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General Requirements, STCW Certificates, Endorsements & Training Required for GMDSS Radio Operator Certificate of Competence

gmdss radio operator

The role of a GMDSS Radio Operator of high importance in the maritime industry and they are responsible for efficiently operating the GMDSS equipment. They have primary responsibility for radio communications during distress incidents. GMDSS is an internationally agreed set of safety procedures, equipment types and communication protocols that are used to increase safety and make it easier to rescue distressed vessels and help establish strong communication between the control room and the ships or marine aircrafts.

The GMDSS systems are designed to perform the functions such as alerting, search and rescue coordination, locating (homing), maritime safety information broadcasts, general communications, and bridge-to-bridge communications. There are also back-up systems for alerting, distress and emergency sources of power. The specific requirements for radio carriage depend on a ship’s operating area and tonnage.

The GMDSS operator performs the function of operating the GMDSS system, transmitting information across two levels, determining and locating vessel's position and providing safety and security assistance to on-board vessels. Other specific duties in maritime sector include - operate radio equipment in order to communicate with ships, marine aircraft, offshore oil rigs, and other remote operations; broadcast weather reports and warnings; and more.

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GMDSS radio operator is a person who is qualified in accordance with the provisions of chapter IV of the STCW Convention


Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) Certificates

  • If you are in charge of distress and safety communications on a ship required to comply with GMDSS, then you need to hold a GMDSS certificate. There are two types of GMDSS certificates:
  • The general operator’s certificate (GOC), for personnel assigned to radio communication duties on deep-sea ships operating beyond VHF coast station coverage.
  • The restricted operator’s certificate (ROC), for personnel on board ships operating only in sea areas within VHF coverage (coastal areas).
  • The type of certificate you need (and the communications equipment needed on board) depends on the GMDSS sea area (or areas) in which the ship you are serving on operates.
  • GMDSS is mandatory for all ocean-going passenger ships (carrying more than 12 passengers) and cargo ships of 300 gross tonnage and upwards on international voyages.
  • All seafarers performing navigation duties at operational and management levels (master and officers), and any other person assigned to radio communication duties, need to hold a GMDSS certificate.
  • If you are in charge of radio communications on a ship not required to participate in GMDSS, then you are not required to hold GMDSS certification.

General Requirements to Obtain a CoC as a GMDSS Radio Operator

  • Age: be not less than 18 years of age.
  • Education & Training: have completed a period of approved education and training and meet the standard of competence.

STCW Certificates, Endorsements & Training Required for GMDSS Radio Operator

gmdss radio operator certificates
      Table:GMDSS Radio Operator certificates and training requirements. Credits: ITWF

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