A to Z: USCG

Today’s post for the A to Z challenge is: USCG (United States Coast Guard).

As an American merchant mariner, I have to say I have a love-hate relationship with the USCG. They are the government agency I have to deal with the most in my life at sea.

They do a lot of good things. They protect our waterways, conduct vessel inspections, enforce the safety regulations. They license the people who work on the water. Their search and rescue operations are absolutely heroic. I am relieved to know they’re out there and ready to help if I ever need them.

I do have a lot of issues with them in some other areas, mostly to do with licensing of mariners. I know they’re ‘only doing their job’ and following the rules. But those rules are pretty damned complicated and a lot of them are up for differing interpretations.

As a mariner, I can not work without getting some sort of license from the USCG. In other words, beg permission from the federal government in order to earn a living. Yes, I really do have problems with that.

Besides the philosophical objections, I don’t really think it’s at all necessary to make it as difficult and complicated as it is. Not just that earning the license is difficult (it is), but that the rule making process is so long, drawn out and what comes out at the end is something that almost always makes life more difficult (and expensive) for the mariner just trying to earn a living. We have no clout in Washington DC where the rules are made. 😦

That’s not all due to the Coast Guard, in fact most of it is simply due to how the political system works (or not) in the US today. Rules are proposed, dozens of different stakeholders make changes and what comes out is a twisted mess of spaghetti that almost never helps the mariners who are the ones who have to deal with it. 😦


4 thoughts on “A to Z: USCG

  1. One reason I can’t get behind the Coast Guard (straight from their website):

    “As the United States’ primary maritime law enforcement agency, the Coast Guard is tasked with enforcing immigration law at sea. The Coast Guard conducts patrols and coordinates with other federal agencies and foreign countries to interdict undocumented migrants at sea, denying them entry via maritime routes to the United States, its territories and possessions. Thousands of people try to enter this country illegally every year using maritime routes, many via smuggling operations. Interdicting migrants at sea means they can be quickly returned to their countries of origin without the costly processes required if they successfully enter the United States.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeah, I’m not big on their ‘law’ enforcement activities either. I don’t really object to the government trying to stop illegal immigration. Actually, I think ALL people should be able to travel freely.

      But since things are the way they are, I have to be practical instead of philosophical and try to protect the people who already live here.

      The problem I have with illegal immigration is that the US has a welfare system now that it did NOT have back when the irish, italians, polish, etc were coming in great waves. They all had to work hard, learn English, survive with the help of their friends, family, COMMUNITY.

      Now, if they make it over the border, we give them all kinds of “free’ stuff. I do not think it is something the government should be involved in here, that is no part of it’s function according to the Constitution, it’s ONLY proper role is to PROTECT our rights. Rights we ALREADY had, before there was ever any government. Now, they wind up stealing more in taxes to pay for all this ‘free’ stuff, they put more restrictions on our ability to work or travel (REAL ID, etc), etc and I really don’t like that.


  2. The wholesale surrender to the STCW convention has been an unmitigated disaster for everyone involved, in my opinion, and that includes the coast guard. Whoever thought that it would be a good idea to ape the regulations designed by corrupt banana republics to cash in on their own mariners’ foreign income while ceding more control to less developed nations needs to get taken out behind the barn for an Ol’ Yeller… and now we’ve got for-profit schools that wield more power over us, and over the coast guard, as well, adding to the number of outstretched hands we have to fill before we can just go to work.
    I’m one of the only mariners I know who was able to just walk into an REC and take the able seaman exam and do the practical seamanship demo, rather than going to some school. I don’t even know if they still offer that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally agree with everything you said on STCW Paul. I hate it that ‘we’ sold out on that! It’s just a huge scam to force us all out of work and so companies can freely hire cheap foreign labor. I was just forced to ‘train’ my cheap foreign replacement (Romanian) and so lost my job. I don’t think I could really train somebody in less than 1 month onboard, but the company thought that was perfectly acceptable.

      After all, if everyone in the world has the “exact same training’, then why hire an expensive American sailor when you can get an entire crew of Phillipinos for the same price?

      I want to know why, if it’s the “exact same training”, I can’t go somewhere like the Phillipines to take those courses where it’s more affordable? NO, I’m NOT allowed to do that, the USCG will ONLY accept courses taken in the USA and approved by the USCG!

      The schools have a lot more influence in congress than the mariners. Just another scam to force us out of work and give them more low paying jobs instead of ours that did pay half way decent wages.
      I haven’t learned anything new in any of those expensive required classes. A fire is a fire, it’s caused by the same things it’s always been caused by, it’s fought the same way it’s always been fought. Nothing’s changed. Same with the other courses. I think people learned what they had to perfectly well in the old days of onboard training. After all, we DO still have some old timers grandfathered into the system. They’re still sailing. If their training was so horribly unsafe, then why would they still be allowed to work?

      No, you can’t go offshore without paying for at minimum basic safety training (tho you can still work inland). AND, now we have to go pay again to renew that course every 5 years regardless of how much time we spend at sea and doing the exact same things as taught in that class in drills every week!

      I could have done the same thing you did when you got your AB. Only reason I went to AB/QMED school (2 yr program like workboat PMI offers now) is that being female back then (early 70s) was a HUGE disadvantage! If I managed to get onboard, I was threatened with being thrown overboard half the time with assholes that wouldn’t take no for an answer! I figured if I could get official ticket from the USCG I might be able to go to work with a better class of people. It worked. 😉


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