Northshore Harbormasters Association News

Harbormaster Certification a Good Idea

Harbormaster certification a good idea  Local harbormasters are all experienced and competent. But even some of them acknowledge they could use better, more unified training. A bill cosponsored by state Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, to establish uniform standards to certify harbormasters would do that. After a positive committee recommendation, it is expected to be taken up by the Legislature this fall. That is good. It is overdue. Indeed, while most communities have training requirements and standards for harbormasters, they are not consistent. Manchester Harbormaster Ronald Ramos, who is also police chief, says that, "training is often done on a catch-it-if-you-can basis." He and his five assistant harbormasters all come from the Police Department, but none of them are certified by any of the state’s three associations of harbormasters. A similar situation pertains in Ipswich, where Police Chief Charles Surpitski is also the town’s harbormaster. This is too risky, especially in an era when patrolling local waterfronts has homeland security implications and even trained police officers may not be familiar with maritime rules. Tarr, the main sponsor of the measure, is correct when he says uniform training and standards will make the state’s waters safer. And there are provisions in it that should make for a smooth transition. It will not throw out any current harbormasters. It would simply require that any new ones be certified or taking courses leading to that goal. That should give local communities the flexibility they need, since the course work and training can involve more than 350 hours over five years. It will not seek to reinvent standards that are already working. A commission that will include representatives of law enforcement officials and the three harbormaster associations will develop the course and examination requirements based on what the associations already have. A harbormaster is a public safety official. As is already the case with police and fire chiefs, it only makes common sense to establish uniform certification requirements for those in charge of area waterways.

Posted on August 5th, 2005 by Administrator in North Shore