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Licensing Requirements

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Old 12-29-2006, 12:37 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 770
Default Licensing Requirements

There have been some discussions about the requirements for obtaining a "mate's" license (there will no longer be pilot licenses..the Coast Guard has opted for the blue water jargon of Mate) under the new requirements of the USCG. Jim Blum please step in here and correct me if I am wrong.
When I retired in September I understood that under the new requirements a license candidate had to have 3 years of deck experience. Classroom time in approved courses, such as those at an Academy or University such as river courses being offed at Marshall University in Huntington, will count in lieu of actual time on deck.
While the candidate is acquiring his/her deck time that candidate must complete approved courses in first aid, CPR, fire fighting and radar school. Once the candidate completes his/her deck time, he/she must present proof that time was actually served. A simple letter from a company official or licensed officer is no longer acceptable. Time served must be documented in a form such as a daily log which must be signed by a licensed officer.
The candidate must pass a physical examination. The physical is getting much harder to pass. The new examination, as I understand it, covers 28 medical questions whereas the old form had 12.
Once the candidate presents his credentials to the Coast Guard, he must go through an extensive background check. A mistake made by an 18 year old boy, may keep a 30 year old man from getting a license. It's like a Coast Guard inspector told me, "The state may wipe out a drunken driving conviction in five years, the US Government never forgets".
Once all the paper work is approved, the candidate takes the written test. If he/she passes the test, he/she is issued a "learners" permit or provisional license.
Under the "learners permit" the candidate must spend another year in the pilothouse in a steersman program. Upon completing the years steersmean program, the candidate must demonstrate his ability in front of a Coast Guard certified examiner. If the candidate passes all this he/she is issued a Mates License.
To say that someone could start steering a commercial vessel without any practical experience is just not true.
These tighter requirements may cripple the river industry, especially the harbor services. It is just not practical for a young person seeking to drive a harbor boat to have the same licensing requirements as a Lower Mississippi pilot. The harbor services have formed an association to appeal to the Coast Guard to waive some of these requirements.
On top of all that, licensing will no longer be done in local offices, it will be centralized in a yet to be built office in W. Virginia.
In order to pilot a commercial vessel, it will take a lot of time, money, excellent physical condition, and no blackmarks in a persons background.
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