32.60 31.96

The changes to mariner training make up about 83 percent of the costs throughout the 10-year period of analysis. Table 3 below presents a summary of the costs by requirement as a percentage of the total annualized costs of this final rule.

Table 3—Summary of Costs by Requirement of the Final Rule (as a percentage of annualized cost) Back to Top
Requirements Annualized cost percent
Mariner Training 83
2-Year Medical Examination 12
Sea Service 3
Training Providers 2
Total 100

We believe that the training costs discussed above would likely be high estimates, as this final rule provides flexibility in choosing alternative methods if these are more cost effective to the mariners, owners and operators.

In the absence of additional information, such as the choice of alternative methods by company size and time differences to complete one alternative compared to another, we estimate potential regulatory compliance costs by assuming that mariners and their employers would fulfill these requirements through classroom training. This results in upper-bound monetized costs for these training provisions.

Benefits [9]

This final rule will implement all amendments to the STCW and ensure that the U.S. is meeting its obligations under the STCW Convention. The STCW Convention sets the standards of competence for mariners internationally, bringing U.S. mariners in line with training, certification and medical standards developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). In addition to the benefit of improving marine safety and decreasing the risk of shipping accidents, additional benefits of this final rule are expected to accrue to the U.S. economy in the form of: (1) Preventing and mitigating accidents on STCW Convention-compliant foreign vessels in U.S. waters due to the Coast Guard's increased ability to enforce requirements; (2) Maintaining U.S. status on the “White List” and avoiding the detention of U.S. vessels in foreign ports due to non-compliance with the STCW Convention; (3) Ensuring U.S. mariners can compete in the global workforce market; and, (4) Ensuring that U.S. regulations are consistent with international performance standards based on international consensus and IMO convention, which minimizes variation in standards of training and watchkeeping.

One benefit of this final rule is an increase in vessel safety and a resulting decrease in the risk of shipping casualties. According to one study on the Review and Analysis of Accident Databases by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), the human element is involved in 80 percent of shipping casualties, with 45 percent of those casualties primarily due to human error, and another 35 percent attributable to a failure to adequately respond. [10]

The final rule seeks to decrease human error and improve responsiveness through a three-pronged approach—increased training and service requirements, improved consistency of training, and enhanced medical evaluation and reporting.

Lack of mariner competence in situational awareness and assessment are primary causes of human error. The enhanced competency and service requirements of the STCW Convention are expected to increase mariners' situational awareness and situational assessment, and improve their ability to respond to potential hazards.

The requirements for training providers to develop and follow a quality standard system help to ensure that the STCW training given to mariners is of consistent quality.

Unidentified medical conditions can also impair a mariner's ability to perform tasks and respond, thus contributing to the human element of casualties. This final rule will require more frequent medical exams for STCW mariners, thus reducing the potential contribution of medical conditions to human error. [11] In combination, the provisions of this final rule are expected to reduce potential for vessel accidents, including those with small and large consequences.

Based on data and information from the Coast Guard's Marine Information for Safety and Law Enforcement (MISLE) database system, between 2002 and 2009, there were an average of 11 fatalities and 126 injuries (ranging in severity) per year on U.S. flag SOLAS vessels that could be prevented or mitigated by this rulemaking. These form the baseline for this final rule. Likewise, pollution from incidents involving U.S. flag SOLAS vessels resulted in an annual average of 285,152 gallons of oil spilled per year that are also part of the baseline damages that could be prevented or otherwise mitigated by this rulemaking. Table 4 summarizes the annual damages associated with fatalities, injuries, and oil spills for U.S. flag SOLAS vessels.

These estimates do not include quantified measures of secondary impacts that result from vessel accidents.

Table 4—Annual Baseline of Fatalities, Industries, Oil Spills, and Property Damage (2002-2009) Back to Top
Impact SOLAS
Fatalities 11.
Injuries 126.
Oil Spills 169.
Amount of Oil Spilled 285,152 gallons.
Property Damage $25.7 million.
Congestion and Delays Not quantified.

The training, sea service and QSS provisions of the final rule would most likely reduce the risk of accident-related consequences such as fatalities, injuries, and pollution. Estimating the precise reduction in risk from improved training and sea service requirements is difficult given existing information. We found limited information on how STCW, or other competency-based marine transportation training, quantitatively increases marine safety by reducing the risk of accidents.

We did find research conducted for other industries on the impact of training programs on outcomes and behaviors. This research found a wide range of potential reductions in risk: from a low of no impact to a high of approximately 87 percent. See the “Regulatory Analysis and Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis” report available in the docket for more information. No additional data or updates to estimates were received as part of public comments.

If the annual costs of $28.1 million we estimate for the cost of training and sea service requirements (exclusive of the QSS training provider and the medical examination requirements) are compared against the accident-related baseline damages for SOLAS vessels including fatalities, injuries, property damage and oil spilled, this final rule would have to reduce damages by 23 percent to reach break even. Using the cost of training and sea service requirements, if only fatalities are considered, the final rule would need to prevent approximately 4.5 fatalities per year to break even, out of about 11 total fatalities per year on SOLAS vessels. Accident-related fatalities represent approximately 20 percent of the total baseline damages.

The annualized cost of the training and sea service requirements (exclusive of the QSS training provider and the medical examination requirements) is approximately $28.1 million per year at a 7-percent discount rate (See Table 2 for a summary of annualized costs by requirement category). Based on the distribution of potential risk reduction derived from the studies described above applied to the baseline consequences of accident-related damages for U.S. flag, SOLAS vessels, we estimate the discounted, annualized benefits of this final rule could be about $24.3 million, with a range of $23.7 million to $29.4 million.

The medical examination requirements will also reduce risk, both for fatalities due to medical conditions and for accident-related fatalities and oil spills. The incapacitation of mariners on vessels due to undiagnosed and untreated medical and/or physical conditions could contribute to vessel mishaps and associated public safety risks. Data from the trucking industry indicate that certain medical conditions can increase the risk of accidents. For example, truck drivers with diabetes have a 19 percent higher risk of causing an accident. Similarly, drivers with cardio-vascular disease have a 43 percent greater risk of causing an accident. [12]

More frequent medical exams can help ensure that medical conditions that could impair performance and increase the risk of an incident are identified earlier, thus increasing opportunities to treat the condition and reducing the chances that uncontrolled symptoms and side-effects could cause decreased performance and increased risk of accidents.

The annual costs of the medical-related requirements are approximately $3.99 million at a 7-percent discount rate. If we compare this cost with the damages associated with the five fatalities related to medical conditions, this final rule would need to result in a 12.7 percent reduction in risk to break even.

To summarize, we estimate the monetized annualized costs of this final rule to be about $32.6 million (at a 7-percent discount rate). However, we believe that this may likely be a high cost estimate as this final rule provides flexibility in choosing alternative methods of demonstrating competency if these are more cost effective to the mariners, owners and operators.

We considered five alternatives to this final rule:

  • Alternative 1: Maintain the current STCW Convention interim rule.
  • Alternative 2: Implement the NPRM-proposed requirements.
  • Alternative 3: Implement the SNPRM STCW-related proposed requirements only.
  • Alternative 4: Implement NPRM with a separate rulemaking for 2010 STCW amendments.
  • Alternative 5: Implement the SNPRM.

The first alternative is not feasible as it would not meet all U.S. responsibilities as a party to the Convention. The second alternative would partially meet U.S. responsibility, but would not implement the 2010 STCW amendments. The third alternative would meet the U.S. responsibilities under the STCW Convention, but would not provide clarifications and modification to national endorsements for which costs are minimal. The fourth alternative would not have met U.S. STCW responsibilities. The fifth alternative would not incorporate any comments, feedback, and concerns received from the public as a result of the SNPRM. Public comments helped the Coast Guard reorganize and clarify certain STCW and non-STCW provisions of the SNPRM and led this final rule to be more efficient.

The “Regulatory Analysis and Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis” report available on the docket provides additional detail on the alternatives, costs, and benefits of this rulemaking.

At this time, based on available information, we expect that this rulemaking will not be economically significant under Executive Order 12866 (e.g., have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more).

B. Small Entities

Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612), we have considered whether this final rule will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The term “small entities” comprises small businesses, not-for-profit organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000.

A Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis discussing the impact of this final rule on small entities is available in the docket where indicated under ADDRESSES.

This final rule will directly regulate mariners and training providers. Individuals, such as the mariners regulated by this final rule are not small entities under the definition of a small entity in the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA).

This final rule includes audit and quality system requirements for training providers. Based on Coast Guard data, approximately 84 percent of the STCW training providers that are affected by this final rule are small by the (SBA) size standards.

While we do not expect training providers to offer new training programs unless it is beneficial to their business model, we have estimated the impact of this final rule to training providers as if they would not pass any of their costs to mariners. Therefore, the revenue impacts to the small training providers discussed below may be overestimates.

We found that this final rule will have a significant economic impact (more than 1 percent impact on revenue) on 62 percent of small training providers in the first year they implement QSS requirements. After the first year of implementation, we found that this final rule will have a significant economic impact on 29 percent of small training providers.

In response to comments from the public, the Coast Guard has delayed implementation of the QSS requirements to January 1, 2017. This will delay the cost impact of QSS requirements to training providers and provide additional time for compliance. The impacts discussed above are not based on discounted present value costs and do not account for the additional time for compliance.

This final rule does not directly require companies or maritime employers to pay for the final training requirements for affected mariners. However, we acknowledge that some marine employers fund training and might be indirectly impacted. In recognition of this possibility, we analyzed impacts on small entities to include a sensitivity analysis showing the impact of additional training costs on employers of mariners. We provided this analysis in the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for the SNPRM and summarized it in Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for this rule.

Based on this sensitivity analysis, we found that about 80 percent of the vessel owners and operators affected by this final rule will be small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act and the Small Business Administration (SBA) size standards. We estimate that this final rule will have a more than 1 percent cost impact on annual revenue for 69 to 83 percent of the small vessel owners and operators affected by this rulemaking, depending on the year.

However, under this final rule, the Coast Guard will accept various, flexible methods for demonstrating competence that will reduce the costs of training requirements, a potential cost relief to maritime employers that fund training.

C. Assistance for Small Entities

Under section 213(a) of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-121), we want to assist small entities in understanding this final rule so that they can better evaluate its effects on them and participate in the rulemaking. If this final rule would affect your small business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction and you have questions concerning its provisions or options for compliance, please consult Ms. Zoe Goss, Maritime Personnel Qualifications Division, Coast Guard; telephone 202-372-1425. The Coast Guard will not retaliate against small entities that question or complain about this rule or any policy or action of the Coast Guard.

Small businesses may send comments on the actions of Federal employees who enforce, or otherwise determine compliance with, Federal regulations to the Small Business and Agriculture Regulatory Enforcement Ombudsman and the Regional Small Business Regulatory Fairness Boards. The Ombudsman evaluates these actions annually and rates each agency's responsiveness to small business. If you wish to comment on actions by employees of the Coast Guard, call 1-888-REG-FAIR (1-888-734-3247).

D. Collection of Information

This final rule calls for modifications to collections of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520). It modifies two existing Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Collections of Information: OMB Control Number 1625-0028, “Course Approvals for Merchant Marine Training Schools;” and OMB Control Number 1625-0079, “Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1995 and 1997 Amendments to the International Convention.”

As defined in 5 CFR 1320.3(c), “collection of information” comprises reporting, recordkeeping, monitoring, posting, labeling, and other, similar actions. The title and description of the information collections, a description of those who must collect the information, and an estimate of the total annual burden follow. The estimate covers the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing sources of data, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection.

This final rule adds to recordkeeping requirements of training providers and credentialed merchant mariners.

Title: Course Approval and Records for Merchant Mariner Training Schools.

OMB Control Number: 1625-0028.

Title 46 United States Code (U.S.C.) 7315 authorizes a license or document applicant to substitute the completion of an approved course for a portion of the required sea service. 46 CFR 10.402 specifies the information that must be submitted for the Coast Guard to evaluate and approve each course. 46 CFR 10.403 specifies recordkeeping requirements that a school teaching approved courses must meet for each student taking each course.

Under this final rule, training providers who teach STCW Convention courses will: (1) Develop and maintain a QSS, including writing and maintaining a QSS manual; (2) Undergo an internal audit and undergo an external audit every 5 years and keep the audit records for Coast Guard inspection as needed; and (3) Store student course records for an additional 4 years.

Since training providers are currently required to store student records for 1 year and many of them store records for several years more, the burden of the new requirement that will extend recordkeeping from 1 year to 5 years is small.

Summary of the Collection of Information: A licensed mariner is authorized to substitute the completion of an approved course for a portion of the required sea service. Training providers must submit specific information to the Coast Guard to evaluate and approve each course.

This final rule will require training providers to write and maintain a QSS manual and arrange two internal audits of STCW Convention courses within 5 years.

Need for Information: The information is necessary to show evidence that training providers meet the minimum quality standards and recordkeeping requirements for each course established by the IMO.

Proposed Use of Information: The Coast Guard will use this information to document that the training level of mariners meets international requirements.

Description of the Respondents: The respondents are the mariner training schools that will be required to complete form CG-719B.

Number of Respondents: According to the Coast Guard National Maritime Center (NMC), there are approximately 285 training schools. However, only 141 training providers teach STCW courses. The number of respondents is 141 STCW training providers in the first year and recurring annually.

Frequency of Response: Respondents are required to write a QSS manual in the first year and modify it as needed. They will also arrange internal audits on their STCW courses every two and a half years.

Burden of Response: Writing a QSS manual will take a training provider approximately 206 hours in the first year (205 hours for reporting and 1 hour for recordkeeping), and modifying it will take 9 hours every year (8 hours for reporting and 1 hour recordkeeping). We estimate that it will take 10 hours for each respondent to complete an internal audit twice every 5 years (9 hours for reporting and 1 hour for recordkeeping) or approximately 4 hours per year.

Estimate of Total Annual Burden: The existing OMB-approved total annual burden, as adjusted in May 2012, is 97,260 hours. This rule will increase the burden for 141 training providers by approximately 225 hours each. The total additional hours requested for this rulemaking is 30,879 [141 × (206 + 9 + 4)]. The new annual burden for the first year is 29,046 hours and about 1,833 hours each year after the first year.

Title: Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1995 and 1997 Amendments to the International Convention.

OMB Control Number: 1625-0079.

The International Convention for Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) sets qualifications for masters, officers and watchkeeping personnel on seagoing merchant ships. The United States is a signatory to these conventions, which define standards of competence necessary to protect safety of life at sea and the marine environment and address the responsibilities of all State-Parties to ensure seafarers meet defined standards of competence and quality. The information collection requirements are necessary to implement the amendments to this important international convention.

This final rule makes three changes that impact this collection. This final regulation will: (1) Change the medical exam requirements for STCW credentialed mariners from once every 5 years to once every 2 years; (2) require documented evidence of security training or awareness for 2 groups of mariners—personnel with security duties (except vessel security officers) and all other mariners working aboard a vessel; and (3) recognize STCW endorsements issued by foreign governments.

To comply with changes in medical examination requirements, mariners will be required to submit a CG-719K form as filled out by a physician. To comply with security training or awareness for personnel, vessel owners/operators will need to provide documentary evidence that personnel with security duties other than VSOs meet requirements set forth in 33 CFR 104.220, and provide documentary evidence of meeting the requirements of 33 CFR 104.225 for all other personnel working on a vessel. Additionally, this final rule allows for the recognition of STCW endorsements issued by foreign governments if proper documentation is submitted by a vessel owner/operator.

Summary of the Collection of Information: The STCW Convention sets qualifications for mariners on seagoing merchant ships. As a signatory party, the United States must collect information to document that requirements described in this important international treaty are being met.

This final rule, which adopts 2010 amendments to the STCW convention, requires STCW mariners to provide documentation of a medical exam occurring once every two years; establishes the need for documentary evidence certifying security training or awareness for personnel; and provides the means to recognize STCW endorsements issued by foreign governments.

Need for Information: The collection of information is needed to ensure that mariners have completed training and medical assessment necessary to receive STCW certification or endorsement. Collection of information is also needed to demonstrate to the International Maritime Organization that the United States has in place certain specific regulations that implement the international requirements and related amendments to the STCW convention.

Proposed Use of Information: The information collected will help to ensure compliance with international requirements and to maintain acceptable quality in activities associated with training and assessment of merchant mariners.

Description of the Respondents: The respondents will be merchant mariners holding STCW endorsements who need to update their medical records with the NMC, and the vessel owner/operators employing STCW endorsed mariners.

Number of Respondents: According to Coast Guard NMC data, an estimated 60,000 merchant mariners hold STCW endorsements. Of those mariners, approximately 12,000 submit medical examination forms each year. Since this final rule requires medical exams every 2 years, approximately 18,000 additional mariners will need to respond each year.

This final rule will also require employers of STCW endorsed mariners to submit documentary evidence of security training or awareness. Approximately 316 employers will need to submit this one-time requirement for 23,413 mariners—12,020 mariners who fall under 33 CFR 104.220 and 11,393 mariners who fall under 33 CFR 104.225.

Additionally, approximately 105 owner/operators and approximately 1,800 mariners holding STCW endorsements issued by foreign governments will need to respond.

Frequency of Response: For medical examination requirements, mariners will need to respond every two years. We will assume half of the mariner population would respond annually. For security training or knowledge, mariners will need to make a one-time response that includes the proof of meeting the requirement. Credentials for mariners holding foreign-issue STCW endorsements are valid for 5 years and response will be once every 5 years.

Burden of Response: For medical examinations, the mariner will take approximately 20 minutes to complete form CG-719K and another 5 minutes to submit that form. Total response burden will be approximately 25 minutes.

For personnel with security training, we estimate it will take employers 15 minutes per mariner to provide documentary evidence of security training or awareness.

For mariners with STCW endorsements issued by foreign governments, filling out form CG-719B takes approximately 15 minutes to complete.

Estimate of Total Annual Burden: For medical examinations, existing OMB-approved total annual burden, as adjusted in January 2013, is 17,927 hours. This rule will increase the annual burden by 7,950 hours (7,500 hours for medical exams plus 450 hours for foreign-issued STCW endorsements). Additionally, this final rule will impose a one-time burden of 5,853 hours on owner/operators to provide documentary evidence of training.

This final rule will increase the annual burden on 18,000 respondents submitting medical examination forms by approximately 25 minutes each. A total of 7,500 additional hours is requested for this rulemaking [18,000 × (25/60)]. For the approximately 1,800 mariners holding STCW endorsements issued by foreign governments, this final rule will increase the annual burden by approximately 15 minutes each. The total additional hours requested for this rulemaking is 450 [1,800 × (15/60)]. For other personnel with security training or awareness, this one-time requirement will impose a burden on 316 respondents of 15 minutes each, or approximately 5,853 hours [23,413 mariners × (15/60)].

As required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507(d)), we submitted a copy of this final rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for its review of the collection of information.

You are not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

E. Federalism

A rule has implications for federalism under Executive Order 13132, Federalism, if it has a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. We have analyzed this final rule under that Order and have determined that it does not have implications for federalism.

It is well settled that States may not regulate in categories reserved for regulation by the Coast Guard. It is also well settled that all of the categories covered in 46 U.S.C. 3306, 3703, 7101, and 8101 (design, construction, alteration, repair, maintenance, operation, equipping, personnel qualification, and manning of vessels), as well as the reporting of casualties and any other category in which Congress intended the Coast Guard to be the sole source of a vessel's obligations, are within the field foreclosed from regulation by the States. (See the decision of the Supreme Court in the consolidated cases of United States v. Locke and Intertanko v. Locke, 529 U.S. 89, 120 S.Ct. 1135 (March 6, 2000).)

In United States v. Locke, the Supreme Court referenced the STCW Convention as evidence that such areas are exclusively Federal, stating: “That training is a field reserved to the Federal Government is further confirmed by the circumstance that the STCW Convention addresses crew `training' and `qualification' requirements, and that the United States has enacted crew training regulations.”United States v. Locke and Intertanko v. Locke, 529 U.S. 89, 120 S.Ct. 1135 (March 6, 2000). This rule addresses the training and credentialing of mariners and would impact manning of vessels, areas reserved for regulation by the Coast Guard. Because the States may not regulate within these categories, this rule does not affect the relationship between the national government and the States, or the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.

This rule would not extend Federal jurisdiction into those areas of pilotage that are reserved to the States in 46 U.S.C. 8501. Section 8501 provides for State regulation of pilots in the bays, rivers, harbors, and ports of the U.S. unless the law specifies otherwise.

F. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1531-1538) requires Federal agencies to assess the effects of their discretionary regulatory actions. In particular, the Act addresses actions that may result in the expenditure by a State, local, or tribal government, in the aggregate, or by the private sector of $100,000,000 (adjusted for inflation) or more in any one year. This final rule will not result in such an expenditure; however, we discuss the economic effects of this final rule elsewhere in this preamble.

G. Taking of Private Property

This final rule will not cause a taking of private property or otherwise have taking implications under Executive Order 12630, Governmental Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected Property Rights.

H. Civil Justice Reform

This final rule meets applicable standards in sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform, to minimize litigation, eliminate ambiguity, and reduce burden.

I. Protection of Children

We have analyzed this final rule under Executive Order 13045, Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks. This rule is not an economically significant rule and does not create an environmental risk to health or risk to safety that might disproportionately affect children.

J. Indian Tribal Governments

This final rule does not have tribal implications under Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, because it does not have a substantial direct effect on one or more Indian tribes, on the relationship between the Federal Government and Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian tribes.

K. Energy Effects

We have analyzed this final rule under Executive Order 13211, Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use. We have determined that it is not a “significant energy action” under that order. Though it is a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866, it is not likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy. The Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has not designated it as a significant energy action. Therefore, it does not require a Statement of Energy Effects under Executive Order 13211.

L. Technical Standards

The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) (15 U.S.C. 272 note) directs agencies to use voluntary consensus standards in their regulatory activities unless the agency provides Congress, through the Office of Management and Budget, with an explanation of why using these standards would be inconsistent with applicable law or otherwise impractical. Voluntary consensus standards are technical standards (e.g., specifications of materials, performance, design, or operation; test methods; sampling procedures; and related management systems practices) that are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies.

This final rule does not use technical standards. Therefore, we did not consider the use of voluntary consensus standards.

M. Environment

We have analyzed this final rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), and have concluded that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This rule is categorically excluded under section 2.B.2, figure 2-1, paragraph (34) (a) and (c) of the Instruction. This rule involves the credentialing of mariners to meet IMO standards. An environmental analysis checklist and a categorical exclusion determination are available in the docket where indicated under ADDRESSES.

List of Subjects Back to Top

For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard amends 46 CFR parts 1, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 as follows:

begin regulatory text

PART 1—ORGANIZATION, GENERAL COURSE AND METHODS GOVERNING MARINE SAFETY FUNCTIONS Back to Top

1.The authority citation for part 1 continues to read as follows:

Authority:

5 U.S.C. 552; 14 U.S.C. 633; 46 U.S.C. 7701; 46 U.S.C. Chapter 93; Pub. L. 107-296, 116 Stat. 2135; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1; § 1.01-35 also issued under the authority of 44 U.S.C. 3507.

§ 1.01-10 [Amended]

2.In § 1.01-10(d)(1)(ii)(D), after the words “under technical control of the”, remove the words “Director of Inspections and Compliance (CG-5PC),” and add, in their place, the words “Director of Prevention Policy (CG-5P), and subject to the policy and guidance of the Office of Vessel Activities (CG-CVC),”.

§ 1.01-15 [Amended]

3.In § 1.01-15(d), after the words “same authority as an OCMI”, add the words “, subject to the policy and guidance of the Office of Vessel Activities (CG-CVC),”.

§ 1.03-40 [Amended]

4.In § 1.03-40, after the words “make a formal appeal of that decision or action”, remove the text “, via the NMC,”.

PART 10—MERCHANT MARINER CREDENTIAL Back to Top

5.Revise the authority citation for part 10 to read as follows:

Authority:

14 U.S.C. 633; 31 U.S.C. 9701; 46 U.S.C. 2101, 2103, 2110; 46 U.S.C. chapter 71; 46 U.S.C. chapter 73; 46 U.S.C. chapter 75; 46 U.S.C. 2104; 46 U.S.C. 7701, 8903, 8904, and 70105; Executive Order 10173; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1.

6.Amend § 10.101 as follows:

a. Revise the heading of § 10.101 to read as set forth below;

b. In paragraph (b), remove the word “their” and add, in its place, the words “his or her”; and

c. In paragraph (d), remove the words “holder of” and add, in their place, the words “applicant for”.

§ 10.101 Purpose.

* * * * *

§ 10.103 [Amended]

7.Amend § 10.103 as follows:

a. In paragraph (b)(1), remove “STCW—” and the year “1995”; after the word “amended” add “, 2011”; and after the words “incorporation by reference approved for §§ 10.107, 10.109,” remove the section number “and10.231” and add, in its place, the section numbers “10.201, and 10.410”; and

b. In paragraph (b)(2), after the word “amended” remove the year “1995” and add, in its place, “, 2011”; and after the words “incorporation by reference approved for §§ 10.107, 10.109,” remove the section numbers “10.227, and 10.231” and add, in their place, the section numbers “10.201, 10.404, 10.411, and 10.412”.

8.Revise § 10.107 to read as follows:

§ 10.107 Definitions in subchapter B.

(a) With respect to part 16 of this subchapter only, if the definitions in paragraph (b) of this section differ from those set forth in § 16.105, the definition set forth in § 16.105 applies.

(b) As used in this subchapter, the following terms apply only to merchant marine personnel credentialing and the manning of vessels subject to the manning provisions in the navigation and shipping laws of the United States:

Able seafarer-deck means a rating qualified in accordance with the provisions of Regulation II/5 of the STCW Convention.

Able seafarer-engine means a rating qualified in accordance with the provisions of Regulation III/5 of the STCW Convention.

Apprentice mate (steersman) of towing vessels means a credentialed mariner in training to perform bridge watchkeeping duties onboard a towing vessel, who must be under the direct supervision and in the continuous presence of a master or mate (pilot) of towing vessels.

Approved means approved by the Coast Guard.

Approved training means training that is approved by the Coast Guard or meets the requirements of § 10.408 of this part.

Articulated tug barge or ATB means any tug-barge combination which, through the use of an articulated or “hinged” connection system between the tug and barge, allows independent movement in the critical area of fore and aft pitch.

Assistance towing means towing a disabled vessel for consideration.

Assistant engineer, for national endorsements, means a qualified officer in the engine department other than the chief engineer.

Authorized official includes, but is not limited to, a Federal, State or local law enforcement officer.

Ballast control operator or BCO means an officer restricted to service on mobile offshore drilling units (MODUs) whose duties involve the operation of the complex ballast system found on many MODUs. When assigned to a MODU, a ballast control operator is equivalent to a mate on a conventional vessel.

Barge means a non-self propelled vessel as defined in 46 U.S.C 102.

Barge supervisor or BS means an officer restricted to service on MODUs whose duties involve support to the offshore installation manager (OIM) in marine-related matters including, but not limited to, maintaining watertight integrity, inspecting and maintaining mooring and towing components, and maintaining emergency and other marine-related equipment. A barge supervisor, when assigned to a MODU, is equivalent to a mate on a conventional vessel.

Boatswain means the leading seaman and immediate supervisor of deck crew who supervises the maintenance of deck gear.

Boundary line marks the dividing point between internal and offshore waters for the purposes of several U.S. statutes and, with exceptions, generally follows the trend of the seaward, highwater shorelines. See 46 CFR part 7.

Cargo engineer means a person holding an officer endorsement on a dangerous-liquid tankship or a liquefied-gas tankship whose primary responsibility is maintaining the cargo system and cargo-handling equipment.

Ceremonial license means a document that reflects a mariner's existing national officer endorsement and is suitable for framing, but is not valid for use as a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC).

Chemical tanker means a tank vessel that is certificated to carry or carries chemicals in bulk as cargo or cargo residue. For the purposes of qualifying for an STCW endorsement for advanced chemical tanker cargo operations, this includes tank barges.

Chief engineer means the senior engineer responsible for the mechanical propulsion and the operation and maintenance of the mechanical and electrical installations of the vessel.

Chief mate means the deck officer next in rank to the master and upon whom the command of the vessel will fall in the event of incapacity of the master.

Coast Guard-accepted means—

(1) That the Coast Guard has officially acknowledged in writing that the material or process at issue meets the applicable requirements;

(2) That the Coast Guard has issued an official policy statement listing or describing the material or process as meeting the applicable requirements; or

(3) That an entity acting on behalf of the Coast Guard under a Memorandum of Agreement has determined that the material or process meets the applicable requirements.

Coast Guard-accepted QSS organization means an entity that has been approved by the Coast Guard to accept and monitor training on behalf of the Coast Guard.

Coastwise seagoing vessel means a vessel that is authorized by its Certificate of Inspection to proceed beyond the Boundary Line established in part 7 of this chapter.

Coastwise voyage is a domestic voyage and means a voyage in which a vessel proceeds—

(1) From one port or place in the United States to another port or place in the United States;

(2) From a port or place in a United States possession to another port or place in the same possession, and passes outside the line dividing inland waters from the high seas; or

(3) From a port or place in the United States or its possessions and passes outside the line dividing inland waters from the high seas and navigates on the high seas, and then returns to the same port or place.

Communicable disease means any disease capable of being transmitted from one person to another directly, by contact with excreta or other discharges from the body; or indirectly, via substances or inanimate objects contaminated with excreta or other discharges from an infected person. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 12113, the Department of Health and Human Services periodically publishes in the Federal Register a list of infectious and communicable diseases that are transmissible through the food supply, and that list provides examples of communicable diseases for purposes of § 10.304 of this title.

Conviction means that the applicant for a merchant mariner credential has been found guilty, by judgment or plea by a court of record of the United States, the District of Columbia, any State, territory, or possession of the United States, a foreign country, or any military court, of a criminal felony or misdemeanor or of an offense described in section 205 of the National Driver Register Act of 1982, as amended (49 U.S.C. 30304). If an applicant pleads guilty or no contest, is granted deferred adjudication, or is required by the court to attend classes, make contributions of time or money, receive treatment, submit to any manner of probation or supervision, or forgo appeal of a trial court's conviction, then the Coast Guard will consider the applicant to have received a conviction. A later expungement of the conviction will not negate a conviction unless the Coast Guard is satisfied that the expungement is based upon a showing that the court's earlier conviction was in error.

Credential means any or all of the following:

(1) Merchant mariner's document.

(2) License.

(3) STCW endorsement.

(4) Certificate of registry.

(5) Merchant Mariner Credential.

Criminal record review means the process or action taken by the Coast Guard to determine whether an applicant for, or holder of, a credential is a safe and suitable person to be issued such a credential or to be employed on a vessel under the authority of such a credential.

Dangerous drug means a narcotic drug, a controlled substance, or a controlled-substance analogue (as defined in section 102 of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse and Control Act of 1970 (21 U.S.C. 802)).

Dangerous liquid or DL means a liquid listed in 46 CFR 153.40 of this chapter that is not a liquefied gas as defined in this part. Liquid cargoes in bulk listed in 46 CFR part 153, Table 2, of this chapter are not dangerous-liquid cargoes when carried by non-oceangoing barges.

Day means, for the purpose of complying with the service requirements of this subchapter, 8 hours of watchstanding or day-working not to include overtime. On vessels authorized by 46 U.S.C. 8104 and 46 CFR 15.705, to operate a two-watch system, a 12-hour working day may be creditable as 1 1/2 days of service. On vessels of less than 100 GRT, a day is considered as 8 hours unless the Coast Guard determines that the vessel's operating schedule makes this criteria inappropriate; in no case will this period be less than 4 hours. When computing service on MODUs for any endorsement, a day of MODU service must be a minimum of 4 hours, and no additional credit is received for periods served over 8 hours. For cadet service on a training ship furnished by the Maritime Administration under 46 CFR 310.4, a day may be creditable as 11/2days of service.

Deck crew (excluding individuals serving under their officer endorsement) means, as used in 46 U.S.C. 8702, only the following members of the deck department: able seamen, boatswains, and ordinary seamen.

Deck department means the department aboard a ship responsible for navigation, cargo, command, and control functions.

Designated areas means those areas within pilotage waters for which first-class pilot's endorsements are issued under part 11, subpart G, of this chapter, by the Officer in Charge, Marine Inspection (OCMI). The areas for which first-class pilot's endorsements are issued within a particular Marine Inspection Zone and the specific requirements to obtain them may be obtained from the OCMI concerned.

Designated duty engineer or DDE means a qualified engineer, who may be the sole engineer on vessels with a periodically unmanned engine room.

Designated examiner or DE means a person who has been trained or instructed in techniques of training or assessment on towing vessels and is otherwise qualified to evaluate whether an applicant has achieved the level of proficiency required to hold a towing vessel endorsement on a merchant mariner credential (MMC). This person must be approved by the Coast Guard.

Designated medical examiner means a licensed physician, licensed physician's assistant, or licensed nurse practitioner who has been trained and approved to conduct medical and physical examinations of merchant mariners on behalf of the U.S. Coast Guard and may be delegated limited authority to grant waivers and approve physical/medical suitability for service.

Directly supervised/direct supervision (only when referring to issues related to tankermen) means being in the direct line of sight of the person-in-charge or maintaining direct, two-way communications by a convenient, reliable means, such as a predetermined working frequency over a handheld radio.

Disabled vessel means a vessel that needs assistance, whether docked, moored, anchored, aground, adrift, or underway. This does not mean a barge or any other vessel not regularly operated under its own power.

Document of Continuity means a document issued by the Coast Guard to seafarers who are unwilling or otherwise unable to meet the requirements of § 10.227, for the sole purpose of maintaining an individual's eligibility for renewal of an endorsement.

Domestic voyage means a voyage from one United States port to another United States port, without entering waters under the jurisdiction of another country unless the United States has entered into a treaty or an agreement with that country respecting mutual recognition of national mariner qualifications. This includes a voyage to nowhere that returns to the originating port.

Drug test means a chemical test of an individual's urine for evidence of dangerous drug use.

Dual-mode integrated tug barge means an integrated tug barge (ITB) involving an articulated (flexible) coupling system where the towing unit rolls and heaves (articulates) about a horizontal pivot point. Dual mode units resemble a conventional tug and are capable of towing in other configurations (astern or alongside).

Electro-technical officer means an officer qualified in accordance with the provisions of Regulation III/6 of the STCW Convention.

Electro-technical rating means a rating qualified in accordance with the provisions of Regulation III/7 of the STCW Convention.

Employment assigned to means the total period of time a person is assigned to work on MODUs, including time spent ashore as part of normal crew rotation.

Endorsement is a statement of a mariner's qualifications and, for the purposes of this chapter, includes only those endorsements listed in § 10.109 of this part.

Engine department means the department aboard a ship responsible for the main propulsion and auxiliary systems, and other mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, and refrigeration systems, including deck machinery and cargo-handling equipment.

Entry-level mariner means a mariner holding no rating other than ordinary seaman, wiper, steward's department, or steward's department food handler (F.H.).

Evaluation means processing an application, from the point of receipt to approval or denial of the application, including review of all documents and records submitted with an application as well as those obtained from public records and databases.

Fails a chemical test for dangerous drugs means that the result of a chemical test conducted under 49 CFR part 40 was reported as “positive” by a Medical Review Officer because the chemical test indicated the presence of a dangerous drug at a level equal to or exceeding the levels established in 49 CFR part 40.

First assistant engineer means the engineer officer next in rank to the chief engineer and upon whom the responsibility for the mechanical propulsion and the operation and maintenance of the mechanical and electrical installations of the vessel will fall in the event of the incapacity of the chief engineer.

Great Lakes, for the purpose of calculating service requirements for an endorsement, means the Great Lakes and their connecting and tributary waters, including the Calumet River as far as the Thomas J. O'Brien Lock and Controlling Works (between miles 326 and 327), the Chicago River as far as the east side of the Ashland Avenue Bridge (between miles 321 and 322), and the Saint Lawrence River as far east as the lower exit of Saint Lambert Lock. For purposes of requiring MMCs with rating endorsements, the connecting and tributary waters are not part of the Great Lakes.

Gross register tons or GRT means the gross ton measurement of the vessel under 46 U.S.C. chapter 145, Regulatory Measurement.

Gross tonnage or GT means the gross tonnage measurement of the vessel under 46 U.S.C. chapter 143, Convention Measurement.

Harbor assist means the use of a towing vessel during maneuvers to dock, undock, moor, or unmoor a vessel, or to escort a vessel with limited maneuverability.

High-speed craft type rating (HSC) means an endorsement for specific duty on a particular type and model of high-speed craft (compliant with the high-speed craft code).

Horsepower or HP means, for the purpose of this subchapter, the total maximum continuous shaft horsepower of the entire vessel's main propulsion machinery as determined by the manufacturer. This term is used when describing a vessel's propulsion power and also when placing limitations on an engineer officer license or endorsement. One horsepower equals 0.75 kW.

ILO means the International Labour Organization.

IMO means the International Maritime Organization.

Increase in scope means additional authority added to an existing credential, such as adding a new route or increasing the authorized horsepower or tonnage.

Inland waters means the navigable waters of the United States shoreward of the Boundary Lines as described in part 7 of this chapter, excluding the Great Lakes, and, for towing vessels, excluding the Western Rivers.

Integrated tug barge or ITB means any tug barge combination which, through the use of special design features or a specially designed connection system, has increased seakeeping capabilities relative to a tug and barge in the conventional pushing mode. An ITB can be divided into either a dual-mode ITB or a push-mode ITB. The definitions for those categories can be found elsewhere in this section.

Invalid credential means an MMC, MMD, license, STCW endorsement, or Certificate of Registry that has been suspended or revoked, has expired, has been tampered with, has not been signed, or has been superseded in accordance with § 10.205 of this part.

ISM means the International Safety Management Code.

Kilowatt or kW means 11/3horsepower. This term is used when describing a vessel's propulsion power and also when placing limitations on an engineer officer license or endorsement.

Large passenger vessel, for the purposes of subpart H of part 12, and part 15, means a vessel of more than 70,000 gross tons, as measured under 46 U.S.C. 14302 and documented under the laws of the United States, with capacity for at least 2,000 passengers and a coastwise endorsement under 46 U.S.C. chapter 121.

Lifeboatman means a mariner who is qualified to take charge of, lower, and operate survival craft and related survival equipment on a vessel.

Lifeboatman-Limited means a mariner who is qualified to take charge of, lower, and operate liferafts, rescue boats, and other survival equipment on vessels where lifeboats are not installed.

Liquefied gas or LG means a cargo that has a vapor pressure of 172 kPa (25 psia) or more at 37.8°C (100 °F).

Liquefied gas tanker means a tank vessel that is certificated to carry or carries liquefied gases in bulk as cargo or cargo residue. For the purposes of qualifying for an STCW endorsement for advanced liquefied gas tanker cargo operations, this includes tank barges.

Liquid cargo in bulk means a liquid or liquefied gas listed in § 153.40 of this chapter and carried as a liquid cargo or liquid-cargo residue in integral, fixed, or portable tanks, except a liquid cargo carried in a portable tank actually loaded and discharged from a vessel with the contents intact.

Management level means the level of responsibility associated with—

(1) Serving as master, chief mate, chief engineer officer or second engineer officer onboard a seagoing ship; and

(2) Ensuring that all functions within the designated area of responsibility are properly performed.

Marine chemist means a person certificated by the National Fire Protection Association as a marine chemist.

Master means the officer having command of a vessel.

Mate means a qualified officer in the deck department other than the master.

Medical Certificate means a certificate issued by the Coast Guard under 46 CFR part 10, subpart C that serves as proof that the seafarer meets the medical and physical standards for merchant mariners.

Merchant Mariner Credential or MMC means a credential issued by the Coast Guard under 46 CFR part 10. It combines the individual merchant mariner's document, license, and certificate of registry enumerated in 46 U.S.C. subtitle II part E as well as the STCW endorsement into a single credential that serves as the mariner's qualification document, certificate of identification, and certificate of service.

MMC application means the application for the MMC, as well as the application for any endorsement on an MMC.

Mobile offshore drilling unit or MODU means a vessel capable of engaging in drilling operations for the exploration for or exploitation of subsea resources. MODU designs include the following:

(1) Bottom bearing units, which include—

(i) Self-elevating (or jack-up) units with moveable, bottom bearing legs capable of raising the hull above the surface of the sea; and

(ii) Submersible units of ship-shape, barge-type, or novel hull design, other than a self-elevating unit, intended for operating while bottom bearing.

(2) Surface units with a ship-shape or barge-type displacement hull of single or multiple hull construction intended for operating in a floating condition, including semi-submersibles and drill ships.

Month means 30 days, for the purpose of complying with the service requirements of this subchapter.

National Driver Register or NDR means the nationwide repository of information on drivers maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under 49 U.S.C. chapter 303.

National officer endorsement means an annotation on an MMC that allows a mariner to serve in the capacities listed in § 10.109(a) of this part. The officer endorsement serves as the license and/or certificate of registry pursuant to 46 U.S.C. subtitle II part E.

National rating endorsement means an annotation on an MMC that allows a mariner to serve in those capacities set out in § 10.109(b) and (c) of this part. The rating endorsement serves as the merchant mariner's document pursuant to 46 U.S.C. subtitle II part E.

NDR-listed convictions means a conviction of any of the following motor vehicle-related offenses or comparable offenses:

(1) Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of, or impaired by, alcohol or a controlled substance; or

(2) A traffic violation arising in connection with a fatal traffic accident, reckless driving, or racing on the highways.

Near-coastal means ocean waters not more than 200 miles offshore from the U.S. and its possessions, except for MMCs endorsed as Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel for which near-coastal is limited to waters not more than 100 miles offshore from the U.S. and its possessions. This would also include those near-coastal waters identified by another Administration when the U.S. has entered into a treaty or an agreement with that country respecting the recognition of the U.S. near-coastal endorsement.

Non-resident alien, for the purposes of subchapter H of part 12, and part 15, means an individual who is not a citizen or alien lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence, but who is employable in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.), including an alien crewman described in section 101(a)(15)(D)(i) of that Act who meets the requirements of 46 U.S.C. 8103(k)(3)(A).

Oceans means the waters seaward of the Boundary Lines as described in 46 CFR part 7. For the purposes of establishing sea service credit, the waters of the Inside Passage between Puget Sound and Cape Spencer, Alaska, and the inland waters of another country are not considered oceans.

Officer endorsement means an annotation on an MMC that allows a mariner to serve in the capacities listed in § 10.109 of this part.

Officer in Charge, Marine Inspection, or OCMI means, for the purposes of this subchapter, the commanding officer of the National Maritime Center, or any person designated as such by the Commandant, in accordance with 46 CFR 1.01-5(b).

Officer in charge of an engineering watch in a manned engine room or designated duty engineer in a periodically unmanned engine room (OICEW) means an engineering officer qualified at the operational level.

Officer in charge of a navigational watch (OICNW) means a deck officer qualified at the operational level.

Offshore installation manager or OIM means an officer restricted to service on MODUs. An assigned offshore installation manager is equivalent to a master on a conventional vessel and is the person designated by the owner or operator to be in complete and ultimate command of the unit.

Oil tanker means a tank vessel that is certificated to carry or carries oil in bulk as cargo or cargo residue. For the purposes of qualifying for an STCW endorsement for advanced oil tanker cargo operations, this includes tank barges.

On location means that a mobile offshore drilling unit is bottom bearing or moored with anchors placed in the drilling configuration.

Operate, operating, or operation (as applied to the manning requirements of vessels carrying passengers) refers to a vessel any time passengers are embarked whether the vessel is underway, at anchor, made fast to shore, or aground.

Operational level means the level of responsibility associated with—

(1) Serving as officer in charge of a navigational or engineering watch, or as designated duty engineer for periodically unmanned machinery spaces, or as radio operator onboard a seagoing ship; and

(2) Maintaining direct control over the performance of all functions within the designated area of responsibility in accordance with proper procedures and under the direction of an individual serving in the management level for that area of responsibility.

Orally assisted examination means an examination as described in 46 CFR, part 11, subpart I of this subchapter administered orally and documented by a Coast Guard examiner.

Overriding operational condition means circumstances in which essential shipboard work cannot be delayed due to safety or environmental reasons, or could not have reasonably been anticipated at the commencement of the voyage.

Participation, when used with regard to the service on transfers required for tankerman by §§ 13.120, 13.203, or 13.303 of this chapter, means either actual participation in the transfers or close observation of how the transfers are conducted and supervised.

Passes a chemical test for dangerous drugs means that the result of a chemical test conducted according to 49 CFR part 40 is reported as “negative” by a Medical Review Officer according to that part.

Periodically unattended engine room means a space containing main propulsion and associated machinery and all sources of main electrical supply which is not at all times manned under all operating conditions, including maneuvering.

PIC means a person in charge.

Pilot of towing vessels means a qualified officer of a towing vessel operated only on inland routes.

Pilotage waters means the navigable waters of the United States, including all inland waters and offshore waters to a distance of 3 nautical miles from the baseline from which the Territorial Sea is measured.

Practical demonstration means the performance of an activity under the direct observation of a designated examiner or qualified assessor for the purpose of establishing that the performer is sufficiently proficient in a practical skill to meet a specified standard of competence or other objective criterion.

Propulsion power means the total maximum continuous-rated output power of the main propulsion machinery of a vessel determined by the manufacturer, in either kilowatts or horsepower, which appears on the ship's Certificate of Registry or other official document and excludes thrusters and other auxiliary machinery.

Public vessel means a vessel that—

(1) Is owned, or demise chartered, and operated by the United States Government or a government of a foreign country; and

(2) Is not engaged in commercial service.

Push-mode ITBs means those ITBs that involve a rigid coupling system and, when not coupled to the barge, are incapable of conducting towing in any other configuration (such as astern or alongside) because, by themselves, they have very limited seakeeping capability. The propelling unit moves as one with the barge unit.

Qualified Assessor or QA means a person who is qualified to evaluate, for STCW endorsements, whether an applicant has demonstrated the necessary level of competence in the task for which the assessment is being made. This person must be individually approved by the Coast Guard.

Qualified instructor means a person who has been trained in instructional techniques and is otherwise qualified to provide required training to candidates for an MMC endorsement. A faculty member employed at a State maritime academy or the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy operated under 46 CFR part 310 and instructing a course on merchant marine officer or rating knowledge, understanding, or proficiency requirements is qualified to serve as a qualified instructor in his or her area of specialization without individual evaluation by the Coast Guard.

Qualified rating means various categories of able seaman, qualified member of the engine department, or tankerman endorsements issued on MMCs.

Quality Standard System or QSS means a set of policies, procedures, processes, and data required to establish and fulfill the organization's objectives.

Raise of grade means an increase in the level of authority and responsibility associated with an officer or rating endorsement, such as from mate to master or second assistant engineer to first assistant engineer.

Rating endorsement is an annotation on an MMC that allows a mariner to serve in those capacities set out in § 10.109 of this part.

Regional examination center or REC means a field office of the National Maritime Center that receives and screens credential applications, conducts approved course oversight, and administers Coast Guard examinations as required by this subchapter.

Rest means a period of time during which the person concerned is off duty, is not performing work (which includes administrative tasks such as chart correction or preparation of port-entry documents), and is allowed to sleep without interruption.

Restricted tankerman endorsement means a valid tankerman endorsement on a merchant mariner credential restricting its holder as the Coast Guard deems appropriate. For instance, the endorsement may restrict the holder to one or a combination of the following: A specific cargo or cargoes; a specific vessel or vessels; a specific facility or facilities; a specific employer or employers; a specific activity or activities (such as loading or unloading in a cargo transfer); or a particular area of water.

Rivers means a river, canal, or other similar body of water designated as such by the Coast Guard.

Safe and suitable person means a person whose prior record, including but not limited to criminal record and/or NDR record, provides no information indicating that his or her character and habits of life would support the belief that permitting such a person to serve under the MMC and/or endorsement sought would clearly be a threat to the safety and security of life or property, detrimental to good discipline, or adverse to the interests of the United States. See 46 CFR 10.211 and 10.213 for the regulations associated with this definition.

Seagoing service means service onboard a ship/vessel relevant to the issue of a credential or other qualification.

Seagoing vessel means a ship that operates beyond the boundary line specified in 46 CFR part 7.

Second engineer officer means an engineer officer next in rank to the chief engineer officer and upon whom the responsibility for the mechanical propulsion and the operation and maintenance of the mechanical and electrical installations of the ship will fall in the event of the incapacity of the chief engineer officer.

Self propelled has the same meaning as the terms “propelled by machinery” and “mechanically propelled.” This term includes vessels fitted with both sails and mechanical propulsion.

Senior company official means the president, vice president, vice president for personnel, personnel director, or similarly titled or responsible individual, or another employee designated in writing by one of these individuals for the purpose of certifying employment.

Service (as used when computing the required service for endorsements) means the time period, in days, a person is assigned to work. On MODUs, this excludes time spent ashore as part of crew rotation.

Ship means a vessel using any mode of propulsion, including sail and auxiliary sail.

Simulated transfer means a transfer practiced in a course meeting the requirements of § 13.121 of this subchapter that uses simulation to meet part of the service on transfers required for tankerman by §§ 13.203 or 13.303 of this subchapter.

Staff officer means a person who holds an MMC with an officer endorsement listed in § 10.109(a)(36) through (a)(43) of this part.

Standard of competence means the level of proficiency to be achieved for the proper performance of duties onboard vessels according to national and international criteria.

Steward's department means the department that includes entertainment personnel and all service personnel, including wait staff, housekeeping staff, and galley workers, as defined in the vessel security plan approved by the Secretary under 46 U.S.C. 70103(c). These personnel may also be referred to as members of the hotel department on a large passenger vessel.

STCW means the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, as amended (incorporated by reference, see § 10.103 of this subpart).

STCW Code means the Seafarers' Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Code (incorporated by reference, see § 10.103 of this subpart).

STCW endorsement means an annotation on an MMC that allows a mariner to serve in those capacities under § 10.109(d) of this subpart. The STCW endorsement serves as evidence that a mariner has met the requirements of the STCW Convention.

Support level means the level of responsibility associated with performing assigned tasks, duties, or responsibilities onboard a seagoing ship under the direction of an individual serving in the operational or management level.

Tank barge means a non-self-propelled tank vessel.

Tank vessel means a vessel that is constructed or adapted to carry, or that carries, oil or hazardous material in bulk as cargo or cargo residue, and that—

(1) Is a vessel of the United States;

(2) Operates on the navigable waters of the United States; or

(3) Transfers oil or hazardous material in a port or place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

Tankerman assistant means a person holding a valid “Tankerman-Assistant” endorsement on his or her MMC. See 46 CFR, part 13, subpart D.

Tankerman engineer means a person holding a valid “Tankerman-Engineer” endorsement on his or her MMC. See 46 CFR part 13, subpart E.

Tankerman PIC means a person holding a valid “Tankerman-PIC” endorsement on his or her MMC. See 46 CFR part 13, subpart B.

Tankerman PIC (Barge) means a person holding a valid “Tankerman-PIC (Barge)” endorsement on his or her MMC. See 46 CFR part 13, subpart C.

Tankship means any self-propelled tank vessel constructed or adapted primarily to carry oil or hazardous material in bulk as cargo or as cargo residue.

Training program means a combination of training, practical assessment, and service which provides an individual with all or part of the necessary knowledge, understanding, and proficiency required for a specific qualification.

Transfer means any movement of fuel, dangerous liquid, or liquefied gas as cargo in bulk or as cargo residue to or from a vessel by means of pumping, gravitation, or displacement.

Transportation Worker Identification Credential or TWIC means an identification credential issued by the Transportation Security Administration under 49 CFR part 1572.

Underway means that a vessel is not at anchor, made fast to the shore, or aground. When referring to a mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU), underway means that the MODU is not in an on-location or laid-up status and includes that period of time when the MODU is deploying or recovering its mooring system.

Undocumented vessel means a vessel not required to have a certificate of documentation issued under the laws of the United States.

Unlimited means an annotation on an MMC authorizing service on vessels of any tonnage or any propulsion power.

Vessel personnel with designated security duties means a person, excluding the designated security officer (e.g., Company Security Officer (CSO), as defined in 33 CFR chapter I, subchapter H, and Vessel Security Officer (VSO)), having specific security duties and responsibilities in accordance with the ship security plan.

Vessel Security Officer (VSO) means a person onboard the vessel accountable to the Master and designated by the Company as responsible for security of the vessel, including implementation and maintenance of the Vessel's Security Plan, and for liaison with the Facility Security Officer and the vessel's Company Security Officer.

Western Rivers means—

(1) The Mississippi River;

(2) The Mississippi River's tributaries, South Pass, and Southwest Pass, to the navigational demarcation lines dividing the high seas from harbors, rivers, and other inland waters of the United States;

(3) The Port Allen-Morgan City Alternate Route;

(4) That part of the Atchafalaya River above its junction with the Port Allen-Morgan City Alternate Route including the Old River and the Red River; and

(5) Those waters specified in 33 CFR 89.25.

Year means 360 days for the purpose of complying with the service requirements of this subchapter.

9.Revise § 10.109 to read as follows:

§ 10.109 Classification of endorsements.

(a) National officer endorsements. The following national officer endorsements are established in part 11 of this subchapter. The endorsements indicate that an individual holding a valid MMC with this endorsement is qualified to serve in that capacity and the endorsement has been issued under the requirements contained in part 11 of this subchapter:

(1) Master.

(2) Chief mate.

(3) Second mate.

(4) Third mate.

(5) Mate.

(6) Master of towing vessels.

(7) Master of towing vessels, limited.

(8) Mate (pilot) of towing vessels.

(9) Apprentice mate (Steersman).

(10) Apprentice mate (Steersman), limited.

(11) Assistance towing.

(12) Offshore installation manager (OIM).

(13) Barge supervisor (BS).

(14) Ballast control operator (BCO).

(15) Operator of uninspected passenger vessels (OUPV).

(16) Master of uninspected fishing industry vessels.

(17) Mate of uninspected fishing industry vessels.

(18) Master (OSV).

(19) Chief mate (OSV).

(20) Mate (OSV).

(21) Chief engineer.

(22) Chief engineer (limited).

(23) First assistant engineer.

(24) Second assistant engineer.

(25) Third assistant engineer.

(26) Assistant engineer (limited).

(27) Designated duty engineer (DDE).

(28) Chief engineer (OSV).

(29) Assistant engineer (OSV).

(30) Chief engineer MODU.

(31) Assistant engineer MODU.

(32) Chief engineer uninspected fishing industry vessels.

(33) Assistant engineer uninspected fishing industry vessels.

(34) Radio officer.

(35) First-class pilot.

(36) Chief purser.

(37) Purser.

(38) Senior assistant purser.

(39) Junior assistant purser.

(40) Medical doctor.

(41) Professional nurse.

(42) Marine physician assistant.

(43) Hospital corpsman.

(44) High-speed craft type rating.

(45) Radar observer.

(b) National rating endorsements. The following national rating endorsements are established in part 12 of this subchapter. The endorsements indicate that an individual holding a valid MMC with this endorsement is qualified to serve in that capacity and the endorsement has been issued under the requirements contained in part 12 of this subchapter:

(1) Able seaman:

(i) Unlimited;

(ii) Limited;

(iii) Special;

(iv) Special (OSV);

(v) Sail; and

(vi) Fishing industry.

(2) Ordinary seaman.

(3) Qualified member of the engine department (QMED), including the following specialty endorsements:

(i) Oiler;

(ii) Fireman/Watertender;

(iii) Junior engineer;

(iv) Pumpman/Machinist; and

(v) Electrician/Refrigerating engineer.

(4) Lifeboatman.

(5) Lifeboatman-Limited.

(6) Wiper.

(7) Steward's department.

(8) Steward's department (F.H.).

(9) Cadet (deck or engine).

(10) Student observer.

(11) Apprentice engineer.

(12) Apprentice mate.

(c) The following ratings are established in part 13 of this subchapter. The national endorsements indicate that an individual holding a valid MMC with this endorsement is qualified to serve in that capacity and the endorsement has been issued under the requirements contained in part 13 of this subchapter:

(1) Tankerman-PIC.

(2) Tankerman-PIC (Barge).

(3) Restricted Tankerman-PIC.

(4) Restricted Tankerman-PIC (Barge).

(5) Tankerman assistant.

(6) Tankerman engineer.

(d) STCW endorsements. The following STCW endorsements are issued according to the STCW Convention, the STCW Code, and parts 11, 12, and 13 of this subchapter. The endorsements indicate that an individual holding a valid MMC with this endorsement is qualified to serve in that capacity and the endorsement has been issued under the requirements contained in parts 11, 12 or 13 of this subchapter as well as the STCW Convention and STCW Code (incorporated by reference, see § 10.103 of this subpart):

(1) Master.

(2) Chief mate.

(3) Officer in charge of a navigational watch (OICNW).

(4) Chief engineer officer.

(5) Second engineer officer.

(6) Officer in charge of an engineering watch in a manned engineroom or designated duty engineer in a periodically unmanned engineroom (OICEW).

(7) Electro-technical officer (ETO).

(8) Rating forming part of a navigational watch (RFPNW).

(9) Able seafarer-deck.

(10) Rating forming part of an engineering watch in a manned engineroom or designated to perform duties in a periodically unmanned engineroom (RFPEW).

(11) Able seafarer-engine.

(12) Electro-technical rating.

(13) Basic training (BT).

(14) Advanced firefighting.

(15) Proficiency in survival craft and rescue boats other than fast rescue boats (PSC).

(16) Proficiency in survival craft and rescue boats other than fast rescue boats—limited (PSC—limited).

(17) Proficiency in fast rescue boats.

(18) Person in charge of medical care.

(19) Medical first-aid provider.

(20) GMDSS at-sea maintainer.

(21) GMDSS operator.

(22) Advanced oil tanker cargo operation.

(23) Advanced chemical tanker cargo operation.

(24) Advanced liquefied gas tanker cargo operation.

(25) Basic oil and chemical tanker cargo operation.

(26) Basic liquefied gas tanker cargo operation.

(27) Vessel Security Officer.

(28) Vessel personnel with designated security duties.

(29) Security awareness.

(30) High-speed craft (HSC) type rating certificate.

§ 10.201 [Amended]

10.Amend § 10.201 as follows:

a. In paragraph (a), remove the words “incorporated by reference in § 10.103” and add, in their place, the words “(incorporated by reference, see § 10.103 of this part)”; and

b. In paragraph (c), remove the words “National Maritime Center or at any Regional Examination Center during usual business hours, or through the mail” and add, in their place, the words “Coast Guard”.

§ 10.205 [Amended]

11.Amend § 10.205 as follows:

a. Revise paragraph (a) to read as set forth below;

b. In paragraph (b), after the words “All endorsements”, add the words “, unless otherwise noted,”;

c. In paragraph (c), remove the word “one” and add, in its place, the numeral “1” and remove the text “§ 10.227(f)” and add, in its place, the text “§ 10.227(h)”;

d. In paragraph (d), after the words “in accordance with § 10.227”, add the words “of this part”; and after the words “becomes invalid”, add the words “unless otherwise noted in paragraph (a) of this section”.

e. Remove paragraph (f), and redesignate paragraphs (g) and (h) as paragraphs (f) and (g), respectively; and

f. Add new paragraph (h) to read as follows:

§ 10.205 Validity of a merchant mariner credential.

(a) An MMC is valid for a term of 5 years from the date of issuance. Except upon the written request for the immediate issuance by the applicant, the Coast Guard will post-date the issuance of an MMC renewal that includes no other transactions up to 8 months from the date that the Coast Guard accepts a complete application as required in this part. If the expiration date of the mariner's active credential is beyond 8 months of the date that the Coast Guard accepts a complete application as required in this part, the new credential issue date will be 8 months from the date of application acceptance at which time the currently active credential will become invalid in accordance with paragraph (d) of this section. Otherwise, the new credential issue validity date will coincide with the expiration date of the active credential held by the mariner. All other MMC transactions will be processed for immediate issuance.

* * * * *

(h) When a Document of Continuity is replaced with an MMC re-issued in accordance with § 10.227 of this part, the Document of Continuity that has been replaced becomes invalid. In the event that not all endorsements on a Document of Continuity are activated, a new Document of Continuity will be issued for the remaining endorsements.

§ 10.207 [Amended]

12.In § 10.207, after the words “a unique serial number,”, add the words “called the mariner reference number,”.

13.Revise § 10.209 to read as follows:

§ 10.209 General application procedures.

(a) The applicant for an MMC, whether for an original, renewal, duplicate, raise of grade, or a new endorsement on a previously issued MMC, must establish that he or she satisfies all the requirements for the MMC and endorsement(s) sought before the Coast Guard will issue the MMC. This section contains the general requirements for all applicants. Additional requirements for duplicates, renewals, new endorsements, and raises of grade appear later in this part.

(b) The Coast Guard may refuse to process an incomplete MMC application. The requirements for a complete application for an original MMC are contained in § 10.225 of this part, the requirements for a renewal MMC application are contained in § 10.227 of this part, the requirements for a duplicate MMC application are contained in § 10.229 of this part, and the requirements for an application for a new endorsement or raise of grade are contained in § 10.231 of this part.

(c) Applications are valid for 12 months from the date that the Coast Guard approves the application.

(d) The application may be submitted in person, by mail, fax, or other electronic means. A complete MMC application, which is described in §§ 10.225, 10.227, 10.229, and 10.231 may include—

(1) The application, consent for National Driver Register (NDR) check, and notarized oath on Coast Guard-furnished forms, and the evaluation fee required by § 10.219 of this part;

(2) The applicant's continuous discharge book, certificate of identification, MMD, MMC, license, STCW endorsement, Certificate of Registry (COR), or, if it has not expired, a photocopy of the credential, including the back and all attachments;

(3) Proof, documented on CG-719K or CG-719K/E, as appropriate, that the applicant passed the applicable vision, hearing, medical, or physical exam as required by subpart C of this part, or an unexpired medical certificate issued by the Coast Guard;

(4) Copies of course completion certificates or other evidence of course completion;

(5) Evidence of sea service, or an accepted substitute for sea service, if required;

(6) For an endorsement as a medical doctor or professional nurse as required in § 11.807 of this subchapter, evidence that the applicant holds a currently valid, appropriate license as physician, surgeon, or registered nurse, issued under the authority of a state or territory of the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or the District of Columbia. Any MMC issued will retain any limitation associated with the medical license;

(7) Any certificates or other supplementary materials required to show that the mariner meets the mandatory requirements for the specific endorsement sought, as established in parts 11, 12 or 13 of this subchapter; and

(8) An open-book exercise, in accordance with § 10.227(e)(1) of this part.

(e) The following requirements must be satisfied before an original or renewal MMC, or new endorsement or a raise of grade added to a previously issued MMC, will be issued. These materials will be added to the individual's record by the Coast Guard:

(1) Determination of safety and suitability. No MMC will be issued as an original or reissued with a new expiration date, and no new officer endorsement will be issued if the applicant fails the criminal record review as set forth in § 10.211 of this part.

(2) NDR review. No MMC will be issued as an original or reissued with a new expiration date, and no new officer endorsement will be issued if the applicant fails the NDR review as set forth in § 10.213 of this part.

(3) Information supplied by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). No MMC or endorsement will be issued until the Coast Guard receives the following information from the applicant's TWIC enrollment: the applicant's fingerprints, FBI number and criminal record (if applicable), photograph, proof of citizenship, or Nationality with proof of legal resident status (if applicable). If the information is not available from TSA, the mariner may be required to visit a Regional Exam Center or a TWIC enrollment center to provide this information.

(f) Upon determining that the applicant satisfactorily meets all requirements for an MMC or an endorsement thereon, the Coast Guard will issue the properly endorsed MMC to the applicant. The Coast Guard will not issue an MMC until it has received proof that the mariner holds a valid TWIC.

(g) When a new MMC is issued, the mariner must return any previously issued and unexpired MMC, license, MMD, COR, or STCW endorsement to the Coast Guard, unless the new MMC is being issued to replace a lost or stolen credential.

(h) No MMC will be issued if the applicant fails a chemical test for dangerous drugs as required in §§ 10.225(b)(5), 10.227(d)(5), and 10.231(c)(6).

(i) Ceremonial licenses. A mariner may obtain a ceremonial license when applying for his or her credential or Document of Continuity.

§ 10.211 [Amended]

14.Amend § 10.211 as follows:

a. Remove the words “table 10.211(g)” wherever they appear and add, in their place, the words “table 1 to § 10.211”;

b. In paragraph (a)(1), after the words “written disclosure of all”, add the word “prior”;

c. In paragraph (d), remove the word “disapproved” and add, in its place, the word “denied”;

d. In paragraph (e), remove the word “disapproved” and add, in its place, the word “denied”; and remove the word “disapproval” and add, in its place, the word “denial”;

e. In paragraph (g), after the words “The Coast Guard will use table 10.211(g)”, add the words “of this section”;

f. In paragraphs (h) and (i), after the words “table 10.211(g)” wherever they appear, add the words “of this section”;

g. In paragraph (j), remove the word “their” in the first sentence and add, in its place, the words “his or her”; and remove the word “disapprove” in the last sentence and add, in its place, the word “deny”; and

h. In paragraph (k), remove the word “their” in the first sentence and add, in its place, the words “his or her”; and after the words “in table 10.211(g)” wherever they appear, add the words “of this section”.

15.Revise § 10.213 to read as follows:

§ 10.213 National Driver Register.

(a) No MMC will be issued as an original or reissued with a new expiration date, and no new officer endorsement will be issued, unless the applicant consents to a check of the NDR for offenses described in section 205(a)(3)(A) or (B) of the NDR Act (i.e., operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of, or impaired by, alcohol or a controlled substance; and any traffic violations arising in connection with a fatal traffic accident, reckless driving, or racing on the highways).

(b) The Coast Guard will not consider NDR-listed civil convictions that are more than 3 years old from the date of request unless that information relates to a current suspension or revocation of the applicant's license to operate a motor vehicle. The Coast Guard may determine minimum and maximum assessment periods for NDR-listed criminal convictions using table 10.213(c) of this section. An applicant conducting simultaneous MMC transactions is subject to only one NDR check.

(c) The guidelines in table 1 to paragraph (c) will be used by the Coast Guard in evaluating applicants who have drug or alcohol related NDR-listed convictions. Non-drug or alcohol related NDR-listed convictions will be evaluated by the Coast Guard under table 1 to § 10.211 of this part as applicable. The Coast Guard may consider non-drug or alcohol related NDR-listed convictions that are more than 3 years old from the date of the request when the information relates to a current suspension or revocation of the applicant's license to operate a motor vehicle.

Table 1 to § 10.213(c)—Guidelines for Evaluating Applicants for MMCs Who Have NDR Motor Vehicle Convictions Involving Dangerous Drugs or Alcohol1 Back to Top
Number of convictions Date of conviction Assessment period
1Any applicant who has ever been the user of, or addicted to the use of, a dangerous drug must meet the requirements of paragraph (f) of this section.
2Suspension or revocation, when referred to in table 10.213, means a State suspension or revocation of a motor vehicle operator's license.
1 Less than 1 year 1 year from date of conviction.
1 More than 1, less than 3 years Application will be processed, unless suspension, or revocation2is still in effect. Applicant will be advised that additional conviction(s) may jeopardize merchant mariner credentials.
1 More than 3 years old Application will be processed.
2 or more Any less than 3 years old 1 year since last conviction and at least 3 years from 2nd most recent conviction, unless suspension or revocation is still in effect.
2 or more All more than 3 years old Application will be processed unless suspension or revocation is still in effect.

(d) Any application may be denied if information from the NDR check leads the Coast Guard to determine that the applicant cannot be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities of the endorsement for which the application is made. If an application is denied, the Coast Guard will notify the applicant in writing of the reason(s) for denial and advise the applicant that the appeal procedures in subpart 1.03 of part 1 of this chapter apply. No examination will be given pending decision on appeal.

(e) Before denying an application because of information received from the NDR, the Coast Guard will make the information available to the applicant for review and written comment. The applicant may submit records from the applicable State concerning driving record and convictions to the Coast Guard processing the application. The Coast Guard will hold an application with NDR-listed convictions pending the completion of the evaluation and delivery by the individual of the underlying State records.

(f) If an applicant has one or more alcohol or dangerous drug-related criminal or NDR-listed convictions, if the applicant has ever been the user of, or addicted to the use of, a dangerous drug, or if the applicant applies before the minimum assessment period for his or her conviction has elapsed, the Coast Guard may consider the following factors, as applicable, in assessing the applicant's suitability to hold an MMC. This list is intended as a guide for the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard may consider other factors which it judges appropriate to a particular applicant, such as—

(1) Proof of completion of an accredited alcohol or drug abuse rehabilitation program;

(2) Active membership in a rehabilitation or counseling group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous;

(3) Character references from persons who can attest to the applicant's sobriety, reliability, and suitability for employment in the merchant marine, including parole or probation officers;

(4) Steady employment; and

(5) Successful completion of all conditions of parole or probation.

§ 10.215 [Removed]

16.Remove § 10.215

17.Revise § 10.217 to read as follows:

§ 10.217 Merchant mariner credential application and examination locations.

(a) Applicants for an MMC may apply to any of the Regional Examination Centers (RECs) or any other location designated by the Coast Guard. Applicants may contact the National Maritime Center at 100 Forbes Drive, Martinsburg, WV 25404, by telephone 1-888-427-5662 or 304-433-3400, or by email at IASKNMC@uscg.mil. A list of locations approved for application submittal is available through the Coast Guard Web site at http://www.uscg.mil/nmc.

(b) Exam Locations. (1) Coast Guard units abroad may conduct exams for ratings at locations other than the RECs, but are not prepared to conduct practical examinations.

(2) The Coast Guard may designate additional exam facilities/locations to provide services to applicants for MMCs.

18.Revise § 10.219 to read as follows:

§ 10.219 Fees.

(a) Use table 1 to § 10.219(a) to calculate the mandatory fees for MMCs and associated endorsements.

Table 1 to § 10.219(a)—Fees Back to Top
If you apply for And you need
Evaluation then the fee is . . . Examination then the fee is . . . Issuance then the fee is . . .
1Upper level means credentials authorizing service on vessels of any gross tons/unlimited tonnage or unlimited propulsion power.
2Lower level means credentials authorizing service on vessels of less than 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT.
3Duplicate for MMC lost as result of marine casualty—No Fee.
4No Fee.
MMC with officer endorsement:      
Original:      
Upper level1 $100 $110 $45
Lower level2 100 95 45
Renewal 50 45 45
Raise of grade 100 45 45
Modification or removal of limitation or scope 50 45 45
Radio officer endorsement:      
Original 50 45 45
Renewal 50 n/a 45
Staff officer endorsements:      
Original 90 n/a 45
Renewal 50 n/a 45
MMC with rating endorsement:      
Original endorsement for ratings other than qualified ratings 95 n/a 45
Original endorsement for qualified rating 95 140 45
Upgrade or raise of Grade 95 140 45
Renewal endorsement for ratings other than qualified ratings 50 n/a 45
Renewal endorsement for qualified rating 50 45 45
Modification or removal of limitation or scope 50 45 45
STCW endorsement:      
Original (4) (4) (4)
Renewal (4) (4) (4)
Reissue, replacement, and duplicate n/a n/a 345

(b) Fee payment procedures. Applicants may pay—

(1) All fees required by this section at the time the application is submitted; or

(2) A fee for each phase as follows:

(i) An evaluation fee when the application is submitted.

(ii) An examination fee before the first examination section is taken.

(iii) An issuance fee before issuance of the MMC.

(c) If the examination is administered at a place other than a Regional Examination Center (REC), the examination fee must be paid to the REC at least one week before the scheduled examination date.

(d) Unless the Coast Guard provides additional payment options, fees must be paid as follows:

(1) Fee payments must be for the exact amount.

(2) Fee payments may be made by electronic payment in a manner specified by the Coast Guard. For information regarding current forms of electronic payment, go to the National Maritime Center's (NMC) Web site, www.uscg.mil/nmc. To assist with the automation of mariner credential applications, applicants are encouraged to pay the fees electronically.

(3) Payments may be made by cash, check, money order, or credit card.

(4) Payments submitted by mail may not be made in cash. Mailed payments should specify the type of credential sought and the type of fee (e.g., evaluation, examination, issuance) being paid. The address for sending payment by mail can be found at the NMC Web site, www.uscg.mil/nmc.

(5) Checks or money orders must be made payable to the U.S. Coast Guard, and the full legal name and last four digits of applicant's social security number must appear on the front of each check or money order.

(e) Unless otherwise specified in this part, when two or more endorsements are processed on the same application the fees will be as follows:

(1) Evaluation fees. If an applicant simultaneously applies for a rating endorsement and a deck or engineer officer's endorsement, only the evaluation fee for the officer's endorsement will be charged. If an applicant simultaneously applies for a staff officer or radio officer endorsement along with the deck or engineer officer endorsement, only the evaluation fee for the deck or engineer officer's endorsement will be charged. No evaluation fee is charged for an STCW endorsement.

(2) Examination fees. One examination fee will be charged for each exam or series of exams for an original, raise of grade, or renewal of an endorsement on an MMC taken within 1 year from the date of the application approval. An examination fee will also be charged to process an open-book exercise used to renew an MMC. If an officer endorsement examination under part 11 of this chapter also fulfills the examination requirements in part 12 of this chapter for rating endorsements, only the fee for the officer endorsement examination is charged.

(3) Issuance fees. Only one issuance fee will be charged for each MMC issued, regardless of the number of endorsements placed on the credential. There is no fee for a Document of Continuity.

(f) The Coast Guard may assess additional charges to anyone to recover collection and enforcement costs associated with delinquent payments or failure to pay a fee. The Coast Guard will not provide credentialing services to a mariner who owes money for credentialing services previously provided.

(g) Anyone who fails to pay a fee or charge established under this section is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of not more than $6,500 for each violation.

(h) No-fee MMC for certain applicants. For the purpose of this section, a no-fee MMC applicant is a person who is a volunteer or a part- or full-time employee of an organization that is—

(1) Charitable in nature;

(2) Not for profit; and

(3) Youth oriented.

(i) Determination of eligibility. (1) An organization may submit a written request to U.S. Coast Guard National Maritime Center, 100 Forbes Drive, Martinsburg, WV 25404, in order to be considered an eligible organization under the criteria set forth in paragraph (h) of this section. With the written request, the organization must provide evidence of its status as a youth-oriented, not-for-profit, charitable organization.

(2) The following organizations are accepted by the Coast Guard as meeting the requirements of paragraph (h) of this section and need not submit evidence of their status: Boy Scouts of America, Sea Explorer Association, Girl Scouts of the United States of America, and Young Men's Christian Association of the United States of America.

(j) A letter from an organization determined eligible under paragraph (h) of this section must also accompany the person's MMC application to the Coast Guard. The letter must state that the purpose of the person's application is solely to further the conduct of the organization's maritime activities. The applicant will then be eligible under this section to obtain a no-fee MMC if other requirements for the MMC are met.

(k) An MMC issued to a person under paragraph (h) of this section will be endorsed restricting its use to vessels owned or operated by the sponsoring organization.

(l) The holder of a no-fee MMC issued under paragraph (h) of this section may have the restriction removed by paying the appropriate evaluation, examination, and issuance fees that would have otherwise applied.

§ 10.221 [Amended]

19.Amend § 10.221 as follows:

a. In paragraph (a)(1), remove the word “part” and add, in its place, the word “subchapter”; and

b. In paragraph (a)(2), remove the section number “§ 12.40-11” and add, in its place, the section number “§ 12.809”.

20.Amend § 10.223 as follows:

a. In paragraphs (c)(3)(i), (c)(3)(ii), and (c)(3)(iii), remove the word “chapter” and add, in its place, the word “subchapter”; and

b. Revise paragraphs (c)(2) and (c)(3)(iv) to read as set forth below.

§ 10.223 Modification or removal of limitations or scope.

* * * * *

(c) * * *

(2) Proof that the mariner either holds a valid TWIC or has applied for a TWIC.

(3) * * *

(iv) The mandatory requirements for STCW endorsements are contained in parts 11, 12, and 13 of this subchapter.

* * * * *

21.Revise § 10.225 to read as follows:

§ 10.225 Requirements for original merchant mariner credentials.

(a) An applicant must apply as an original if the MMC sought is—

(1) The first credential issued to the applicant;

(2) The first credential issued to applicants after their previous credential has expired beyond the grace period and they do not hold a Document of Continuity under § 10.227(g) of this part or an equivalent unexpired continuity endorsement on their license or MMD; or

(3) The first credential issued to applicants after their previous credential was revoked pursuant to § 10.235 of this part.

(b) A complete application for an original MMC must contain the following, except as otherwise noted in § 10.227(i) of this subpart:

(1) A completed, signed application.

(2) Proof that the mariner either holds a valid TWIC or has applied for a TWIC.

(3) All supplementary materials required to show that the mariner meets the mandatory requirements for all endorsements sought as follows:

(i) The mandatory requirements for officer endorsements are contained in part 11 of this subchapter.

(ii) The mandatory requirements for rating endorsements are contained in part 12 of this subchapter.

(iii) The mandatory requirements for tanker rating endorsements are contained in part 13 of this subchapter.

(iv) The mandatory requirements for STCW endorsements are contained in parts 11, 12, and 13 of this subchapter.

(4) The appropriate fee as set forth in § 10.219 of this part.

(5) Evidence of having passed a chemical test for dangerous drugs or of qualifying for an exemption from testing in § 16.220 of this subchapter.

(6) Where sea service is required, documentary evidence in accordance with § 10.232 of this part.

(7) Proof, documented on CG-719-K or CG-719-K/E, as appropriate, that the applicant passed all applicable vision, hearing, medical, and/or physical exams as required by subpart C of this part or a valid medical certificate issued by the Coast Guard.

(8) Consent to a Coast Guard check of the NDR for offenses described in section 205(a)(3)(A) or (B) of the National Driver Register Act of 1982, as amended.

(9) The oath as required in paragraph (c) of this section.

(c) Oath. Every person who receives an original MMC must first take an oath, before an official authorized to give such an oath, that he or she will faithfully and honestly, according to his or her best skill and judgment, without concealment or reservation, perform all the duties required by law and obey all lawful orders of superior officers. An oath may be administered by any Coast Guard-designated individual or any person legally permitted to administer oaths in the jurisdiction where the person taking the oath resides. An oath administered at a location other than the Coast Guard must be verified in writing by the administering official and submitted to the same Regional Examination Center (REC) where the applicant applied for his or her MMC. This oath remains binding for any subsequently issued MMC and endorsements added to the MMC, unless specifically renounced in writing.

22.Revise § 10.227 to read as follows:

§ 10.227 Requirements for renewal.

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (g) of this section, an applicant for renewal of a credential must establish possession of all of the necessary qualifications before the MMC will be renewed.

(b) A credential may be renewed at any time during its validity and for 1 year after expiration.

(c) No credential will be renewed if it has been suspended without probation or revoked as a result of action under part 5 of this chapter or if facts that would render a renewal improper have come to the attention of the Coast Guard.

(d) Except as provided in paragraph (g) of this section, a complete application for renewal must contain the following:

(1) A completed, signed application.

(2) Proof that the mariner either holds a valid TWIC or has applied for a TWIC.

(3)The appropriate fee as set forth in § 10.219 of this part.

(4) Any uncanceled MMD, MMC, license, STCW endorsement, Certificate of Registry (COR), or Document of Continuity held by the applicant. If one or more of these credentials are still valid at the time of application, a photocopy—front, back, and all attachments—will satisfy this requirement.

(5) Evidence of having passed a chemical test for dangerous drugs or of qualifying for an exemption from testing in § 16.220 of this subchapter.

(6) Applicants seeking a national endorsement must either hold an unexpired medical certificate or submit a medical certificate application.

(7) Consent to a Coast Guard check of the NDR for offenses described in section 205(a)(3)(A) or (B) of the National Driver Register Act of 1982, as amended.

(e) Except as provided in paragraph (e)(8) of this section and 46 CFR 13.120, the applicant must meet the following professional requirements for renewal:

(1) The applicant must either—

(i) Present evidence of at least 1 year of sea service during the past 5 years;

(ii) Pass a comprehensive, open-book exercise covering the general subject matter contained in appropriate sections of subpart (I) of this part;

(iii) Complete an approved refresher training course;

(iv) Provide evidence of employment as a qualified instructor or in a position closely related to the operation, construction, or repair of vessels (either deck or engineer as appropriate) for at least 3 years during the past 5 years. An applicant for a deck license or officer endorsement with this type of employment must also demonstrate knowledge on an applicable Rules of the Road open-book exercise; or

(v) Provide evidence of being a qualified instructor who has taught a Coast Guard-approved or -accepted course relevant to the endorsement or credential being applied for, at least twice within the past 5 years, therefore meeting the standards needed to receive a course completion certificate for that course.

(2) The qualification requirements for renewal of radar observer endorsement as contained in § 11.480 of this subchapter.

(3) Additional qualification requirements for renewal of an officer endorsement as first-class pilot as contained in § 11.713 of this subchapter.

(4) An applicant for renewal of a radio officer's endorsement must, in addition to meeting the requirements of this section, present a copy of a currently valid license as first- or second-class radiotelegraph operator issued by the Federal Communications Commission.

(5) An applicant for renewal of an endorsement as medical doctor or professional nurse must, in addition to meeting the requirements of this section, present evidence that he or she holds a currently valid, appropriate license as physician, surgeon, or registered nurse issued under the authority of a State or territory of the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or the District of Columbia. Any such renewal will retain the limitations placed upon the medical license by the issuing body. There are no professional requirements for renewal of an endorsement as marine physician assistant or hospital corpsman.

(6) An applicant for renewal of an endorsement as master or mate (pilot) of towing vessels, in addition to the other requirements in this paragraph, must also submit satisfactory evidence of—

(i) Having completed a practical demonstration of maneuvering and handling a towing vessel to the satisfaction of a designated examiner; or

(ii) Ongoing participation in training and drills during the validity of the license or MMC being renewed.

(7) An applicant seeking to renew a tankerman endorsement must meet the additional requirements listed in § 13.120 of this subchapter.

(8) There are no professional requirements for renewal for the following endorsements:

(i) Staff officers (all types).

(ii) Ordinary seaman.

(iii) Wiper.

(iv) Steward's department.

(v) Steward's department (F.H.).

(vi) Cadet.

(vii) Student observer.

(viii) Apprentice engineer.

(ix) Apprentice mate (issued under part 12 of this subchapter).

(x) Person in charge of medical care.

(xi) Medical first-aid provider.

(xii) GMDSS at-sea maintainer.

(xiii) GMDSS operator.

(f) Except as otherwise provided, each candidate for a renewal of an STCW endorsement must meet the applicable requirements of part 11, subpart C, and/or part 12, subpart F.

(g) Document of Continuity. (1) Applicants for renewal of national endorsements, who are unwilling or otherwise unable to meet the requirements of paragraph (d) of this section, including but not limited to the medical and physical standards of subpart C of this part, suitability standards of § 10.211 of this part, drug tests, professional requirements, and TWIC, may apply for a Document of Continuity issued by the Coast Guard. Documents of Continuity do not expire and are issued solely to maintain an individual's eligibility for renewal. A Document of Continuity does not entitle an individual to serve as a merchant mariner. A holder of a Document of Continuity may obtain a properly endorsed, valid MMC at any time by satisfying the requirements for renewal as provided in paragraphs (d), (e), or (f) of this section as applicable. When a valid MMC is issued to replace a previously held Document of Continuity, the previously issued Document of Continuity becomes void.

(2) Applications for a Document of Continuity must include the following:

(i) The endorsements to be placed into continuity.

(ii) An application including a signed statement from the applicant attesting to an awareness of the limited purpose of the Document of Continuity, his or her inability to serve, and the requirements to obtain an MMC.

(3) If not all MMC endorsements are to be converted into a Document of Continuity, a new MMC will be issued with the active endorsements. Once the new MMC and/or Document of Continuity is issued the previous MMC is no longer valid and must be returned to the Coast Guard.

(4) STCW endorsements may not be placed in continuity. If an individual continues to maintain a valid MMC while placing specific national endorsements into continuity, those STCW endorsements associated with the national endorsements that were placed in continuity are no longer valid.

(5) No credential expired beyond the 12-month administrative grace period in paragraph (h) of this section can be converted into a Document of Continuity.

(6) A holder of a Document of Continuity may obtain a properly endorsed, valid MMC, including STCW endorsements, at any time by satisfying the requirements for renewal as provided in paragraphs (d) and (f) of this section.

(h) Administrative grace period. A credential may be renewed up to 12 months after expiration. For a credential to be re-issued by the Coast Guard more than 12 months after its expiration, an applicant must comply with the requirements of paragraph (i) of this section. When an applicant's credential expires during a time of service with the Armed Forces and there is no reasonable opportunity for renewal, including by mail, this period may be extended. The period of military service following the date of expiration which precluded renewal may be added to the 12-month grace period. The 12-month grace period and any extensions do not affect the expiration date of the credential. A license, MMD, COR, STCW endorsement, MMC, and any endorsements thereon, are not valid for use after the expiration date.

(i) Re-issuance of expired credentials. (1) If an applicant applies for re-issuance of an endorsement as deck officer, engineer officer, or qualified rating more than 12 months after its expiration, instead of the requirements of paragraph (e) of this section, the applicant must demonstrate continued professional knowledge by completing a course approved for this purpose, or by passing the complete examination for original issue of the endorsement. The examination may be oral-assisted if the expired credential was awarded based on the results of an oral exam. The fees set forth in § 10.219 of this part apply to these examinations. In the case of an expired radio officer's endorsement, the endorsement may be issued upon presentation of a valid first- or second-class radiotelegraph operator license issued by the Federal Communications Commission.

(2) An endorsement for chief purser, purser, senior assistant purser, junior assistant purser, hospital corpsman, marine physician assistant, medical doctor, or professional nurse that has been expired for more than 12 months must be renewed in the same way as a current endorsement of that type. There are no additional requirements for re-issuing endorsements for chief purser, purser, senior assistant purser, junior assistant purser, hospital corpsman, marine physician assistant, medical doctor, or professional nurse that have been expired for more than 12 months.

(3) Applicants applying for re-issuance of an endorsement as master or mate (pilot) of towing vessels more than 12 months after expiration of the previous endorsement must complete the practical demonstration of maneuvering and handling a towing vessel required under (e)(6)(i) of this section.

(4) Applicants applying for re-issuance of an endorsement as any tankerman rating more than 12 months after expiration of the previous endorsement must meet the requirements in § 13.117 of this subchapter.

23.Amend § 10.229 as follows:

a. Revise the section heading to read as set forth below;

b. Revise paragraph (a) to read as set forth below;

c. In paragraph (b), in the first sentence, after the words “The duplicate”, add the word “credential” and remove the second sentence;

d. In paragraph (c), after the words “a duplicate”, add the word “credential”; and

e. In paragraph (d), after the words “the appropriate fees set out in § 10.219”, add the words “of this part”.

§ 10.229 Replacement of lost merchant mariner credentials.

(a) Upon request and without examination, a mariner may be issued a duplicate credential and medical certificate after submitting an application with an affidavit describing the circumstances of the loss. The Coast Guard will only issue the duplicate credential, MMC and/or medical certificate, after confirming the validity of the mariner's credentials and the validity of the mariner's TWIC.

* * * * *

24.Revise § 10.231 to read as follows:

§ 10.231 Requirements for raises of grade or new endorsements.

(a) This section applies to applicants who already hold a valid credential and want to make either of the following transactions:

(1) Add a new endorsement.

(2) Obtain a raise of grade of an existing endorsement.

(b) If an applicant for new endorsement or raise of grade meets the renewal requirements under § 10.227 of this subpart for every endorsement listed on the MMC and requests renewal, the applicant will receive a credential valid for 5 years. When an applicant does not meet the renewal requirements for every endorsement held, the applicant's new endorsement will be issued with the expiration date that is the same as the current MMC.

(c) A complete application for a new endorsement or raise of grade must contain the following:

(1) A completed, signed application.

(2) Proof that the mariner either holds a valid TWIC or has applied for a TWIC.

(3) All supplementary materials required to show that the mariner meets the mandatory requirements for the new endorsements sought as follows:

(i) The mandatory requirements for officer endorsements as contained in part 11 of this subchapter and paragraph (d) of this section.

(ii) The mandatory requirements for rating endorsements as contained in part 12 of this subchapter.

(iii) The mandatory requirements for tankerman rating endorsements are contained in part 13 of this subchapter.

(iv) The mandatory requirements for STCW endorsements as contained in parts 11, 12, and 13 of this subchapter.

(4) The appropriate fee as contained in § 10.219 of this part.

(5) Any uncanceled MMD, MMC, license, STCW endorsement, or COR held by the applicant. If one or more of these credentials are still valid at the time of application, a photocopy—front, back, and all attachments—will satisfy this requirement.

(6) Applicants for the following endorsements must produce evidence of having passed a chemical test for dangerous drugs or of qualifying for an exemption from testing in § 16.220 of this subchapter:

(i) Any officer endorsement.

(ii) The first endorsement as able seaman, lifeboatman, lifeboatman-limited, qualified member of the engine department, or tankerman.

(7) Where sea service is required, documentary evidence in accordance with § 10.232 of this part.

(8) Applicants seeking a new endorsement must either hold an unexpired medical certificate or submit a medical certificate application.

(9) Consent to a Coast Guard check for offenses described in section 205(a)(3)(A) or (B) of the National Driver Register Act of 1982, as amended.

(d) Additional requirements for an applicant seeking a raise of grade of an officer endorsement are as follows:

(1) Sea service acquired before the issuance of an officer endorsement is generally not accepted as any part of the service required for a raise of grade of that endorsement. However, service acquired before issuance of an officer endorsement will be accepted for certain crossovers, endorsements, or increases in scope of an MMC, as appropriate. In the limited tonnage categories for deck officers, total accumulated service is a necessary criterion for most raises of grade; therefore, service acquired before the issuance of such officer endorsements will be accepted.

(2) An applicant remains eligible for a raise of grade while on probation as a result of action under part 5 of this chapter. A raise of grade issued to a person on probation will be subject to the same probationary conditions imposed against his or her other credentials. The offense for which he or she was placed on probation will be considered on the merits of the case in determining fitness to hold the endorsement applied for. No applicant will be examined for a raise of grade during any period when a suspension without probation or a revocation imposed under part 5 of this chapter is effective against his or her credential or while an appeal from these actions is pending.

(3) Professional examination. (i) When the Coast Guard finds an applicant's experience and training for raise of grade is satisfactory, and the applicant is eligible in all other respects, the Coast Guard will authorize a professional examination.

(ii) Oral-assisted examinations may be administered in accordance with § 11.201(j) of this subchapter.

(iii) The general instructions for administration of examinations and the lists of subjects for all endorsements are found in part 11, subpart I; part 12, subpart E; and part 13, subpart A of this subchapter.

25.Add § 10.232 to read as follows:

§ 10.232 Sea service.

(a) Documenting sea service. (1) Sea service may be documented in various forms such as certificates of discharge, pilotage service and billing forms, and service letters or other official documents from marine companies signed by the owner, operator, master, or chief engineer of the vessel. The Coast Guard must be satisfied as to the authenticity and acceptability of all evidence of experience or training presented.

(2) Documentary evidence produced by the applicant, unless in the form of a Certificate of Discharge conforming to § 14.307 of this subchapter, must contain all of the following information:

(i) Vessel name(s) and official numbers listed on the registration, certificate, or document issued.

(ii) Gross tonnage of the vessel.

(iii) Propulsion power and mode of propulsion of the vessel.

(iv) The amount and nature (e.g. chief mate, assistant engineer, etc.) of the applicant's experience.

(v) Applicable dates of service for each vessel, and the ports or terminals if applicable.

(vi) The routes upon which the experience was acquired.

(vii) For those seeking service credit on towing vessels in accordance with § 11.211(e) of this subchapter, the aggregate tonnage of the tug and barges during the mariner's service.

(viii) Any other information necessary to determine the applicability of STCW to the vessel.

(ix) Whether the vessel is manned and equipped in accordance with SOLAS.

(x) Where required for an officer endorsement, time served as bridge watchkeeping or engine watchkeeping duties under the supervision of a qualified officer.

(3) An MMC endorsement, in certain cases, may be considered as satisfactory evidence of any qualifying experience for obtaining other endorsements.

(4) For service on vessels of less than 200 GRT, owners of vessels may attest to their own service and provide proof of ownership. Those who do not own a vessel must obtain letters or other evidence from licensed personnel or the owners of the vessels listed.

(5) If the required sea service is associated with watchkeeping functions and the performance of duties, as required in §§ 11.323, 11.329, and 11.333, the service must be documented as having been carried out under the direct supervision of the appropriate person. If the required sea service is associated with the performance of duties, as required in §§ 11.470, 11.472, and 11.474, the service must be documented as having been carried out under the supervision of the appropriate person.

(6) An applicant who has been acting as a pilot may submit a letter from a pilot's association attesting to the applicant's sea service. Pilots not part of an association may submit other relevant records indicating service, such as billing forms. For a raise-of-grade, pilots must comply with the requirements of paragraph (a)(2) of this section.

(b) Service toward an oceans, near-coastal, or STCW endorsement will be credited as follows:

(1) Service on the Great Lakes will be credited on a day-for-day basis up to 100 percent of the total required service.

(2) Service on inland waters, other than Great Lakes, that are navigable waters of the United States, will be credited on a day-for-day basis for up to 50 percent of the total required service.

(3) Service on vessels to which STCW applies, whether inland or coastwise, will be credited on a day-for-day basis. For establishing credit for sea service, the waters of the Inside Passage between Puget Sound and Cape Spencer, Alaska will be credited for a near-coastal and STCW endorsement.

(c) Service toward a near-coastal or a Great Lakes endorsement will be credited on a day-for-day basis and in a