As you’re all surely aware, websites, blogs and other forms of social media have become the new standard for communicating to the masses. The U.S. Coast Guard, though still suffering from some glaring communication problems with the mariners they oversee (this is a cultural problem, not a technological problem), has embraced this concept on many levels. From Adm. Thad Allen’s iCommandant blog to the 5th District’s Prevention Division blog to Rear Adm. James Watson’s CG Atlantic Area Director of Operations blog to the AMVER blog, there’s a growing number of CG voices out in the blogosphere to help you stay informed. Many of the individual cutters and shore units have also jumped on the band wagon, such as the Boston-based CGC Escanaba. The more the better.
I will, however, single out an individual who deserves much praise for helping mariners struggling with our often user-unfriendly system of licensing, and it’s not on any Coast Guard site or blog. That would be Mr. Jim Cavo of the Policy Division of the Coast Guard’s Mariner Credentialing Program. He serves as the Shell Answer Man on the mariner forums of gCaptain, routinely fielding questions ranging from simple and routine to complicated and obscure in the various forums that mariners, often at wit’s end after getting the runaround or multiple conflicting answers from the NMC, have fled to for help. You may not get the answer you want, but he always seems to try his best to give accurate, concise and easily understood explanations. His presence is well-known and well-established at this point, and many of these questions are titled with some version of “A Question for Mr.Cavo.” I wish there were more of his kind occupying that Impenetrable Fortress of Riddles in the hills of West Virginia.
As an introduction for those of you who didn’t know about these forums, or Mr. Cavo’s contributions to them, here’s a couple of somewhat obscure but important towing-specific questions.
One individual was wondering about whether a Towing Vessel Designated Examiner with a Master of Towing <200GRT – Near Coastal license could sign off a Near Coastal TOAR for someone with a Mate of Towing Vessels <500GRT – Inland license. The question revolved around the fact that the mate needing the sign-off had a license with superior tonnage but an inferior route. Is a DE with a lower tonnage limit disqualified from signing off on someone with a higher tonnage limit? The answer turns out to be no.
According to Mr. Cavo, “Your approval letter from the NMC should say what routes you can sign for. The tonnage of the boat or the license the candidate holds or is seeking doesn’t matter. You can sign for anyone on the route(s) you are approved for.”
This was immediately followed by a completely unrelated but valid question I’ve never seen or heard before: “One last question – can a candidate for renewal of a Mate of Tow license use a combination of Mate of Tow sea service (250days) and A/B service (110 days) to arrive at the 360 days required in the last 5 years? The candidate is working as an A/B due to the ‘tough’ economy.”
The response: “The 46 CFR 10.227(d)(8) doesn’t specify what capacity the time for renewal needs to be as, so a mix of AB and licensed time is acceptable.”
Who knew? Not the answer I would have expected, but simple enough. Well done, Mr. Cavo.
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