STCW Final Rule not final

When I was eight years old, while taking a bath, I unscrewed the stainless steel top of the shower pull, put it in my mouth, and promptly swallowed it. When I ran downstairs and told my parents, my mother said, “Oh, Kenny!” What my father said is unprintable.

I’ve spent the last several weeks researching the hundreds of pages that make up the U.S. Coast Guard’s Final Rule “Implementation of the Amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978 (STCW), as Amended, and Changes to National Endorsements,” and the supporting materials that go along with it for a story I am working on for the April issue of WorkBoat.

Guess which one was easier to digest — the STCW amendments or the shower pull top?

I’m not questioning the Coast Guard’s good intentions in issuing the amendments or the Herculean effort it’s undertaken to increase safety proficiency among the ranks of U.S. mariners who fall under its auspices. The execution of the plan is something else entirely. I’ve already written about the problem I think the USCG has in communicating with the rank and file mariners, so I won’t revisit that. Suffice to say that it’s hard to read Coast Guard jargon. But how can the agency refer to anything as “Final” when it needs up to 26 Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circulars (NVIC), of which only nine have been published, to provide guidance on the issuance of STCW endorsements under the new regulations?

Richard Wells at the Offshore Marine Service Association in New Orleans has been tracking the new regulations since they were announced back in 2010. “The Final Rule came out Christmas Eve, so we’re 60-plus days out, and I wouldn’t say I understand all the rules of the game. It’s way too early for that.” Wells has several questions into the Coast Guard concerning the Final Rule for which he is awaiting answers.

Holly Chetta owns and operates a consulting firm in New Orleans called Mariners World Central that helps mariners put together their credentials and license packages. She thinks it’s going to be good for the mariner in the long run, “but it’s impossible to say to what degree right now because there is so much that we don’t know.”

With the help of Wells, Chetta and the Coast Guard, I’ve tried to put together a news article that will shed some additional light on the subject, so check out the April issue of WorkBoat and see what you think.

And good luck. I tried my best.

About the author

Ken Hocke

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.

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