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Unified Agenda 1625-AA16

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


The International Maritime Organization (IMO) comprehensively amended the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW) for Seafarers, 1978, in 1995 and 2010. The 1995 amendments came into force on February 1, 1997. This project implements those amendments by revising current rules to ensure that the United States complies with their requirements on: The training of merchant mariners, the documenting of their qualifications, and watch-standing and other arrangements aboard seagoing merchant ships of the United States. In addition, the Coast Guard has identified the need for additional changes to the interim rule issued in 1997. This project supports the Coast Guard's broad role and responsibility of maritime safety. It also supports the roles and responsibilities of the Coast Guard of reducing deaths and injuries of crew members on domestic merchant vessels and eliminating substandard vessels from the navigable waters of the United States.

The Coast Guard published an NPRM on November 17, 2009, and Supplemental NPRMs (SNPRM) on March 23, 2010 and August 1, 2011.

At a June 2010 diplomatic conference, the IMO adopted additional amendments to the STCW convention which change the minimum training requirements for seafarers. In response to feedback and to the adoption of those amendments, the Coast Guard developed a second Supplemental NPRM to incorporate the 2010 Amendments into the 1990 interim rule.

Statement of need

The Coast Guard proposed to amend its regulations to implement changes to its interim rule published on June 26, 1997. These proposed amendments go beyond changes found in the interim rule and seek to more fully incorporate the requirements of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, as amended (STCW), in the requirements for the credentialing of United States merchant mariners. The new changes are primarily substantive and: (1) Are necessary to continue to give full and complete effect to the STCW Convention; (2) Incorporate lessons learned from implementation of the STCW through the interim rule and through policy letters and NVICs; and (3) Attempt to clarify regulations that have generated confusion.

Legal Basis

The authority for the Coast Guard to prescribe, change, revise, or amend these regulations is provided under 46 U.S.C. 2103 and 46 U.S.C. chapters 71 and 73; and Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1.


For each proposed change, the Coast Guard has considered various alternatives. We considered using policy statements, but they are not enforceable. We also considered taking no action, but this does not support the Coast Guard's fundamental safety and security mission. Additionally, we considered comments made during our 1997 rulemaking to formulate our alternatives. When we analyzed issues, such as license progression and tonnage equivalency, the alternatives chosen were those that most closely met the requirements of STCW.

Costs and Benefits

In the SNPRM, we estimated the annualized cost of this rule over a 10-year period to be $32.8 million per year at a 7 percent discount rate. We estimate the total 10-year cost of this rulemaking to be $230.7 million at a 7 percent discount rate.

The changes in anticipated costs since the publication of 2009 NPRM are due to the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention: Medical examinations and endorsements, leadership and management skills, engine room management training, tankerman endorsements, safety refresher training, and able seafarer deck and engine certification requirements. However, there would be potential savings from the costs of training requirements as the Coast Guard would accept various methods for demonstrating competence, including the on-the-job training and preservation of the "hawsepipe" programs.

We anticipate the primary benefit of this rulemaking is to ensure that the U.S. meets its obligations under the STCW Convention. Another benefit is an increase in vessel safety and a resulting decrease in the risk of shipping casualties.


No risks.


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


  • Mark Gould
    Project Manager, CG-OES-1
    Phone 202 372-1409
    2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE., STOP 7509,
    Washington DC 20593-7509

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