top of page

The Radar Observer Endorsement “Final Rule” Not So Final

I’m in the process of renewing my mariner credentials and, as we’re all aware by now (or should be), the regulations for radar observer endorsements were changed and became final in September of 2008. What you might not know is that the U.S. Coast Guard has decided they’ll continue to provide radar endorsements without an expiration date if you wish to have them placed on your license.

I began my renewal process in January with the Sept. ’08 rule in mind, and held off scheduling a radar renewal until March ’09. This will have the effect of overlapping my valid radar certificate with my new one.  Here’s a note I received from the licensing consultant I’m using to handle my paperwork.

“In a Federal Register dated 9/11/08, the USCG made it very clear that radar observer would no longer be endorsed on licenses. The mariner would need, though, to keep his/her radar observer training current by being able to show the USCG (if someone should ask) a radar renewal course certificate less than 5 years old. I’ve seen no further Federal Register or official policy to the contrary.

But a chance discussion I had a few days ago with the man in charge of REC Boston has revealed some clarification/update. The USCG changed their mind and will indeed endorse “radar observer” on licenses with no expiration of that endorsement mentioned.  So if a license has a current radar observer endorsement to expire after the license expiration date, then the license can be renewed without submitting a radar renewal course certificate at the license renewal submission.

But if a license has a radar observer endorsement that has expired or expires on the same date as the license (like yours), then the radar renewal  course certificate needs to be submitted to the USCG as part of the license renewal application. Very frustrating.”

The man is a master of understatement, don’t you think? I was thinking that I’m going to lose a month of time in my renewal but I decided to make a call to the National Maritime Center (NMC) and here is what they told me:

If you wish to have your radar endorsement added to your license, you’ll need to provide a valid certificate to the USCG upon renewal.  It will be endorsed on your ticket without an expiration date.  If you do not wish to carry the endorsement on the ticket, you may carry the radar cert itself and not get the endorsement on your license.

The first instinct I would encourage at this point is to make a phone call to the Maritime Center before you get wound up and ready to kick ass and take names.  I’m glad I didn’t fire off the emails I was composing last night as it would have had the effect of alienating too many people without a good reason.

The much maligned NMC has increased their staff for Medical Review Officers and are in the process of working out the kinks. They willingly admit it’s a learning process.  The one thing they seem to have right is that their phone agents are intelligent, helpful and reasonable. This is a huge difference from what we’re all familiar with and have come to expect.

Make the call.

Capt. Bill Brucato

ATB Nicole L. Reinauer Master of Towing Vessels – Oceans Master ≤1,600 GRT – Oceans T/V Designated Examiner

Recent Posts

See All

STCW 2010 & More

Last year there was a meeting of the minds in Manila to hash out the latest major round of changes to the STCW Code, which are scheduled to “come into force” on January 1, 2012. That’s only five month


bottom of page