Maybe not. Effective July 22, 2019, the long anticipated changes to the Radar Renewal requirements were implemented. The changes announced in the Federal Register of June 7, 2019 had been only slightly modified from the original proposal of June 18, 2018 and are as follows:

  • 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 refresher or re-certification course to renew his or her Radar Observer endorsement. “Relevant sea service” means having served in a position that uses radar for navigation and collision avoidance purposes on a radar-equipped vessel.
  • In addition to the information already required for documentation of sea service (cf 46 CFR 10.232(a)), letters now need to specify that the vessels the mariner has served on are equipped with radar and that the mariner served in a position that routinely uses radar for navigation and collision avoidance. Not all vessels are required to be equipped with radar. However if a mariner is serving on a vessel which is radar-equipped even if not required to be, the mariner will be credited with the necessary service for Radar Renewal when the sea-time is documented as described above.
  • Mariners who provide evidence of being a qualified instructor and having taught a Coast Guard-approved or accepted radar course at least twice within the past 5 years will not be required to complete a radar refresher or re-certification course.
  • Pilots may submit a letter from a pilot’s association attesting to the applicant’s sea service. For those pilots seeking to renew a radar observer endorsement, the association’s letter should indicate that the vessels piloted were equipped with radar and that radar was used by the pilot for navigation and collision avoidance purposes. Pilots not part of an association may submit other relevant records indicating service, such as billing forms.

It is essential that new sea-time letters include the documentation of service on the radar-equipped vessel in a capacity requiring the equipment’s regular use. Reference for now could be made to the Notice of the Final Rule found in the Federal Register of Friday, June 7, 2019 and the soon-to-be amended 46 CFR 11.480(g).

Note: If a mariner holds a currently valid credential endorsed for Radar, then that Radar Endorsement is valid until the expiration of the credential. However the current credential must have “Radar Observer” written on the credential. It is no longer sufficient to carry the Radar Renewal Certificate issued by a school.

For example, a mariner renewed her Deck Officer Credential in May 2020. The Radar endorsement was due to expire in August 2020. Her credential was renewed with the Radar endorsement intact. Renewal, by course or documentation as indicated above, would not be necessary until her Officer Credential expires, that is, in May of 2025.

If you hold a Deck Officer credential and it is not endorsed for Radar, then even if you hold the Radar Renewal Certificate from a course, you should submit an application to NMC to have that endorsement placed on the credential. You will have to pay fees for application and issuance.