Effective July 22, 2019, the long anticipated changes to the Radar Renewal requirements will be implemented.  The changes announced in the Federal Register of June 7, 2019 have 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.

In the interval between now and July 22, the National Maritime Center has told us current policy applies.  That is, if a mariner’s radar endorsement expires, a renewal course would be required if the endorsement is needed for work.  But if the current Radar Endorsement remains valid to July 22, it is our understanding that the mariner may hold off renewing until then and avoid the course requirement.

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).