validate USCG-approved courses. It implies that expertise can be developed through assignments of personnel in the vessel inspection program.
The report states that use of marine simulation for testing purposes is controversial and that "the wide-spread use of simulation as a test of more definitive subjective knowledge has yet to be fully demonstrated" (Anderson et al., 1993). It characterizes the use of marine simulation by operating companies as successful, based on use of the technology rather than on the practical results of the training in actual operations. Although the companies and marine pilot associations that use simulation believe that there is value to their operations, and thus continue to use simulation, the value added has not been determined empirically.
The report recommends that the potential for applying simulation in training and licensing be assessed and recommends the adoption of simulation for demonstrations of competency. In particular, the report recommends development of "performance standards for a high current/tight quarters maneuvering simulator training program" and a requirement to complete such a "simulator training and testing program as a prerequisite for issuance of a Western Rivers OUTV." The state of practice in computer-based simulation of inland towboat operations, especially for large barge flotillas, is not identified. The training resources that are currently available to support the training of inland towing vessel operators is the same infrastructure that is used for masters, mates, and pilots. For these reasons, it is not clear that the focus group's recommendations could be implemented in the near term or mid-term.
The report defined competency as:
… the total set of skills, knowledge and judgments necessary for the proper performance of one's duties in a specific position on a specific vessel. Competency, thus defined, can be broken down into two subsets. The first is the base level of skills, knowledge and judgments necessary to perform the duties of generic positions, e.g., Chief Mate, on a wide range of vessels of similar size and type.…The second competency subset consists of the skills, knowledge and judgments peculiar to a specific vessel or trade (Anderson et al., 1993).
The focus group in its report further stated that:
Ensuring that mariners possess the base level, also known as minimum competence, is a proper role of government. The consensus of the Focus Group is that public safety and the environment will be better protected by improving the methods by which mariners obtain this minimum competence. The second competency subset consists of the skills, knowledge and judgments peculiar to a specific vessel or trade. It is the responsibility of the owners, operators and individual mariners to ensure that these are obtained in a timely manner (Anderson et.al., 1993).
The report found that the level of improvement varied among the elements of the marine licensing program. The focus group recommended that the USCG move