What is the “Apprentice Mate (Steersman)” License?

The Apprentice Mate (Steersman) license is a training license for Mate of Towing. While this is not the only path that a mariner can use to get a Mate of Towing license; it is a relatively fast and inexpensive way to acquire a towing vessel license.

  • The Apprentice Mate (steersman) license requires 540 days (18 months) of qualifying experience that includes 12 months on towing vessels. The other 6 months of experience can come from any type or size of a vessel; including a recreational or small fishing vessel.

After the mariner gets the Apprentice Mate (steersman) license he, or she, will continue to work onboard the tug as a deckhand; but will also be receiving training as a watch-stander under the direct supervision of the mate or master. This is commonly refered to as a “Mate Training Program”.

To advance to Mate (pilot) of Towing Vessels the Apprentice Mate is required to gain 360 days experience as Apprentice Mate (steersman); complete a TOAR (Towing Officer Assessment Record); and complete an approved Radar Observer Course, if not already completed. Advance from Apprentice Mate (steersman) to Mate (Pilot) of Towing Vessels, and from Mate to Master of Towing Vessels is based on sea service experience alone; no Coast Guard exams are required.

  • Apprentice Mate (steersman) of Towing Vessels requires 540 days (18 months) of qualifying experience that includes at least 360 days on a towing vessel.
  • Mate (Pilot) of Towing Vessels requires 900 days (30 months)  of  qualifying experience that includes 360 days as Apprentice Mate (steersman) on a towing vessel while holding a license as Apprentice Mate (steersman).
  • Master of Towing Vessels requires 1440 days (48 months) of qualifying experience that includes 18 months as Mate (Pilot) onboard towing vessels while holding a license as Mate (Pilot) of Towing Vessels.

As stated, this is not the only route that a mariner can follow to get a towing vessel license, but it is the easiest and least expensive route. It can also be the shortest route if the mariner watches their sea service bench marks and gets each license as soon as he or she qualifies for it.

DD

References (eCFR online link)

  • 46 CFR 11.463 General Requirements for endorsements as Master, Mate (Pilot) and Apprentice Mate (steersman) of Towing Vessels.
  • 46 CFR 11.464 Requirements for endorsements as Master of Towing Vessels.
  • 46 CFR 11.465 Requirements for endorsements as Mate (pilot) of Towing Vessels.
  • 46 CFR 11.466 Requirements for endorsements as Apprentice Mate (steersman) or Towing Vessels.
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About Dennis

Instructor and Director at Columbia Pacific Maritime LLC
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