THE NEW HAWSEPIPE
On February 1st 2002, the United States merchant maritime industry was forever changed. Every merchant mariner, whether aware of it or not, would be subject to a completely new set of regulations which were to improve the level of human safety aboard ships, prevent accidents through increased job competency, and “raise the bar” for anyone trying to obtain a merchant marine officer’s license or mariner document.
The “new rules,” as they have been coined, were ratified by the International Maritime Organization and sent throughout the world as the new standard in global shipping. Every country party to the I.M.O. had to be in compliance of these rules by Feb 1, 2002. Its official name was the “Standards in Training and Certification of Watchkeeping 1972 as ammended in 1995.” Sailors called it STCW ’95.
The level of confusion was exponential as the U.S. Coast Guard tried to decipher these rules so mariners can get the license or document they need to get a job or a promotion. It has become a constant, confusing battle as to what mariners need to become qualified for a license or document.
The Coast Guard defines a mariner who works his way up from deckhand to captain onboard ships as a “hawsepiper.” These folks do not go to the specific maritime academies to obtain their licenses. They advance by taking the initiative to learn the subjects, become skilled and competent at each task required, and take the Coast Guard exams on their own.
The New Hawsepipe is a pragmatic reference book which explains all the U.S. Coast Guard and STCW ‘95 requirements for merchant mariners who want to get promoted and for non-mariners interested in a well paying, exciting career.