US relaxes radar refresher course rule

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche
ShipInsight

10 June 2019


The US Coast Guard (USCG) has published a final rule and policy letter announcing revisions to its merchant mariner credentialing regulations on radar observer requirements.

The move comes as the USCG is revising its merchant mariner credentialing regulations to remove obsolete portions of the radar observer requirements and harmonise the radar observer endorsement with the merchant mariner credential. These revisions will reduce an unnecessary financial burden on mariners required to hold a radar observer endorsement.

The final rule affects mariners who have served on radar-equipped vessels in a position that routinely uses radar for one year in the previous five years for navigation and collision avoidance purposes, and mariners who have taught a Coast Guard-approved or accepted radar course at least twice within the past five years. These mariners will no longer be required to complete a Coast Guard-approved or accepted radar refresher or re-certification course in order to renew their radar observer endorsements.

The Coast Guard is retaining the existing requirements for mariners seeking an original radar observer endorsement and for mariners who do not have one year of routine relevant sea service on board radar-equipped vessels in the previous five years or have not taught a Coast Guard-approved or accepted radar course at least twice within the past five years.

To accompany the final rule, the Office of Merchant Mariner Credentialing published a policy letter to provide guidance for renewal of endorsements as Radar Observer Unlimited, Inland, & Rivers. The Coast Guard will use 46 CFR 11.480 and Policy Letter 03-19 as guidance when evaluating whether mariners have qualified to renew a radar observer endorsement.