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USCG has published their long awaited Radar Observer Final Rule.

The Coast Guard published the final rule titled “Amendments to the Marine Radar Observer Refresher Training Regulations.” The rule amends the requirements for renewal of a radar observer endorsement for mariners who have at least one year (360 days) of relevant service in the previous five years or have taught a Coast Guard approved or accepted radar course at least twice within the past five years.

The final rule is effective July 22, 2019 and can be found in the Federal Register at Amendments to the Marine Radar Observer Refresher Training Regulations, 84 Fed. Reg. 26580 (June 7, 2019). Associated CG-MMC Policy Letter 03-19 provides guidance for renewal of endorsements as Radar Observer (Unlimited), Radar Observer (Inland), and Radar Observer (Rivers). The Policy Letter can be found here.

The most significant change in the new rule is the Coast Guard eliminates the requirement that a mariner actively using their MMC complete an approved or accepted refresher or recertification course to maintain a radar observer endorsement. A mariner who serves in a relevant position on board a radar-equipped vessel for 1 year in the previous 5 years will no longer be required to complete a Coast Guard approved or accepted radar refresher or re-certification course per 46 CFR11.480 to renew his or her radar observer endorsement.

This rule also eliminates the requirement to carry a certificate of training if the radar observer endorsement is on the MMC, and allows the radar endorsement and MMC to expire at the same time.

Specifically under the new rule (and policy) to renew a radar observer endorsement, a mariner must provide evidence of ONE of the following:

  1. Completing an appropriate approved or accepted original, refresher, or recertification course (46 CFR 11.480(d));
  2. Meeting the requirements in 46 CFR 10.227(e)(1)(v) of having instructed a Coast Guard approved or accepted radar course at least twice within the past five years (46 CFR 11.480(f));
  3. Having at least one year of relevant sea service within the last five years in a position that routinely uses radar for navigation and collision avoidance purposes (46 CFR 11.480(g)).

Mariners will be considered to have met the requirement in 46 CFR 11.480(g) for relevant service routinely using radar for navigation or collision avoidance if they have at least one year of service as master or mate in the previous five years on vessels that are required to be fitted with radar. The policy letter provides a list of specific vessels/tonnages to which this provision applies.

Mariners who have served on vessels other than those required to be fitted with radar and listed in the policy letter, or in capacities other than master or mate should provide documentation of their relevant service on a vessel equipped with radar in a position in which they routinely used radar for navigation and collision avoidance purposes.

Service on vessels that do not get underway or occasionally get underway for short voyages (such as vessels in reduced operating status (ROS)) will only be credited for days the vessel was underway.

Mariners who cannot meet the relevant service requirements must provide evidence of having completed an approved or accepted original, recertification, or refresher course appropriate to the radar observer endorsement being renewed within five years of application submission.

STAR Center will be monitoring and adjusting the scheduled offering of radar recertification courses to reflect the reduced demand as a result of this rule change.