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Old 13-01-2012, 00:59   #1
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What Licence to Captain a Large Ship ?

At my home port there are always many huge coal carriers waiting their turn to enter port and load. Many of these seem to have captains and crew from third world countries. Just out of curiosity, what qualifications do they need to do this and who issues the licences?
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Old 13-01-2012, 02:07   #2
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Re: What licence to captain a large ship ?

A very complex situation. Basically all officers and crew qualifications (including Australian, US, UK etc) are required to comply with an international standard called STCW '95. IMO audits compliance for this and countries which meet this requirement go on the 'white list'. Unfortunately that is where it all falls apart because STCW'95 is a very basic starting point and the quality of knowledge and teaching in the various schools around the world varies widely. On top of that once a person is qualified their national certification then has to be approved by the flag state of the vessel they are sailing on. This is usually a rubber stamp exercise. Basically though to get the qualifications to command a large ship would take several years of college time as well as a stipulated amount of sea-time (in my day and for the UK 30 months but I believe it is less now) with numerous pass / fail examinations along the way. Theoretically STCW'95 was supposed to make everybody the same but from my admittedly jaundiced view we seem to have reached a point where the lowest common denominator has come into play and many seaman have qualifications that theoretically entitles them to do the job but in actuality they are sadly lacking.
At this point i'll stop, as I am in danger of descending to being a grumpy Old Man having a rant.
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Old 13-01-2012, 03:18   #3
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Re: What licence to captain a large ship ?

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Originally Posted by SteveT View Post
A very complex situation. Basically all officers and crew qualifications (including Australian, US, UK etc) are required to comply with an international standard called STCW '95. IMO audits compliance for this and countries which meet this requirement go on the 'white list'. Unfortunately that is where it all falls apart because STCW'95 is a very basic starting point and the quality of knowledge and teaching in the various schools around the world varies widely. On top of that once a person is qualified their national certification then has to be approved by the flag state of the vessel they are sailing on. This is usually a rubber stamp exercise. Basically though to get the qualifications to command a large ship would take several years of college time as well as a stipulated amount of sea-time (in my day and for the UK 30 months but I believe it is less now) with numerous pass / fail examinations along the way. Theoretically STCW'95 was supposed to make everybody the same but from my admittedly jaundiced view we seem to have reached a point where the lowest common denominator has come into play and many seaman have qualifications that theoretically entitles them to do the job but in actuality they are sadly lacking.
At this point i'll stop, as I am in danger of descending to being a grumpy Old Man having a rant.

Well, thanks Steve, saved me from writing the same thing, even including the grumpy Old Man bit, writing this on the bridge of a UK flagged ship being the only native UK citizen amongst the navigation dept
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Old 13-01-2012, 03:52   #4
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Re: What licence to captain a large ship ?

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A very complex situation. Basically all officers and crew qualifications (including Australian, US, UK etc) are required to comply with an international standard called STCW '95. IMO audits compliance for this and countries which meet this requirement go on the 'white list'. Unfortunately that is where it all falls apart because STCW'95 is a very basic starting point and the quality of knowledge and teaching in the various schools around the world varies widely. On top of that once a person is qualified their national certification then has to be approved by the flag state of the vessel they are sailing on. This is usually a rubber stamp exercise. Basically though to get the qualifications to command a large ship would take several years of college time as well as a stipulated amount of sea-time (in my day and for the UK 30 months but I believe it is less now) with numerous pass / fail examinations along the way. Theoretically STCW'95 was supposed to make everybody the same but from my admittedly jaundiced view we seem to have reached a point where the lowest common denominator has come into play and many seaman have qualifications that theoretically entitles them to do the job but in actuality they are sadly lacking.
At this point i'll stop, as I am in danger of descending to being a grumpy Old Man having a rant.
How scary. I have my STCW'95 ticket amongst other impressive bits of paper. The STCW'95 took 1 week and was really a sea safety course and not one that would have given any ship's captain any clue of how to carry out his role. Even scarier we all marked each others papers and no one failed, especially the attractive females who needed the STCW'95 to work as stewardesses on the international super yachts.
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Old 13-01-2012, 06:25   #5
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Re: What licence to captain a large ship ?

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How scary. I have my STCW'95 ticket amongst other impressive bits of paper. The STCW'95 took 1 week and was really a sea safety course and not one that would have given any ship's captain any clue of how to carry out his role. Even scarier we all marked each others papers and no one failed, especially the attractive females who needed the STCW'95 to work as stewardesses on the international super yachts.

The STCW95 is not a ticket, but a "standard" for various tickets, so the trolly dollys would say need a Survival at Sea Course or something similar, and that course would have to comply with the IMO standards as set out in STCW 95.'
The ticket I have also complies with STCW 95, but that took me in the region of 30 months college time and about 5 to 6 years actual sea time, and it was some crusty old mariner who marked my papers.
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Old 13-01-2012, 06:44   #6
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Re: What licence to captain a large ship ?

Us crusty old mariners are everywhere. Usually if you get us a nice cup of coffee, and a biscuit we are pretty easy to get along with.
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Old 13-01-2012, 07:35   #7
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Re: What licence to captain a large ship ?

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Us crusty old mariners are everywhere. Usually if you get us a nice cup of coffee, and a biscuit we are pretty easy to get along with.

At the time I did my Master's ticket it was a crusty old mariner who marked the papers, now I find, like you, I've become one myself, time flies by to quick nowadays
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Old 13-01-2012, 08:29   #8
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Re: What licence to captain a large ship ?

Speaking as a crusty Old Man who has just finished clearing a ship into Nigeria and is therefore extremely crusty not to say grumpy I can say that my deck officers are not a bad bunch, one is even a Brit and another Brit certificated. However they all seem disgustingly young, bright and shiny - was I ever that shiny? Surely not! As for the black hand gang - well they're alright too really.

At the moment though it will take at least 2 biscuits to get me feeling a bit more cheerful!
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Old 13-01-2012, 08:40   #9
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Re: What licence to captain a large ship ?

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Us crusty old mariners are everywhere. Usually if you get us a nice cup of coffee, and a biscuit we are pretty easy to get along with.
I resemble that description.
My last job was an instructor who trained those who needed lower level licenses. Am now fully retired...
There are various requirements... Sea time, various training schools, plus physical & background checks.The higher the license the more hoops you have to jump through.
Take my coffee with one sugar, Please...
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Old 13-01-2012, 09:13   #10
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Re: What licence to captain a large ship ?

Black for me !! Boy things have changed!! Yrs ago, hours were everything. Took me 15 yrs to get to the top(or bottom depends on the job) on the west coast,in the 50s and 60s you better have your book up to date if you wanted to work on something other then then a crab boat LOL The jobs that made ya feel like a real Capt, were hard to get and keep, I remember my first BIG job 200 ton Packer ship out of Seattle, ahh I was so smart! heck we even had a Modern Loran!! Yep things have changed, my mate had never done any Navagation at all ! O well we always found our way home Looks like things haven't changed so much. Bob and Connie
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Old 13-01-2012, 09:46   #11
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Re: What licence to captain a large ship ?

If you go to the MCGA web page you will find all you need to know there.
With STCW2010 coming in and the new ISPS State and Port control, things are tightening up. I just hope the good captains can keep up with the new goalposts set by the chairfarting bureaucrats, the greens, and the vested interests who demand change in their own benefit, and resist it if not....
Ooops let out a rant there...
I still marvel at old time cruiser friends, no VHF, no engine, and a star to steer her by...
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Old 13-01-2012, 09:52   #12
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Re: What licence to captain a large ship ?

Let's not lump people with licenses from lax countries with people with licenses from responsible developed countries.

Master Mariners with unlimited tonnage/any ocean licenses from countries like the US, UK, Japan, many European and many of the Scandinavian countries must meet very strict standards that come from international agreements in addition to their own countries high standards.

STCW is a certification and not a license. All higher grade licenses require a STCW certification. You can get a STCW certificate and have a very low level license such as a "six pack".
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Old 13-01-2012, 10:07   #13
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Re: What licence to captain a large ship ?

I'm actually putting my wife through an stcw course next month. To my horror I found out she's never operated a fire extinguisher and then I started to realize all the survival and emergency training I've had that she's never touched. It won't substitute for a multi week damage control course, but being able to jump on an inverted life raft and flip it upright is a good skill. In San Diego here they take the students over to the local fire department training site to work with the different extinguishers. Cool stuff even for pleasure boaters.

- 100 ton master, happy as hell to come in time for dinner almost every night (barring longer fishing trips)
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Old 13-01-2012, 11:24   #14
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Re: What licence to captain a large ship ?

I used to be the youngest guy on the crew, and now with a few exceptions, I am the oldest. I am a hawse piper, so I didn't have the benefit of the Academy system, mostly self educated. I manage okay. I hear you about clearing into Nigeria, I have to go through that about every 7 to 10 days and the routine is always utter chaos for the first 3 to 4 hours, after that you really need a nice cuppa and a quite minute to let some of the stress run away.
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Old 13-01-2012, 11:36   #15
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Re: What licence to captain a large ship ?

Captain58sailin - I'd manage to avoid this bloody place since 1985 so I can't complain too much. Still, every 7-10 days? I think I'd shoot myself or somebody at least!
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