Because of a lack of understanding of the Merchant Mariner Credential license structure there is some confusion regarding what is ment by the term “Towing Endorsement”. In truth this term can having two meanings depending on its context.
The “Commercial Assistance Towing Endorsement” is a towing endorsement that authorizes the authority to engage in commercial assistance towing operations.
- This means that you can provide assistance towing to disabled vessels for a fee; it does not mean you can operate a tug engaged in commercial towing operations.
- The Commercial Assistance Towing Endorsement does not require any qualifying experience and can be added to any Master, Mate, or Operator license by completing an exam or approved course.
- Mariners holding an inspected license greater than 200 tons (meaning 500 tons or higher) or holding a license endorsed to operate towing vessels may engage in assistance towing without further endorsement.
A license as Master or Mate of Towing is required to operate a tug greater than 26 feet in length.
- These licenses are sometime referred to as “Towing Endorsements”, which is not entirely incorrect in terms of the Merchant Mariner Credential. However, unlike the commercial assistance towing endorsement, Master and Mate of Towing are stand alone officer endorsements issued on the MMC.
- To qualify for a license as Master or Mate of Towing the mariner must have considerable experience on towing vessels (see the Towing Pages for more information) and complete the assessments on the Towing Officer’s Assessment Record (TOAR).
- Mariners holding inspected licenses of 500 tons or higher and a completed TOAR may operate towing vessels within the authority of their license.
So when someone says that you need a “Towing Endorsement” to qualify for the job you need understand what context they are referring to: do they mean assistance towing or commercial towing operations.