Automatic Radar Plotting Aids (ARPA)

Automatic Radar Plotting Aids

Course Summary:

The course is intended for candidates who hold or will hold a USCG Merchant Mariner’s license and are operation or will operate vessels equipped with ARPA.

Course Length:

3 Days

Class Size:

6 Students

Pre-Registration is Required




As a prerequisite to attendance the candidate must either hold a current endorsement as Radar Observer (Unlimited) or present evidence of successful completion of a Coast Guard approved Radar Observer (Unlimited). Students are expected to be able to read and speak English. A thorough understanding of radar plotting methods (first and second triangle) is expected prior to attendance.

Course Details:

Any student successfully completing this course and presenting the course completion certificate to the U.S. Coast Guard within one year from the date of graduation will satisfy the requirements of:;

46 cfr 11.305(a)(3)(vi);46 cfr 11.307(a)(3)(vi);46 cfr 11.309(a)(4)(xiv);46 cfr 11.311(a)(3)(viii);46 cfr 11.313(a)(3)(viii);46 cfr 11.315(a)(3)(v);46 cfr 11.317(a)(3)(vii);46 cfr 11.319(a)(4)(viii);46 cfr 11.321(a)(3)(viii) and Table A-II/1 of the STCW Code, specifically NVIC 12-14 (see course approval for all task numbers).

This course provides training to mariners who wish to obtain an endorsement to their STCW – 95 certificate in conjunction with the certification as Officer in Charge of a Navigational Watch (OICNW) to allow service on ARPA equipped vessels.
As a prerequisite to attendance the student must either hold a current endorsement to their U.S. Coast Guard License as Radar Observer (Unlimited) or present proof of successful completion of a U.S. Coast Guard approved course for endorsement as Radar Observer (Unlimited) within the one year prior to the ARPA course.  The student should be proficient with radar plotting skills prior to course attendance.

The following topics are covered in the course:

  • Review of Radar Collision Avoidance Plotting
  • Possible Risks of Over-reliance on ARPA
  • Types of APRA Systems and Displays
  • IMO Performance Standards for ARPA
  • Factors Affecting System Performance and Accuracy
  • Tracking Capabilities and Limitations
  • Processing Delays
  • Operational Warnings, Their Benefits and Limitations
  • System Operational Tests
  • Methods of Target Acquisition and Limitations
  • True and Relative Vectors and Graphic Representation of Targets
  • Past Positions of Tracked Targets
  • Setting Up and Maintaining the Display (practical)


Five practical examinations will be given with each containing one or more STCW required assessments. All assessments are pass/fail and the student is required to complete all assessments successfully to pass the course.

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