Towing endorsements are the most commonly misunderstood of all the officer endorsements.
First of all Master of Towing and Mate of Towing have no tonnage limitations and does not require the mariner to hold an inspected vessel officer endorsement. Master of Towing, Mate of Towing, and Apprentice Mate (Steersman) of Towing are all endorsements in themselves. The requirements to qualify for a towing endorsement are clearly defined in 46 CFR Parts 11.463 through 11.466.
These regulations identify the primary path for Towing Vessel endorsements as:
- Apprentice Mate (Steersman) of Towing Vessels. This endorsement requires 540 days of total sea service experience that includes 360 days of towing vessels.
- Mate (Pilot) of Towing Vessels. This endorsement requires 900 days of total sea service experience that includes 360 days while holding an Apprentice Mate (steersman) of Towing Vessels, and completion of the T.O.A.R. (Towing Officer Assessment Record).
- Master of Towing. This endorsement requires 1440 days of total sea service experience that includes 540 days as Mate of Towing while holding an endorsement as Mate (Pilot) of Towing Vessels.
Alternative paths for mariners holding existing officer endorsements include:
- An alternative path to Mate or Master of Towing intended for mariners holding inspected vessel endorsements of 500 GRT or higher is to complete 30 days of training and observation on towing vessels, and complete a T.O.A.R. and they may operate any towing vessel within the limitations on their endorsement.
- An alternative path to Mate of Towing indented for mariners holding Master (inspected vessels) 200 tons or less is to complete 3-years as Master of inspected vessels operated under the authority of the Master endorsement, complete the Apprentice Mate exams, and 30 days of training and observation on towing vessels, and complete a T.O.A.R. and they will be issued a Mate of towing
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