STCW is an acronym for Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers. 95 refers to the year the member nations of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted an updated version of the STCW 78 international agreement.

In the absence of any international standards, the IMO wrote and adopted the original STCW requirements in July 1978. The agreement became international law when no less than 25 nations, representing at least 50% of the world's merchant ships (over 100 tons), signed it. This happened on April 28, 1984.

By 1992, after several high profile maritime casualties, the Council of the IMO realized that the 1978 requirements did not adequately ensure that competent persons were operating the newer, larger, faster, and technologically-advanced vessels not envisioned in 1978. The Secretary General of the IMO, in cooperation with the International Labor Organization (ILO), initiated a complete review and revision of the 1978 agreement.

By July of 1995, the process was finalized with the adoption of a package of amendments to the STCW 78 Convention at an IMO Diplomatic Conference. The 95 Convention entered into force on 1 February 1997. In the United States, the US Coast Guard issued its Interim Final Rule that adopts the provisions of the convention and brings American Regulations into alignment with STCW 95.

Who Is Affected By STCW 95?

Government, ship owners, ship operators, and individual seafarers are all affected by STCW 95. STCW 95 is arguably the most important development concerning the improvement of maritime safety in over two decades. The competence of seafarers is a critical factor in the safe and efficient operation of ships. Only STCW 95 endorsements will be recognized by the USCG and their equivalent agencies (Port State Control) of nations signatory to the STCW 95 Convention.

All Seafarers

Advanced Fire Fighting - Any seafarer who may be designed to control fire fighting operations or lead a fire fighting team (any officer) must complete advanced training in techniques for fighting fire with emphasis on organization, tactics, and command. The requirement for this training is once in a lifetime, and proficiency must be demonstrated every five years as part of STCW Basic Safety Training. Advanced Fire Fighting is not required for license renewal, but is required for license upgrading.

Basic Safety Training (BST) - All ocean-going mariners, are required to demonstrate BST proficiency by completing a USCG approved course. You will be required to prove proficiency every five years. As per USCG policy letter 12-01, "A mariner who has met the requirements for initial competency in BST, and who is actively serving on seagoing ships, will be considered as having demonstrated continuing competence in BST, provided he or she completes at least one year of sea service within the past five years." If a mariner does not have a full year of sea service, he or she must complete our BST class or an equivalent USCG approved BST course.

Basic Safety Training consists of the following four elements:

  • Personal Survival - survival suits, hypothermia, liferafts, basic actions in emergency, etc.
  • Elementary First Aid - basic, immediate, and emergency response to the most common shipboard injury emergencies, including CPR.
  • Elementary Fire Fighting and Fire Prevention - types/classes of fires, prevention, hazard awareness, methods of fire extinguishment, structure of incident response team, appropriate equipment, personal safety, team support, and live exercises.
  • Personal Safety & Social Responsibility - types of shipboard emergencies, alarms and signals, initial actions, personal/protective safety equipment, effects of pollution, pollution prevention, safe working practices, enclosed spaces, accident prevention, sexual harassment, individual rights, drug and alcohol awareness, and prevention of abuse.

Survival Craft and Rescue Boat Training (Other Than Fast Rescue Boats) - All Deck and Engineering Officers must hold a certificate of proficiency in the operation of Survival Craft and Rescue Boats. This is once in a lifetime requirement. You must know the types and outfits of survival craft, launching and recovering such craft, engine operations, managing survivors and craft after abandoning ship, hypothermia, signaling devices, and injury management with first aid. Those who do not have a Lifeboatman endorsement will need to obtain this endorsement.

Vessel Familiarization - Prior to assuming your duties aboard a vessel you must be given training that is specific to the ship you must be given training that is specific to the ship you are employed aboard. This basic training is a company responsibility. It encompasses your personal emergency equipment, emergency station duties, cargo considerations, fixed and portable safety and emergency equipment aboard and its location, work area access and egress, and other ship or job specific duties and considerations as appropriate. Those who have demonstrated competence (past service) on the same or similar vessels and billet should (may) be given credit for the required training.

Tank Personnel

Tankerman Requirements - The U.S. Tankerman Regulations require that officers in charge of cargo operations (generally deck officers) on self-propelled tank vessels must be certified as Tankerman PIC (Person In Charge). For deck officers on any tank vessel sailing beyond the boundary line, their STCW 95 certificates must be endorsed as "Valid for Service on Tankships Carrying DL and/or LG Cargoes." The DL (dangerous liquids) endorsement covers both oil and chemical tankers, and the LG endorsement covers liquefied gas cargoes.

  • After March 31, 1997, all Masters and Chief Mates service aboard tank vessels must have their Merchant Mariner Documents (MMD) endorsed as Tankerman PIC upon renewal. Because of the OPA-90 work hour limitations and the need for mates to act as PIC's during cargo transfers, all mates should obtain this endorsement.
  • An approved Tankship Familiarization Course, as well as fire fighting, recency of service (tanker sailing time), and service in PIC capacity or proof of cargo transfers, are required to obtain these endorsements.
  • Also, after this date, all Chief Engineers and First Assistants must have their MMD's endorsed as Tankerman Engineer (or PIC) upon renewal.
  • The regulations state that engineers may not work on the cargo handling equipment unless they possess, at a minimum, a Tankerman Engineer endorsement. All MEBA tanker engineers are to obtain this endorsement or Tankerman PIC.
  • No endorsement other than a valid license is required for bunkering fuel and lube oils.

Tankship Safety DL Course (40 hour minimum):
All officers (as noted above) sailing on tank vessels must have completed this (or an equivalent) course. The MEBA course is offered at the School and at union halls on all three coasts. This course will earn you a Tankerman DL certificate that exceeds the requirements of Tankerman Engineer. Thus, the course is suitable for both MEBA Deck and Engineering Officers.

Tankship Safety LNG Course:
All officers, as noted, serving aboard LG Tankships (LNG) must have completed the LNG course. Calhoon MEBA Engineering School offers thsi course at least once per year in Easton.

Engineering Officers

As of the date of printing, under STCW, only those courses required of all seafarers (Advanced Fire Fighting, Basic Safety Training, and Survival Craft) are required for engineering officers, unless sailing aboard tank vessels. However, engineering officers are encouraged to take GMDSS, Medical Care PIC, and Ship's Management, when possible.

Deck Officers

Deck officers experience the largest impact as a result of STCW 95's additional training requirements. In addition to those courses required of all seafarers, the following course is required of all deck officers:

Bridge Team/Resource Management - You must attend the BRM Course at Calhoon MEBA Engineering School and obtain a certificate of successful completion.

ARPA and GMDSS are required if your vessel is fitted with them.

ARPA - A certificate of training in Automatic Radar Plotting Aids must be achieved. This training is required only once and currently does not require renewal. USCG radar observer requirements remain unchanged at this time.

GMDSS - All officers in charge of a navigational watch on ships equipped with GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System) must hold a valid certificate as a GMDSS Operator. They must also hold a valid FCC GMDSS Operator license and have completed a minimum 70-hour course.

STCW Special Requirements

Medical Care - Persons designated to provide medical care aboard ship during a voyage must show evidence of satisfactory completion of a course (once in a lifetime) in medical first aid and medical care. The Calhoon MEBA Medical Care PIC course meets this requirements.

Ro-Ro Passenger Vessels - Masters, Officers, and ratings designated to control and unload passengers and vehicles, operate and secure hull openings, assist passengers in emergencies, etc., on Ro-Ro Passenger vessels on international voyages are required to receive specialized training.

This training will encompass crowd and crisis management, rules and codes, use of emergency equipment, familiarization training of ship specific safety and hull integrity systems, stability and trim, ro-ro deck atmosphere control, and emergency procedures.

The USCG has incorporated the training requirements as set forth in STCW 95 Regulation V/2 Table A-V/2. Calhoon MEBA Engineering School will obtain training materials and continue to monitor and adjust to these evolving requirements.

Company Requirements Under STCW 95

Under STCW 95 Regulation I/14, Ship Operators are explicitly required to ensure that:

  • All seafarers hold proper documents for the billet in which they are employed;
  • All their vessels are crewed in compliance with all safe manning requirements;
  • Training and Medical Fitness records of all employed seafarers are maintained and readily accessible;
  • All newly assigned Seafarers are given familiarization training in routine and emergency duties; and
  • The ship's complement can effectively coordinate activities in emergencies and perform all vital safety and pollution prevention duties.

These requirements are International and apply to all companies. Obviously, the training and documentation requirements must be monitored by the companies. This means that there is almost no possibility of your signing aboard a vessel without meeting all of these requirements regardless of the presence or lack of USCG oversight.


The STCW 95 regulations came into force with full compliance required on February 1, 2002. School personnel stay current on the interpretation and implementation of STCW and USCG regulations. Contact the school for individual concern and explanations.



Students’ academic records at CMES are maintained primarily in secure electronic databases. The old CMES cadet program training records are still maintained in hardcopy files. Security protocols are in place to protect both forms of records.

Students requesting transcripts must do so in writing via either mail, fax, or email. Transcript requests made by a third party will be denied. CMES only releases transcripts at our students’ request.

Calhoon MEBA Engineering School
27050 St. Michaels Road
Easton, MD 21601

(410) 822-7220

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Official CMES transcripts are embossed with the official school seal and contain the following information:

  • Student identification number, name, and mailing address
  • List of classes successfully completed
  • End dates for classes attended
  • Continuing Education Units (CEUs) earned (if applicable)

For Upper Level Electrical and Electronics Courses


  • Marine Electrical Systems
  • Marine Electric Propulsion
  • Industrial Electronics
  • Programmable Logic Controllers

The upper level electrical and electronics courses offered at the school now include only very brief reviews of fundamental electrical concepts or no review at all.
Entrants for these courses are expected to possess a basic electrical knowledge. Students that are unsure of their ability to meet this expectation should take the basic electrical self-assessment test provided through the links below.

This exam is intended to be a self-assessment in order to determine your level of competence in the areas of fundamental electrical concepts and use of basic test equipment. It is the responsibility of the prospective student to objectively determine whether they currently have the knowledge and skills necessary for entry into the upper level courses listed above. This exam will aid in making that determination. The upper level courses will contain only a brief review of electrical concepts or in some cases no review at all. Students enrolling in these courses are expected to possess a fundamental electrical background. Answers are supplied in a separate PDF file.

Electrical Self-Assessment Exam   Answer Key


Prospective students for upper level electrical and electronics courses should be capable of passing the electrical self-assessment test with a minimum score of 80%.


Renewing Your GMDSS License

The Federal Communications Commission allows people to renew their licenses online, at the Universal Licensing System home page. If this is your first visit to their web site, they will require that you register and create a password.


On February 1, 1999 the Federal Communications Commission requirement for GMDSS equipment became mandatory for cargo ships of 300 gross tons and over when traveling on international voyages or in the open sea and all passenger ships carrying twelve passengers when traveling on international voyages or in the open sea. At least two crewmembers must hold an FCC issued GMDSS Radio License. One of the operators must be assigned to communicate during a distress situation. The GMDSS regulations do not apply to vessels operating exclusively on the Great Lakes.

The IMO Convention requires all masters and mates to hold the GMDSS Radio Operator's License and attend a two week training course and demonstrate competency with operation of the GMDSS equipment. These requirements would also apply to the Radio Operator if the ship carries that position.

Since August 1, 1998 when the official Coast Guard approved program came into effect, some questions have arisen as to programs taken prior to that approval process. Additionally, consideration was given to Radio Officers and Instructors of GMDSS recognizing their knowledge and skills. The following is a tabulation of the final Coast Guard Requirements.

To qualify for an STCW-95 endorsement as GMDSS Radio Operator:

Licensed Radio Officers who received an FCC GMDSS Radio Operators License prior to August 1, 1998:

  • Show one year service as a Radio Officer while holding a CG Radio Officer license and;
  • Pass a GMDSS written exam administered by a designated examiner with a 75% grade or better, or;
  • Have completed at least a 35-hour GMDSS training course prior to August 1, 1998 and;
  • Pass a GMDSS written exam administered by a designated examiner with a 75% grade or better and;
  • Present evidence of assessment by a designated examiner for competencies contained in Table B-IV/1 of the STCW Code, or;
  • Be employed as a GMDSS Instructor with at least 140 contact hours within the five years prior to making application, and;
  • Pass a GMDSS written exam administered by a designated examiner with a 75% grade or better.

If you received an FCC GMDSS Radio Operator's License on or after August 1, 1998:

  • Successfully complete a 70-hour Coast Guard approved training course.

Licensed / Unlicensed Deck or Engine Department Mariner who received an FCC GMDSS Radio Operators License prior to August 1, 1998:

  • Have completed at least a 35-hour GMDSS training course prior to August 1, 1998 and;
  • Have completed at least a 35-hour GMDSS training course prior to August 1, 1998 and;
  • Pass a GMDSS written exam administered by a designated examiner with a 75% grade or better and;
  • Present evidence of assessment by a designated examiner for competencies contained in Table B-IV/2 of the STCW Code.

If you received an FCC GMDSS Radio Operator's License on or after August 1, 1998:

  • Successfully complete a 70-hour Coast Guard approved training course.


Online Courses



The Calhoon MEBA Engineering School is a private maritime educational facility for training members of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, as well as all maritime and related industry professionals.


To provide each of today's professional marine engineers, deck officers, and related industry professionals with internationally recognized, state of the art training and experience that enhances the safety, reliability, and profitability of their vessels and equipment, while preserving and protecting the natural environment.

The Calhoon MEBA Engineering School (CMES) does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, hiring and firing of staff, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services. CMES is  committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all MEBA members, our staff, volunteers, sub-contractors, vendors, and customers.

We are a 501(c)(3) organization.

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