Coast Guard updates megayacht requirements

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Megayacht crews can breathe a sigh of relief that changes that would affect them in the proposed 2011 amendments to the U.S. Standard of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping appear relatively modest, industry sources say.

“At this point I believe that the impact will be less significant than with the original [Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking],” says Amy Beavers, academic principal for Maritime Professional Training, a Fort Lauderdale license training school. “It appears as though the U.S. Coast Guard has made concessions based on earlier comments.”

The biggest impact will be the requirement for license holders to be recertified every five years instead of 10, which on a yacht affects mainly the master — the only licensed crewmember required on most megayachts, says Will Watson, a spokesman for the Marshall Islands Registry, a yacht registry.

Another change: The timeworn classification able-bodied seaman was changed to able seaman, either deck or engineering.

“It’s not a big change as far as we’re concerned,” agrees Peter Baker, president of Megayacht Technical Services International Inc., a Fort Lauderdale-based company that specializes in regulations affecting megayachts. He says some captains wondered whether a requirement to recertify the medical person in charge every five years would include the original weeklong $2,000 to $3,000 course or whether a much less expensive refresher course would suffice.

The amendments allow “the preservation of the ‘hawsepipe’ program, which permits use of on-the-job training or practical experience to obtain endorsements and would foster career paths that were not previously available” — a major win for the industry, the Federal Register announcement says.

The proposed rules also would tighten the oversight of licensing courses and change the weekly rest hours requirement for crew from 70 hours to 77, although some flexibility would be allowed in “exceptional circumstances.”

Public meetings were scheduled this month and in early September in Miami, New Orleans, Seattle and Washington, D.C. The comment period for the supplemental notice ends Sept. 30.

Click here for the Federal Register notice of the proposed amendments.

— Jim Flannery