Which License: OUPV or Master?

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)


About Dennis

Instructor and Director at Columbia Pacific Maritime LLC
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