It is possible to advance from the Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) entry level rating of Ordinary Seaman (OS) to Master of Towing Vessels in four calendar years without taking any exams at the Coast Guard. This is not a loop-hole; it is a path clearly established in the federal regulations. To make this happen the mariner must:
- Get an OS endorsement; this entry level endorsement requires no sea service experience or training, but is required for a mariner to work on seagoing tugs greater than 100 Gross Registered Tons. Click here to visit the OS and AB page on my website for more information >>
- Apply for the MMC endorsement indicated at each sea service benchmark listed.
- Be contracted to work 12-hours a day on a towing vessel using a two-watch system; sea service for mariners working 12-hours a day on a two-watch system counts as 1.5 days for each 12-hour day worked.
- Work a minimum of eight-months each calendar year; 8 months (240 days) working 12-hours a days counts as 360-days of sea service experience.
The first benchmark is 540 days (360 12-hour days) that includes 360 days (240 12-hour days) on towing vessels. At this benchmark the mariner should apply for the Apprentice Mate (Steersman) of Towing Vessels. Columbia Pacific Maritime as a 16-day, three class sequence for $2,000 that will satisfy the Coast Guard exam requirements for the Apprentice Mate endorsement. Once this endorsement is placed in the mariner’s MMC then they are gaining sea service experience as an Apprentice Mate. During the mariner’s time as Apprentice Mate they should be working with their employer to complete the onboard assessments for the TOAR (Towing Officer’s Assessment Record).
The second benchmark is 360 days (240 12-hour days) of experience as Apprentice Mate. Upon reaching this benchmark the mariner should have complete their TOAR, and a Radar Observer Class (Columbia Pacific Maritime offers a 5-day Radar Observer Unlimited class for $800). Upon meeting the sea service and training requirements for this benchmark the mariner is ready to apply for Mate (Pilot) of Towing Vessels. Once this endorsement is placed on the mariner’s MMC they may sail in the position of Mate on a towing vessel, and start gaining sea service experience as Mate of Towing.
The third and final benchmark is 540 days (360 12-hour days) sailing as Mate of Towing. Upon meeting this sea service requirement the mariner may apply for Master of Towing.
For more information on the sea service requirements for Towing Vessel endorsement please visit the Towing Vessel page on my website >>