There are a number of areas where simulator-based training may be more effective at achieving licensing objectives than on-the-job experience. These include:

  • areas where onboard training may be limited by concerns over ship safety, such as maneuvering in traffic and shiphandling;
  • cadet training;
  • refresher requirements; and
  • recency requirements in license renewal.

Until sufficient research is conducted to demonstrate the benefits of sea-time remission, it should be applied only to original third mates' licenses (for which simulator-based training has been demonstrated to be superior to the onboard experience) and to the renewal of licenses without grade increases (for which adding structured training to onboard experience would be a significant benefit).

Research Needs

Implementing a sea-time equivalency program will require a well-defined, ongoing monitoring program that will collect and analyze data to ensure that program objectives are met and mariner competency levels are maintained. Before there is any full-scale use of simulator-based training to meet certain refresher requirements, research should be conducted to determine the objectives of the current requirements and the type and length of training that could be substituted.


DGSM (Director-General of Shipping and Maritime Affairs). 1994. Simulator Time and Its Sea-Time Equivalency. DGSM Project No. 634(70/3/017). MarineSafety International Rotterdam and TNO Human Factors Research Institute. Rijswijk, Netherlands: DGSM.

Drown, D.F., and I.J. Lowry. 1993. A categorization and evaluation system for computer-based ship operation training. Pp. 103–113 in MARSIM '93. International Conference on Maritime Simulation and Ship Maneuverability, St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada, September 26–October 2.

Hammell, T.J., K.E. Williams, J.A. Grasso, and W. Evans. 1980. Simulators for Mariner Training and Licensing. Phase 1: The Role of Simulators in the Mariner Training and Licensing Process (2 volumes). Report Nos. CAORF 50-7810-01 and USCG-D-12-80. Kings Point, New York: Computer Aided Operations Research Facility, National Maritime Research Center.

Hays, R.T., and M.J. Singer. 1989. Simulation Fidelity in Training System Design: Bridging the Gap Between Reality and Training. New York: Springer-Verlag.

IMO (International Maritime Organization). 1993. STCW 1978: International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping, 1978. London, England: IMO.

Kayten, P., W.M. Korsoh, W.C. Miller, E.J. Kaufman, K.E. Williams, and T.C. King, Jr. 1982. Assessment of Simulator-Based Training for the Enhancement of Cadet Watch Officer. Kings Point, New York: National Maritime Research Center.

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