I am often as the question, “Do I need the Master or the OUPV license?” The answer depends on what you want to do with the license.
The OUPV (Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel) license allows the holder to carry six or fewer passengers on a power driven vessel. This is the most common license held by fishing guides and the operators of small tour boat and, unless you are planning on carrying more than six passengers, it is all the license you will ever need.
- To qualify for an OUPV license you need to document 360 days of experience in the operation of vessels; if 90 days of this experience is on ocean waters you can get a Near Coastal route (good to 100 miles offshore). Without the experience on ocean waters you OUPV license will be limited to all inland waters of the United States.
The Master license authorizes the mariner to serve as captain of both inspected and uninspected passenger vessels within the authority of the license, it also authorizes the authority to operate other types of vessels (within the authority of the license), such as crewboats, offshore supply vessels, oil spill response vessels, cargo vessels and tank vessels. A license as Mate authorizes the mariner to operate any uninspected passenger vessel less than 100 gross tons and to serve as second captain on the other aforementioned vessels within the authority of the license.
- To qualify for Master 100 ton or less near coastal you need to document 720 days of sea service experience that includes 360 days on ocean waters; for Master inland the sea service is reduced to 360 days.
- To qualify for Mate 200 ton or less near coastal you need to document 360 days of sea service experience that includes 180 days on ocean waters; for Mate inland the sea service is reduced to 180 days.