Naval Academy sail training craft must be commanded by individuals who have obtained their D-qualification. There are two levels, a D-CS or Coastal Skipper, and D-OS or Offshore Skipper. A D-CS typically acts as an Executive Officer (XO) or second in command for offshore passages. They can also command a vessel during short passages in inland or near-coastal waters. The D-OS commands an offshore capable sailboat during continuous offshore passages in unfamiliar waters in all conditions. VOST coaches, OSTS volunteer instructors, and Midshipmen may earn these qualifications through their respective programs.
The qualification has several elements. Candidates must log time on the offshore vessel in a training capacity. Specific skills must be signed off by their training instructor for different levels of each qualification. The instructor and program director must recommend them, and each candidate must pass several written tests. Attendance at a Safety at Sea Seminar is required (volunteers attend free of charge). First aid and CPR qualification is also required and provided by each offshore program. Once qualified, there are refresher tests that must be maintained.
The tests are taken online, with the exception of the navigation exam, which includes written questions and plotting on a chart.
D-CS Qual exam (Coastal Skipper - act as executive officer (XO) or second in command):
Passing for each section is 70% except for the Rules of the Road section which is 90%. You are allowed two attempts for each section.
- Charts and Publications - 25 questions
- Communications - 25 questions
- Electrical - 25 questions
- Emergency Situations - 25 questions
- Electronics - 25 questions
- Engineering - 25 questions
- First Aid - 25 questions
- General Seamanship - 25 questions
- Heavy Weather - 20 questions
- Man Overboard Procedures - 25 questions
- Rules of the Road - 50 questions
- Safety - 16 questions
- Sail Theory - 25 questions
- Weather - 25 questions
D-OS Qual (Offshore Skipper - acts as Commanding Officer (CO) or first in command):
You must pass complete the required number of hours, offshore passage miles, and obtain the signatures and recommendations of your skipper, the OSTS program director, and the Director, Naval Academy Sailing to obtain your D-OS qual. This is typically done by sailing a summer block as an XO.
D-Maintaining Your Qualification
- Annual Rules of the Road (ROR) Exam (every Spring)
- Quarterly ROR Exam (every Summer and Fall)
- Nav Exam every two years
- First aid/CPR qual (every 2-3 years)
- D-qual proficiency exam every three years after D-OS obtained
- Safety at Sea Seminar attendance every five years
- Full requalification required if inactive for five years