A step forward for mariners

In June, the Coast Guard published a final rule that eliminated the requirement for marine radar refresher training. This issue had been discussed on the inland rivers for a long time.

It represents a big step forward, eliminating an obsolete and unnecessary requirement for experienced mariners. The final rule also harmonizes the radar observer endorsement with the merchant marine credential.

In its comments submitted last summer, the Passenger Vessel Association (PVA) agreed with the Coast Guard that refresher training is not needed when a mariner has practical on-the-water experience using radar on a regular basis. PVA also agreed with the Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee’s (MERPAC) position that this regulatory change would not negatively affect safety.

Over the years, PVA and many others in the maritime industry have pointed to the negative effects of regulation on small business. I was pleased to learn that the Coast Guard’s analysis of this regulation estimated that the annualized total cost savings will be about $6.8 million, and over 7,000 mariners will benefit from this rule each year.

I am a big believer in on-the-job training, especially when it pertains to navigation, electronics in the pilothouse, deckhand training, and emergency situations. Once a mariner has a radar endorsement, there is no substitute for real time experience to stay up to date.

Safety and training are at the core of what my company, BB Riverboats, does. Not only do we conduct the training that is necessary to meet Coast Guard regulations, but we believe that we have a responsibility to exceed regulations to protect the safety of our passengers and crew. One accident is one too many.

My company ensures that the core competencies that are necessary for mariners to navigate safely are common practice. While this recent regulatory change has eliminated the need for radar refresher training, our mariners will have the necessary training and experience.

I commend the Coast Guard for eliminating the requirement for radar refresher training. In the future, I hope that they can target other regulations for elimination to lessen the regulatory burden on operators and mariners.

About the author

Capt. Alan Bernstein

Alan Bernstein, owner of BB Riverboats in Cincinnati, is a licensed master and a former president of the Passenger Vessel Association. He can be reached at 859-292-2449 or abernstein@bbriverboats.com.

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