though not encouraged, under the guideline's present wording. As a matter of policy, the USCG has interpreted the existing language of the STCW guidelines as a sufficient basis for substituting time spent in ship-bridge simulator-based courses for sea-time remission ratios up to 6 to 1.
The application of a specific ratio (such as 6 to 1) implies that a judgment has been made that each day of the simulator-based training course(s) specified is equal to six days of on-the-job experience aboard ship. The USCG has extended the remission policy to include, within certain limits, portions of the minimum one-year sea time required by the STCW guidelines.2
During this study, the committee could find no strong support among mariners or employers for the desirability of remission of sea time. The committee also found that most groups were skeptical and ambivalent about the current policy. Pilot groups explicitly criticized the policy and recommended that it not be applied to pilots under any circumstances. This lack of support implies that, before additional measures are taken to increase sea-time remission, answers should be sought to the questions of whether, or to what degree, and under what terms and conditions simulation should be substituted for a sea time in the professional development and qualification of mariners. The following discussions address these questions by considering unresolved issues, application of systematic approach in the development of criteria for decisions to grant remission of sea time, and potentially useful applications of remission of a sea time.
Chapter 2 through 4 discuss current simulator-based training and its applications to mariner skills improvement and professional development. There is, however, a basic, and quite important, distinction between the use of simulators as training tools and the use of simulator-based training for granting remission of sea time. Thus far, simulator-based has been discussed in this report primarily in the context of a supplement to existing training practices. In the application of simulator-based training to the remission of required sea time, however, simulator-based training becomes a substitute for on-the-job skills and knowledge acquisition.
The STCW guidelines are currently undergoing extensive revision, including major changes with respect to the use of simulation in the professional training of mariners. The draft revisions retain the three-years minimum sea-time requirement, the option for substituting training for two years of the requirement, and the minimum one-year sea-service requirement. The thrust of the proposed revisions is that the one year of sea service is an onboard requirement, although there may not be an absolute prohibition on the substitution of "equivalent" training. The final wording of the revisions, when adopted by the IMO, will need to be assessed to determine its effect on current and prospective remission policies and practices.