Coast Guard Issues STCW Policy Letters


November 2012


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The U.S. Coast Guard on Oct. 15 posted three policy letters offering guidance to mariners and ships that must comply with the STCW Convention. Individual links to the full announcement and the individual letters are available on the agency’s National Maritime Center website at:


Both the SIU and its affiliated Paul Hall Center are working closely with the Coast Guard to help ensure a smooth transition to the 2010 amendments, particularly when it comes to course approval guidelines, some of which will be further clarified.


Each of the recently issued policy letters includes a disclaimer that reads in part, “This guidance is not a substitute for applicable legal requirements, nor is it itself a regulation. It is not intended to, nor does it, impose legally-binding requirements on any party. It represents the Coast Guard’s current thinking on this topic. You can use an alternative approach if the approach satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes and regulations.”


The eight-page letter titled “Hours of Rest Policy” notes that new minimum rest periods for “every person assigned duty as officer in charge of a navigational or engineering watch, or duty as a ratings forming part of a navigational or engineering watch, or designated safety, prevention of pollution, and security duties onboard any vessel that operates beyond the boundary line” consist of “a minimum of 10 hours … in any 24-hour period, and 77 hours … in any 7-day period,” though there are exceptions.


The letter titled “Security Endorsements Policy” is seven pages, and it covers “issuance of endorsements and approval of training for Vessel Personnel with Designated Security Duties (VPDSD) and vessel personnel requiring security awareness training.”


The 17-page letter titled “Endorsements and Training Approval Policy” points out that the most recent STCW amendments “establish new endorsements, and revise other existing endorsements. Consistent with these changes, upon publication of this policy letter, the Coast Guard will begin issuing endorsements for the following: Able Seafarer-Deck (AS-D), Able Seafarer-Engine (AS-E). These endorsements correspond to the domestic rating endorsements of Able Seaman and Qualified Member of the Engine Department (QMED)…. The 2010 amendments to STCW also revise the requirements for endorsements for personnel serving on oil, chemical, and liquefied gas tank vessels. The Coast Guard will make changes to the verbiage of the STCW endorsements that are currently being issued, and expand the scope of mariners who may qualify for STCW endorsements for service on tank vessels.”



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