STCW amendments take effect 

The U.S. Coast Guard’s amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) have begun to take effect. The agency’s final rule was published in December 2013 and in late January the new medical certificate requirements became effective. All merchant marine credentialed mariners who hold an STCW endorsement should have a medical certificate by March 24, 2014. The certificate must be renewed every two years for pilots and mariners serving on vessels that fall under the final STCW. (All other mariners have to have their medical certificate renewed every five years.) “Mariners with certain medical conditions may receive a time limited certificate,” the Final Rule says. “Medically related restrictions and operational limitations will only be reflected on the medical certificate, no longer on the MMC.” Jan. 1, 2017, is the date for full compliance with STCW requirements and March 24, 2019, is the date that the transition period ends for national endorsements. In addition, the Coast Guard has issued several Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circulars (NVIC) that provide guidance on the issuance of STCW endorsements under its recently released regulations. The endorsements relate to proficiency in survival craft and rescue boats (NVIC 04-14), fast rescue boats (NVIC 05-14), ratings forming part of a navigational watch (RFPNW, NVIC 06-14), ratings forming part of an engineering watch (RFPEW, NVIC 07-14) and advanced firefighting (NVIC 09-14).