What’s an USCG Licensed Operator of Uninspected Vessels?
If a vessel carries passengers for hire, the operator must hold a current USCG license. The original license must be onboard when sailing with passengers (even with 1 passenger). A copy of the current license is not permitted. Upon expiration of the current license (valid for 5-years), the mariner must show 360-days of seatime accrued during the current issue of the license in order to renew without testing. Once expired, there is no grace period in which a mariner can operate under the authority of his license. This is a one-year grace period for license renewal only. During this 12-month period a mariner can renew without having to re-take all of the examinations or tests. Operating a vessel with an expired license can subject a mariner to a civil penalty and could impact the ability of the mariner to renew his license.
The USCG issues merchant mariners licenses to those mariners who have duly examined and qualified to hold an Operator or Master’s license. There are three main areas to be dealt with in the licensing process. First, are the basic requirements which must be met, these are:
Minimum age 18 years.
Proof of US citizenship or legal resident
Three signed character references attesting to personal character and responsibility.
Current within 12 months First Aid/CPR card.
Current within 12 months medical examination.
Current within 6 months USCG approved drug screening.
Current photo identification card.
Original Social Security card.
In addition, each mariner must demonstrate on the water experience or seatime. For an OUPV license, the USCG allows mariners to do this through a process call self-certification. That is, the mariner is required to document how many days of experience (one day equals 4-hours underway during a 24-hour period of time) while underway for each month, year, and boat for which time is claimed. In addition, USCG requires proof of ownership or use of the vessel to support any and all time claimed. A pre-existing The seatime requirements for Inland, Near-Coastal, and Great Lakes routing are as follows.
Inland Routes: 360 days on Inland waters, (1 day equals 4 plus hours underway in a 24 hour period) counted from your 15th birthday.
Of the 360 days, 90 days of those must be within the last 3 years.
In addition for Near-Coastal and Great Lakes endorsements:
Near Coastal endorsement requires 90 days of the 360 days in near coastal waters. Allows operation of un-inspected vessels up to 100 miles off shore.
Great Lakes endorsement, allows operations on the Great Lakes but requires 90 days of the 360 to be on the Great Lakes.
The last requirement is to pass four written examinations which deal with chart reading, piloting, tides-currents, weather, compass, navigation rules, rules-regulations concerning passenger boat operations, seamanship – marlinspike, pollution, safety, lifesaving equipment, boat handling-anchoring, radiotelephone, and small marine engines. All examinations are in written format with multiple choice answers. Each mariner has the opportunity to re-exam (up to two times) in each of the following four subject areas:
· Piloting (Charting) – 10 questions, 70% correct to pass.
· Navigation General – 20 questions, 70% correct to pass.
· Navigation Rules (COLREGS – US Inland) – 30 questions, 90% correct to pass.
· Deck General and Safety + Environmental – 70 questions, 70% correct to pass.