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United States Coast Guard General, Sea Service and Other Requirements for National Ballast Control Operator (BCO)

ballast control operator

The Ballast Control Operator (BCO) is the crew member responsible for controlling the vessel’s stability. A ballast tank is a compartment within a boat, ship or other floating structure such as rig and other offshore installations that holds water, which is used as ballast to provide stability for a vessel. Ballast Control is the control of balance and stability on a ship or vessel using a ballast and ballast facilitates hydrodynamic stability by lowering the centre of gravity to compensate for harsh currents and weather and keeps floating structures stable.

International agreements under the Safety of Life At Sea (SOLAS) Convention require cargo vessels and passenger ships to be constructed so as to withstand certain kinds of damage. Ballast Control and Tank Gauging System enables marine vessel operators to use reliable informative data to critically and safely manage the ballast and trim of a vessel according to operational needs, deck loading and sea conditions.

Basic function of the Ballast Control Operator (BCO) is to operate the ballast control system so as to maintain the vessel’s position, draft, and trim with respect to its location. Duties and responsibilities include (but not limited to) - ballast and de-ballast the vessel, monitor all ballast controls and related instrumentation, record reports pertaining to stability, monitor variable deck load on a daily basis, assist in supervising the transfer of bulk material, inspect ballast equipment and other marine operation and lifesaving equipment, carry out preventative maintenance on ballast control equipment and more.

ballast management

The Ballast Control Operator (BCO) is the crew member responsible for controlling the vessel’s stability


USCG Ballast Control Operator General Requirements

  • Age: 19
  • TWIC
  • Medical Certificate
  • Drug Testing Compliance
  • Sea Service Letters or Discharges

USCG Ballast Control Operator (BCO) Requirements

Sea Service Requirements

  • Recency: 90 days in the past 3 years on vessels

BCO MODU

  • 1 year of employment assigned to MODUs, WITH 28 days service (on MODU) as trainee under supervision of an individual holding a MMC endorsement as BCO, OR
  • An engineering or engineering technology degree accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET); WITH 28 days service (on MODU) as trainee under supervision of an individual holding a MMC endorsement as BCO, OR
  • Hold MMC as Master, Mate, Chief Engineer or Assistant Engineer Unlimited; WITH 28 days service (on MODU) as trainee under supervision of an individual holding a MMC endorsement as BCO
  • Stability course approved for Barge Supervisor or BCO; MODU (Surface Unit)

BCO Active Ballast

  • 1 year of employment assigned to Fixed Platform, FOI or MODU, WITH 28 days service (on Active Ballast FOI or MODU) as trainee under supervision of an individual holding a MMC endorsement as BCO, OR
  • An engineering or engineering technology degree accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET); WITH 28 days service (on Active Ballast FOI or MODU) as trainee under supervision of an individual holding a MMC endorsement as BCO, OR
  • Hold MMC as Master, Mate, Chief Engineer or Assistant Engineer Unlimited; WITH 28 days service (on Active Ballast FOI or MODU) as trainee under supervision of an individual holding a MMC endorsement as BCO
  • Hold BCO MMC for Passive Ballast FOI; WITH 28 days service on Active Ballast FOI or MODU as trainee under supervision of an individual holding a MMC endorsement as BCO
  • Stability course approved for Barge Supervisor or BCO (Active or MODU Surface Unit)

BCO Passive Ballast

  • 1 year of employment assigned to Fixed Platform, FOI or MODU, WITH 28 days service (on Active Ballast or Passive FOI or MODU) as trainee under supervision of an individual holding a MMC endorsement as BCO, OR
  • An engineering or engineering technology degree accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET); WITH 28 days service (on Active Ballast or Passive FOI or MODU) as trainee under supervision of an individual holding a MMC endorsement as BCO, OR
  • Hold MMC as Master, Mate, Chief Engineer or Assistant Engineer Unlimited; WITH 28 days service (on Active Ballast or Passive FOI or MODU) as trainee under supervision of an individual holding a MMC endorsement as BCO
  • Stability course approved for Barge Supervisor or BCO (Passive or MODU Surface Unit)
  • Recommendation Letter - signed by a Senior Company Official, certifying OJT Competencies were completed for the appropriate endorsement

Other Requirements

Disclaimer: For general information purpose - please check with USCG for the latest requirements and accurate info

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