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Helpful links for you to obtain the other USCG Requirements to receive your Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Code

International Maritime Organization (IMO)

STCW courses consist of:


An International Convention providing for improved Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, that has been signed and ratified by all major maritime countries, including the United States, which:

  • Promotes safety of life and property at sea, and;
  • Provides for further protection measures of the marine environment.

The STCW Code is the document where the mandatory provisions are laid out on how the intent of the STCW Convention will be achieved by all signers (parties) to the Convention.  The United States believes the STCW will:

  • Prepare U.S. mariners to utilize rapidly changing technologies, and benefit from the competitive advantages it can provide.
  • Reduce the economic disadvantage of “flags of convenience” employing poorly trained “crews of convenience.”

Basic Information

STCW applies to all mariners who wish to sail beyond the U.S. Territorial Boundary Line (3 miles Atlantic/Pacific Coasts, 12 miles Gulf of Mexico).  The U.S. Territorial Boundary Line simply separates bays, harbors, and other inland and certain coastal waters from the oceans.

The United States exempted mariners from STCW 95/2010 Amendments that serve on vessels of less than 200 Gross Registry Tons (GRT) (U.S. domestic tonnage) sailing on voyages which begin and end in a U.S. port.  This is now known as a national (formerly domestic) voyage.

Who must comply with STCW? Mariners serving onboard vessels over 200 GRT or 500 GT International Tonnage Convention (ITC) operating outside the U.S. Territorial Boundary Line. Also, mariners serving onboard vessels of less than 200GRT/500GT on international voyages (voyages that begin in U.S. port and end in an international port, or international port to port voyages).

For mariners who must comply with STCW, the most efficient and expedient way is by attending the required Coast Guard approved STCW compliant training and certification courses that are applicable to the level of their U.S. Coast Guard issued license and the voyage routes (other than a national voyage).

Once you have complied with the requirements of STCW, you must request an STCW endorsement with your Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC).

Your Coast Guard license, your Merchant Mariner’s Document (MMD), and your STCW certificate are all part of your MMC. You can still maintain your Coast Guard license or MMD without complying with STCW, but you will be restricted to operating or serving on vessels inside the U.S. Territorial Boundary Line.

Who Must Do Basic Training (formerly Basic Safety Training)
Seafarer’s employed or engaged in any capacity on board ship as part of the ship’s complement with designated duties in the operation of the ship shall, before being assigned, have completed Basic Training.

How to Comply

All mariners who apply for an original MMD or currently hold an ““entry level” MMD without an endorsed qualified rating (ordinary seaman/wiper/steward), comply with STCW by completing the four Basic Training (BT) courses, which are: Basic Firefighting; Personal Survival Techniques; Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities; and Elementary First Aid.  Then the MMD holder applies for an STCW certificate from the Coast Guard.

For those mariners that are applying for an original license, or presently hold a Coast Guard license for vessels of not more than 200 GRT, Near Coastal, may also comply with STCW by simply completing Basic Training (BT), and then apply for the STCW certificate from the Coast Guard.

What are the levels of STCW?
For un-licensed mariners and licensed officers on board vessels of over 200 GRT/500GT (ITC), operating outside the U.S. Territorial Boundary Line (international voyages) there are levels of compliance that vary as mariners advance in their careers.  STCW affects MMD original issuances, and endorsements for qualified ratings.  Also applicants for original licenses or upgrading licenses in scope, tonnage, or horsepower are affected.  All require participation in Coast Guard approved STCW Training and Education Programs.  Many programs include the acquiring of approved sea service while also being trained and assessed on board the vessel.  The following are the levels of STCW

  • Navigation and Engineering at the Support Level. MMD holders without or with endorsed qualified rating(s).
    Rating Forming Part of a Navigational Watch, or;
    Rating Forming Part of an Engineering Watch.
  • Navigation and Engineering at the Operational Level. Mate or Engineer Officers.
    Officer in Charge of the Navigational Watch, or;
    Officer in Charge of the Engineering Watch.
  • Navigation and Engineering at the Management Level. Chief Mate/Master or Chief Engineer.
    Chief Mate/Master, or;
    Chief Engineer.
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