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US Coast Guard Announces OICNW Program Changes

OICNW Training Programs

Third Mate Unlimited or Mate 500/1600/3000 tons


The USCG recently announced some new options for OICNW Candidates. For the last ten years, the USCG has required a series of courses that make up our 26 week OICNW Program. These courses fulfill training and assessment criteria and are all USCG approved. They also serve as an excellent practical training method as well as preparation for the extensive and comprehensive USCG Examinations.


On the 1st of July 2011, the USCG published a policy letter (11-07) that updates these requirements. The intent is to give experienced mariners a way to opt out of some of the training and have the relevant assessments completed onboard their vessel or on a simulator without a corresponding training course.


MPT is offering two primary routes to the OICNW certification:


1)      Our currently approved series of courses that mariners have been very successful with for ten years that offer comprehensive training and all of the assessments, OR


2)      A shorter series of courses that will satisfy new requirements and provide a means to prep for the test and get practical assessment exams completed.


Our students will have the choice of which way to go. So how do you decide. It seems like a no brainer right, shorter course, less tuition, sounds great. However there are still a lot of reasons for many students to take the whole 26 week program.


The shorter program is designed to allow mariners who have had onboard training or military training or have been self taught in the course material that would otherwise be included in the program to “clep” out of the training and simply take the written and practical exams (assessments).


We have found over the ten years of running this program that even our most experienced students benefited greatly from the training, especially in courses like ship handling or meteorology where it is so difficult to obtain real life experience with these subjects without a course. They also attributed the training to their high pass rate on the exam, most successful on the first try.


As you can see below, there are a lot of options these days due to the recent new policy letter published by the USCG National Maritime Center. Until last week, option number one was the only choice. It is still the best choice, but for those with time or financial constraints, MPT will help you with the solution that fits your situation the best.


We have noticed that most of our students are opting for the full 26 week program because of the higher learning curve, completion of assessments and preparation for all exams through instructor led training courses as well as meeting all of the training prerequisites for the future upgrade to chief mate/master which requires the information taught in this program to enter the advanced subjects.


Companies have also expressed a desire to hire the best trained mates due to insurance requirements and greater flexibility with port state control and foreign administrations when an equivalency is needed to work on a foreign flagged vessel. Therefore hawsepiper candidates that are competing with academy graduates have an advantage when they have taken a complete program such as option number one here at MPT for their transition to an officer’s license.


The USCG has not made any commitment to these changes being permanent and we are all awaiting the new policy letters to be released for the January 2012 amendments to STCW which could reinstate the full option number one training requirements. If you are choosing a shorter option, we do recommend that you try and complete the training and examinations as soon as possible. Please contact an MPT Career Counselor to help you make your decision.


26 weeks

ALL OICNW training (Medical First Aid, Electronic Navigation, Shiphandling &Steering, Stability and Ships Construction, Cargo Handling, Meteorology, Search and Rescue, Celestial Navigation, Terrestrial and Coastal Navigation, Prep course, Emergency Procedures, BRM, Watch keeping, Compass, ARPA, Radar, Adv Fire, GMDSS, Flashing Light.)

ALL assessments, with training included

Full Prep for exams


Why Choose Option 1 - BEST CHOICE IF:  You are not currently employed on a vessel where you can get all of your assessments, or if you desire to have the full scope of maritime training courses/subjects that STCW deems appropriate for an OICNW/Third Mate Candidate or the training that many of your shipmates have had and will still be getting in the academy setting.



17 weeks

Required training (Adv Fire, Radar, ARPA, Flashing Light, BRM, Medical First Aid, GMDSS.) PLUS  (Celestial Navigation, Terrestrial and Coastal Navigation and exam subjects prep course)

All assessments in the form of exams (no training for assessments / must know material / procedures upon arrival)* awaiting USCG approval

Full Prep for exams


Why Choose Option 2 - BEST CHOICE IF:  You have a lot of experience and prior training in the subject matter where you can complete all of your assessments without the associated training, such as ship handling, etc.



15 weeks

Limited training (adv fire, radar, arpa, flashing light, brm, gmdss, medical first aid, celestial, terrestrial and coastal nav, prep course)

Full Prep for exams

Some assessments (most must be done onboard the ship)


Why Choose Option 3 - BEST CHOICE IF:  You are currently employed on a vessel where assessments can be conducted and you have a lot of experience and prior training in the subject matter.



7 weeks

Required training only (adv fire, radar, arpa, medical first aid, flashing light, brm, gmdss)

NO Primary assessments (these must be done onboard the ship, program includes radar and arpa and flashing light assessments only)

NO Prep for exam (must home study for everything)* software and books are available at the MPT ships store to assist you


Why Choose Option 4 - BEST CHOICE IF:  If you are currently employed on a vessel where assessments can be conducted and you have a lot of experience and prior training in the subject matter AND can study for the examinations on your own.



For over 27 years MPT has offered you the best choices, with the best prices, and the most flexible scheduling with our classes running year round!