Training courses in the USCG licensing and sea-time remission program should be required to meet the resultant training course standards. These standards are urgently needed and should be developed without delay. To guide the rapidly evolving state of marine simulator practice effectively, these standards should be developed within two years.
Recommendation 3: U.S. licensing authorities should require that instructors of simulator-based training courses used for formal licensing assessment, licensing renewal, and training for required certifications (i.e., liquid natural gas carrier watchstander, offshore oil port mooring masters) be professionally competent with respect to relevant nautical expertise, the licensing process, and training methods. The professional qualifications of the lead instructor should be at least the same as the highest qualification for which trainees are being trained or examined. Criteria and standards for instructor qualification should be developed and procedures set in place for certifying and periodically recertifying instructors who conduct training.
Continuing professional development is an important element in acquiring and retaining knowledge and skills. Simulators can be extremely useful to deck officers and pilots for renewing and refreshing existing skills and acquiring new skills through exposure to new technologies and operational scenarios. Ship-bridge simulators can be effective for both deck officer and pilot training in bridge team management, bridge resource management, and some shiphandling, although current computer-based simulators are limited in ability to simulate ships' maneuvering trajectories in shallow and restricted waterways and ship-to-ship interactions—capabilities important to pilot shiphandling training.
Because of the increased use of U.S. waters by foreign-flag vessels, the USCG should extend its concern for mariner professional development beyond the United States. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is currently revising the Standards for Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping guidelines, including development of guidance for use of simulators. As a representative to the IMO, the USCG has a role in international professional development.
Recommendation 4: Marine pilotage authorities and companies retaining pilot services should encourage marine pilots, docking masters, and mooring masters who have not participated in an accredited ship-bridge simulator or manned-model course to do so as an element of continuing professional development. Marine pilot organizations, including the American Pilots' Association and state commissions, boards, and associations, should, in cooperation with companies retaining pilot services, establish programs to implement this recommendation.