By their very nature, oceanographic research vessels have unique manning and crewing requirements, which must satisfy both governmental regulations, and the science mission requirements of each expedition. The regulations put forth by the United States Coast Guard (USCG), Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), United States Code (USC), Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping, (STCW), International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, (SOLAS), International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships (ITC), Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), as well as local laws, all govern the crew requirements for a particular vessel. In addition to the manning requirements set forth by governmental regulations, the number and type of crew on a particular vessel may also be influenced by the science mission requirements of the ship or a particular cruise. The operating area, over-all experience of the science party, length of the voyage, and complexity of the science plan all impact the number and mix of scientists and technicians needed to successfully carry out the cruise.
The UNOLS fleet represents a diverse and broad spectrum of vessel types, and manning requirements will vary for each type of vessel. There are inspected vessels, uninspected vessels, limited tonnage and unlimited tonnage (Gross tonnage-GT and Gross Registered tonnage-GRT) Regional, Ocean and Global Class ships, and each has its own manning requirements. These crew requirements are addressed in sections below.
The Chief Scientist and/or Principal Investigator determine the make up of the science party for each science mission based on the nature of the work. Although ultimately, the Master of the research vessel is responsible for safety, the Chief Scientist has the responsibility to ensure that each task during the cruise is adequately planned and manned with appropriately trained and experienced scientific personnel.
In general the scientific party is responsible for carrying out the research and the crew is primarily engaged in safe operation of the vessel. In putting together the science team, it is important that factors such as the cruise plan, round-the-clock operations and rest, complexity of over-the-side operations and length of cruise are considered. The total allowable number of personnel (crew, technicians and scientists) will be discussed below in the section on required regulations for all vessels.
There are several terms found in the various regulations, which must be clearly understood in the interpretation of these laws. The following terms affect manning levels and are defined in Chapter 3.
Manning regulations are contained in 46 CFR 15. The purpose of the regulations in this part is to set forth uniform minimum requirements for the manning of vessels. In general, they implement, interpret, or apply the specific statutory manning requirements in title 46, USC., parts E & F, implement various international conventions which affect merchant marine personnel, and provide the means for establishing the complement necessary for safe operation of vessels.
The regulations in this part apply to all vessels, which are subject to the manning requirements contained in the navigation, and shipping laws of the United States, including uninspected vessels (46 USC. 7101-9308).
The navigation and shipping laws state that a vessel may not be operated unless certain manning requirements are met. In addition to establishing a minimum of licensed individuals and members of the crew to be carried on board certain vessels, they establish minimum qualifications concerning licenses, citizenship, and conditions of employment. It is the responsibility of the owner, charterer, managing operator, master, or person in charge or command of the vessel to ensure that appropriate personnel are carried to meet the requirements of the applicable navigation and shipping laws and regulations.
46 CFR 15.801 states in part that the Masters or individuals in command of all vessels, whether required to be inspected under 46 USC. 3301 or not, are responsible for properly manning vessels in accordance with the applicable laws, regulations, and international conventions.
The Inspected Vessel manning requirements, (composition, billets, total numbers of personnel onboard) are established as part of the Certificate of Inspection issued by the USCG (46 CFR 15.103 & 15.501). For specific details on how the Officer in Charge Marine Inspection (OCMI) determines these numbers see 46 CFR 15.801.
Applies STCW requirements and documentation to Intermediates and larger (over 500GT) and any vessel going foreign. (See NVIC 4-97 and 7-07) Also SOLAS Chapter V, regulation 14 requires: “vessels engaged in international voyages to be sufficiently and efficiently manned.” See section 5.3.5 – STCW regulations below.
The rules, which govern manning requirements on uninspected research vessels, are not well defined. As stated in the USCG Marine Safety Manual, Chapter 26: “there are very few statutory requirements that allow the Coast Guard to regulate uninspected vessels.” The regulations for the uninspected vessel industry focus on towing vessels, motor-propelled yachts, fishing vessels, and uninspected passenger vessels. Most of the regulations that apply to uninspected vessels are applied to Documented vessels.
There is a manning chart in Chapter 26, Figure 26-1, which lists requirements and references for citizenship, manning, and watch requirements that apply to uninspected, documented vessels.
46 CFR 15.701: Implements the Officers Competency Certificate Convention 1936, which applies to each vessel documented under the laws of the US navigating seaward of boundary lines except a vessel of less than 200 GT.
46 CFR 15.805: “There must be an individual holding an appropriate license as Master in command of each of the following vessels:
46 CFR 15.810(c): “An individual in charge of the navigation or maneuvering of a self-propelled, uninspected, documented seagoing vessel of 200 gross tons or over must hold an appropriate license authorizing service as mate.
46 CFR 15.810(f): “The USCG Commandant will consider increases or decreases in the number of mates when special circumstances allowing a vessel to be safely operated can be demonstrated.”
46 CFR 15.820: “There must be an individual holding an appropriate license as Chief Engineer or a license authorizing service as a Chief Engineer on board inspected mechanically propelled seagoing vessels of 200 GT and over.” An individual engaged or employed to perform the duties of Chief Engineer on a mechanically propelled uninspected seagoing documented vessel of 200 GT or over must hold an appropriate license authorizing service as a Chief Engineer.”
46 CFR 15.825: “An individual in charge of an engineer’s watch on a mechanically propelled seagoing documented vessel of 200 GT or over must hold an appropriate license authorizing service as an assistant engineer.
The regulations are mostly silent for un-documented (state numbered) vessels, which include many of the UNOLS research vessels. Because of this it is recommended that operators of these vessels consult directly with the responsible Marine Safety Office for any questions.
On uninspected, undocumented research vessels the total number of crew and scientists is usually governed by the number berths on the vessel. Requirements for life saving equipment should be similar to those of inspected vessels of similar size and operating characteristics. For day trips, availability of lifesaving equipment and the ability of the crew to supervise safe operations will influence the allowable number of people on board.
46CFR15.1101 is the beginning of Subpart J of 46 CFR 15 and defines STCW and certain terms relative to STCW. It also describes the applicability of the STCW regulations to U.S. Vessels. Subpart J includes 46CFR15.1101 through 46CFR15.1111. Further STCW guidance is contained in two USCG NVICs. NVIC 4-97 establishes guidelines for applying STCW for companies owning or operating U.S. documented, self-propelled vessels that operate beyond the boundary line (seagoing). The intent is to ensure that U.S. documented seagoing vessels are appropriately manned with personnel fully competent and fit to perform all routine and emergency duties on board. NVIC 7-00 provides clarification regarding the application of STCW to vessels less than 200 GRT.
Subpart J defines STCW to mean the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, as amended in 1995 and STCW Code means the Seafarer’s Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Code. Also for STCW, Seagoing vessel means a self-propelled vessel in commercial service that operates beyond the Boundary Line established by 46 CFR part 7. It does not include a vessel that navigates exclusively on inland waters.
Rest means a period of time during which the person concerned is off duty, is not performing work (which includes administrative tasks such as chart corrections or preparation of port-entry documents), and is allowed to sleep without being interrupted. Overriding operational conditions means circumstances in which essential shipboard work cannot be delayed for safety or environmental reasons, or could not reasonably have been anticipated at the commencement of the voyage.
Subpart J applies to seagoing vessels subject to STCW. Further clarification in NVIC 7-00 makes it clear that vessels less than 200 GRT on domestic near coastal voyages do not have to comply with STCW requirements. Near Coastal is considered to be within 200 nm of the U.S. shore and within the jurisdiction of the U.S. (see Domestic Voyages below). NVIC 7-00 applies STCW to vessels over 200 GRT on “international voyages”, which they define more broadly than elsewhere in the CFRs (see International voyages below).
A vessel that has on board a valid Safety Management Certificate and a copy of a Document of Compliance issued for that vessel in accordance with 46 U.S.C. 3205 is presumed in compliance with the regulations in subpart J.
STCW Regulation II/4 lists minimum requirements for ratings forming part of a navigational watch for unlicensed mariners working on a seagoing vessel of 500 GT or more.
STCW-95 certificates or endorsements are required as follows on board seagoing vessels operating beyond the boundary line as established by 46 CFR 7:
No person may serve as Master, chief mate, chief engineer, first assistant engineer, officer in charge of the navigating watch or engineering watch unless the person holds an appropriate, valid STCW certificate or endorsement.
On board a seagoing vessel of 500 GT (200 GRT) or more no person may serve in a rating, which forms a part of a navigational watch unless the person holds an appropriate, valid STCW certificate or endorsement.
On board a seagoing vessel driven by main propulsion machinery of 750 kw (1000 hp) propulsion power or more, no person may serve in a rating forming part of a watch in a manned or perform duties in a periodically unmanned engine room except for training or duties of an unskilled nature unless the person holds an appropriate, valid STCW certificate or endorsement. (Note: STCW does not apply to engineering officers serving on a seagoing vessel less than 750 kW (1000hp).
For purposes of these rules 200 Gross Registered Tons (domestic tonnage) is equal to 500 Gross Tons (international tonnage). Specific rules regarding the applicability of STCW for vessels under 200 GRT are summarized below:
The Coast Guard, as per NVIC 7-00, has determined that, for certain small vessels on domestic near coast voyages that safety provided through the current licensing, inspection and oversight programs for small vessels delivers a level of safety comparable to STCW. As such the Coast Guard has imposed no new requirements either on mariners serving on passenger vessels of less than 100 GRT inspected under subchapter T or K or on other vessels less than 200 GRT on domestic voyages or on the owners or operators of such vessels.
The Coast Guard considers near coastal voyages to be those within 200 miles of the U.S. shore and within the jurisdiction of the U. S.
As a result, when a Master or other mariner is serving on a vessel of less than 200 GRT on a domestic near coastal voyage, no new training requirements have been imposed beyond the regulations. Holding a suitably endorsed license for service complies with the STCW under domestic law.
An officer operating a vessel on domestic voyages will have an appropriate STCW endorsement automatically placed directly on his or her license. This endorsement is available to any officer on an inspected passenger vessel less than 100 GRT and on any other U. S. vessel less than 200 GRT (500 GT) that is operating exclusively on a domestic voyage, if this mariner does not already hold a STCW certificate. This endorsement should read as follows:
When the holder of this license is serving on an U. S. Vessel of less than 200 gross registered tons (500 gross tonnage) in domestic service, no added STCW endorsement is necessary to meet the U. S. regulations implementing the STCW Convention.
This section uses the terminology found in NVIC 7-00 addressing International voyages. As described in Chapter 3 of the RVSS, International Voyages are made by vessels subject to SOLAS. However NVIC 7-00 seems to cast a broader net regarding “International Voyages”, defined in the NVIC as a voyage from a port in the U.S. to a port in a foreign country. The NVIC also states that these endorsements apply to mariners not engaged on vessels on near coastal voyages and that a license endorsed for near coastal voyages is not valid for international voyages or operations in waters of a foreign country.
Mariners licensed for service on vessels of less than 100 GRT inspected under subchapter T or K and on other vessels less than 200 GRT (500GT), when operating on an international voyages (except for the specific exemptions identified in NVIC 7-00), must meet the training and assessments required by the applicable U. S. and STCW regulations in accordance with 46 CFR 10.202. A mariner seeking a license or certificate valid for international voyages must meet the requirements for training and assessment required by STCW as may be applicable to the license or rating.
Any unlicensed mariner assigned a watch in an engine room or designated to perform duties in a periodically unmanned engine room on a vessel on an international voyage must have an STCW endorsement documenting that he or she meets the competencies of the STCW. This requirement applies only to those vessels driven by machinery of 750kw (1000 hp) or more.
NVIC 7-00 also sets forth a method to issue a STCW certificate to a mariner required to make an occasional international voyage, whose routine operations are domestic voyage.
All uninspected UNOLS research vessels under 300GRT in addition to inspected vessels over 300GRT shall maintain crews that are trained and organized and whenever possible certified per the regulations established by STCW 95 and NVIC 4-97 & 7-00.
Operators should be guided by 46 CFR 15.1111 which addresses work hours and required rest periods when identifying final crew complement. In general, watch standers must receive a minimum of 10 hours of rest in any 24-hour period. The hours of rest may be divided into not more than two periods, one of which must be at least 6 hours in length.
PHYSICAL EVALUATION STANDARDS: Institutions employing personnel as crewmembers not possessing a Coast Guard issued license or merchant marine document should insure these crewmembers meet the physical standards of NVIC 2-98 or an equivalent set of physical standards established by their institution.
MANNING- SCIENTIFIC PERSONNEL: As noted above, the maximum number of scientific personnel is regulated for inspected vessels.
For uninspected vessels, the operator shall determine the maximum number allowable. This must be consistent with the safety and lifesaving equipment available on board the vessel and consistent with crew and science accommodations provided on the vessel. For smaller vessels, which have a labeled boat or raft capacity provided by the manufacturer these ratings shall not be exceeded. This limit should be made known to prospective chief scientists well in advance, so their staffing can be adequately planned. Recommended guidelines in this regard are to be found in manufacturers’ specifications, ABYC publications, the Federal Safe Boating Act, and similar sources. (46 CFR 188.05-33; ABYC H-5)
Chief Scientists should ensure that they have adequate numbers of trained personnel to safely carry out their planned science operations. The requirements for crew rest outlined in 46 CFR 15.1111 (described in section 4.4 above) should be used as a guide for marine technicians and scientific personnel engaged in science operations, especially those on deck or in the laboratories when the use of equipment or chemicals might present hazards to personnel. If safety is compromised due to a lack of rest, the Master retains the authority and obligation to suspend operations.
MASTER OF THE VESSEL: The interrelationship of the Master of a vessel and the Chief Scientist is unique. The ship’s Master is, in both law and tradition, solely and ultimately responsible for the safety and good conduct of the ship and all persons embarked, including the scientific party. Some specific regulatory requirements concerning the responsibilities of the Master of inspected vessels are found in 46 CFR Subchapter U, and these can be extrapolated to the Master of any vessel. To avoid disputes and misunderstandings, the substance of these regulations and customs should be clearly set forth in the ship’s Cruise Handbook or similar publication, since many scientists are not aware of the legal and customary constraints.
Because of these legal responsibilities, the Master is also given full legal authority over all operations and personnel, both on board ship and in foreign ports. However, the primary objective of the Master and the crew is to facilitate carrying out the research in a safe and effective manner. In practice, the Chief Scientist informs the Master what is desired, and unless it is unsafe or illegal, it will be carried out. In case of serious disagreement, the question can be referred to the institution’s marine manager, but it must be emphasized that if a decision has to be made quickly, the authority of the Master is absolute. (46 CFR Subchapter U)
CHIEF SCIENTIST: One member of the scientific party shall be designated Chief Scientist. This is to avoid placing conflicting demands from scientists on the Master, and asking the Master to referee disputes on scientific matters. The Chief Scientist is responsible for the coordination and execution of the entire scientific mission, not just his/her own portion of it. By custom, the personal and professional conduct of the scientific party on board ship and ashore is the responsibility of the Chief Scientist, under the overall control of the ship’s Master.
In matters of safety, the Chief Scientist must always defer to the Master in case of dispute. In many cases, safety matters are common knowledge, and not unique to research vessels. In other cases there may be safety hazards unique to the research, which the ship’s crew may not be aware of. In such instances, the Chief Scientist has a special responsibility to assure safety, and consult with the Master as necessary. (46 CFR 19415-3; 195.09)