Certification of operators is a flag state matter but different categories of operator are recognised and the requirements for each contained in article 47 of the ITU Radio Regulations. Some of the categories in the ITU regulations cover non-SOLAS vessels and only four relate specifically to most commercial ships. These four categories of certificates which are also part of GMDSS rules are shown in descending order of requirements are:-
- First-class radio electronic certificate.
- Second-class radio electronic certificate.
- General operator’s certificate (GOC).
- Restricted operator’s certificate (ROC).
An operator meeting the requirements of a certificate automatically meets all of the requirements of lower order certificates. Holders of the first two certificates are capable of both operational and maintenance/repair roles while those holding the last two certificate types are considered as operators only. Most ships must have two or more crew holding GOCs with the ROCs only recognised for ships limited to coastal service.
Courses leading to certification are offered at many marine schools and other training establishments but not all will be recognised by all flag states. Crewing departments should ascertain whether a certificate will be recognised before allocating crew to ships and seafarers will also need to check if a certificate from a training establishment is recognised by the state issuing his certificate of competency.