While most MMC upgrades for deck endorsements require taking USCG exams or approved an approved course, there are several upgrades that do not require an exam. These upgrades are based on qualifying sea service alone.
- Upgrading from Mate 25, 50, 100, or 200 ton to Master without changing the tonnage limitation or the route.
- Upgrading from Mate or Master 25 to 50 tons, or 50 to 100 tons without changing the route.
- Upgrade Able Seaman (AB) Special to AB Limited, or AB Limited to Unlimited.
Other upgrades for MMC deck endorsements can be accomplished by completing a USCG approved course. These courses cover only the material necessary for the upgrade, and in most cases a much shorter that the original course. Please call us at (503) 841-6066 or visit the upgrade page of our website for more information on upgrade classes.
There are many miss-conceptions about sea service experience; but here are the facts. Sea service experience is a measurement of your experience on vessels. It accumulates over your lifetime, and it never expires, and is not “used up” when you apply for a Merchant Mariner Credential endorsement. There is no minimum size that a vessel must be for it count, BUT you must be able to document it for it to count.
Must of us will use Coast Guard Form 719S, Small Vessel Sea Service Form, to document our sea service experience. Use one form for each vessel you wish to document your sea service experience on. Read the instructions on the form and complete it exactly as per the instructions. have the owner, operator, or person in charge of the vessel sign the form, OR provide proof of ownership when documenting experience on vessels owned by the applicant. Proof of ownership is a copy of either the state registration or the Certificate of Documentation (COD) issued by the US Coast Guard.
With one exception, you must hold and sail on an MMC endorsement of Mate (Pilot) of Towing Vessels before you can qualify for Master of Towing. The exception is holding a MMC endorsement as Master 500 tons or higher. For mariners working on towing vessel there are two paths to mate of Towing; Apprentice Mate (Steersman) and Mate 500 ton or higher. The path that is best for you depends on how much sea service experience you have.
If you are just starting your towing vessel career than the Apprentice Mate (Steersman) path is likely the best path. The big advantage of the Apprentice Mate is that all the exams may be satisfied by taking an approved course, The sea service requirements for the Apprentice Mate is 540 total days, that include 360 days on towing vessels. The other 180 days can come from experience on any type or size of vessel; such as a skiff power by an outboard, a ski-boat, or any other recreational or commercial craft. Once you have the sea service experience you can apply for and complete the classes for the Apprentice Mate. To qualify for Mate (Pilot) of Towing you need to gain another 360 days of experience on towing vessels, while holding the Apprentice Mate endorsement, and complete the TOAR (Towing Officer Assessment Record) and a Radar Observer Course. This path requires two-years (720 days) of total experience on towing vessels to get the Mate (Pilot) of Towing endorsement.
If you have been a career deckhand with years and years of experience on towing vessels than the faster path may be for you to get the Mate 500 ton endorsement. To qualify for Mate 500 tons you will need to document two-years (720 days) of total experience that includes one-year (360 days) on vessels greater than 50 tons, and 90 days as Able Seaman (AB) on vessels greater than 50 tons while holding an endorsement as AB. In addition to documenting this sea service experience the mariner must also complete an Advanced Fire Fighting course, and a Radar Observer course. Once these requirements have been met the mariner may apply for the Mate 500 ton endorsement. Upon approval of the application the mariner will receive a letter stating that they are approved to test and have one year to complete the exams. Preparing to test at a Coast Guard Regional Exam Center (REC) generally takes from a few weeks to a few months of license prep, depending on the individual. A mariner holding a Mate 500 ton endorsement, and having 30 days of training and observation on towing vessels, and a completed TOAR may sail as mate on any towing vessel within the restrictions on the Mate endorsement. This path requires two-years of total sea service experience, with only 30 days experience on towing vessels.
I am often asked, “Which license do I need, the OUPV or the Master?”. The simple answer is if you only intend to carry a maximum of six passengers than the OUPV endorsement is all you will ever need, which makes it the perfect license for fishing guides; But if you intend to carry more than six passengers, or operate an Inspected Vessel you must hold a Master endorsement.
The OUPV (Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel), or 6-pack license, authorizes the authority to operate one type of vessel, a small uninspected passenger vessel. According to federal regulations a “small uninspected passenger vessel” is a vessel of less than 100 gross registered tons (GRT) carrying six or fewer passengers, not counting the crew or operator. The term GRT has nothing to do with the weight of the vessel, it is a measurement of the volume of space within the hull; where every 100 cubic feet of volume is equal to one GRT. To determine the GRT of the vessel reference the Certificate of Documentation (COD) issued by the Coast Guard. If the vessel does not have a COD it is most likely less than 5 GRT. The OUPV endorsement is issued with either an Inland or a Near Coastal Route. An Inland route includes all navigable waters of the United States, a Near Coastal route includes all Inland waters and ocean waters within 100 miles from shore.
To carry more than six passengers, or to operate an Inspected Vessel the operator must hold a Master endorsement with an appropriate tonnage limitation for the vessel. All Inspected Vessel are issued a Certificate of Inspection (COI) by the US Coast Guard (USCG). The COI identifies the vessel and clearly state the manning requirements for the vessel, the total number of passengers the vessel may carry, the route the vessel is authorized to operate on, and all lifesaving and safety equipment required to be carried onboard. Getting a USCG safety inspection does not make the vessel an Inspected Vessel, or allow the operator to carry more than six passengers. Inspected Vessels are built, maintained, and operated to a much higher set of standards than an Uninspected Vessel.
Columbia Pacific Maritime (503-841-6066)
To stand a navigation watch on any towing vessel greater than 26 feet the mariner must hold a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) endorsement as either Master of Towing, or Mate (Pilot) of Towing. The mariner in charge of the vessel, the captain, must hold an MMC endorsement as Master of Towing. There are no tonnage limitations on these endorsements, they apply to all uninspected towing vessels and all inspected towing vessels operated under subchapter M regulations.
There are two paths described in 46 CFR 11.464 to get a Master of Towing endorsement. The primary method is to hold an MMC endorsement as Mate (Pilot) of Towing Vessels and gain 540 days (18-months) experience as mate on a towing vessel. The other method is holding an MMC endorsement as Master 500 GRT or greater, with 30 days of observation and training on a towing vessel, and a completed TOAR (Towing Officer’s Assessment Record).
There are three paths described in 46 CFR 11.465 to get a Mate (Pilot) of Towing endorsement. The primary method is to hold an MMC endorsement as Apprentice Mate (steersman) of Towing Vessels and gain 360 days of experience on towing vessels while holding the Apprentice Mate endorsement, and to complete a TOAR. Another path is to hold an MMC endorsement as Mate 500 GRT or greater, with 30 days of observation and training on a towing vessel, and a completed TOAR. The third method is the document 1080 days (3-years) experience operating inspected vessels less than 200 GRT while holding an MMC endorsement as Master 200 GRT or less (25, 50, or 100), with 90 days of observation and training on a towing vessel, a completed TOAR, and complete the Apprentice Mate (Steersman) exams.
The Apprentice Mate (Steersman) of Towing is the preferred path to Mate and Master of Towing. It is also the only path that all the exams may be completed by taking a USCG approved course. To qualify for Apprentice Mate the mariner must have 540 days (18 months) of total experience that includes at least 360 days ( 1 year) on towing vessels (reference 46 CFR 11.466).
Columbia Pacific Maritime offers 500/1600 ton license prep for mariners seeking Mate and Master of Towing vessel by getting a Mate or Master 500 ton endorsement. A more streamlined route to Mate and Master of Towing is getting an Apprentice Mate (Steersman) endorsement. Columbia Pacific Maritime offers a three course sequence that will satisfy the exam requirements for this endorsement.
- Master 100 ton (10 days, $1,200)
- Upgrade 100 to 200 tons (4 days, $600)
- Apprentice Mate (Steersman) Upgrade (2 days, $400)
For more information on towing vessel endorsements call 503-841-6066 or visit the towing page of our website (www.ColumbiaPacificMaritime.com). We are always happy to help.
Fishing industry vessels less than 200 gross registered tons (GRT) are not required to operated by mariners holding professional endorsements. Those of 200 GRT and greater must hold MMC Master or Mate of appropriate tonnage for the vessel.
Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) endorsements as Master and Mate of Uninspected Fishing Industry Vessels are issues with tonnage limitations of 500 to 5000 GRT. Mate of Fishing requires three years of total sea service experience that includes one-year on vessel greater than 50 GRT. Master of Fishing requires four years of total sea service experience that includes two years on vessels greater than 50 GRT; one of those two years must have been as master or mate while holding an MMC endorsement as master, mate, or OUPV. Reference 46 CFR 11.462 or my website for more information.
Columbia Pacific Maritime offers a three-course sequence that can be taken over 16 consecutive days that will satisfy the USCG exam requirements for Master or Mate of Fishing Vessels with tonnage limitations of from 500 to 5,000 GRT. The total cost of this sequence is $2,200. Mariners holding MMC endorsements may qualify to take the upgrade class or classes only, depending on their credentials.
- Master 100 ton (10 days, $1,200)
- Upgrade Master 100 to 200 tons (4 days, $600)
- Master / Mate of Fishing Upgrade (2 days, $400)
Columbia Pacific Maritime INC (503-841-6066)