Documenting Your Qualifying Experience
For sea service to count towards a Merchant Mariner Credential you must be able to document it. The Small Vessel Sea Service Form CG 719S provides an easy format to document your experience. When completing any Coast Guard forms read all the instructions on the form and follow them exactly as written. Form CG 719S is no exception. Complete one form for each vessel you are claiming experience on.
Form CG719S contains three sections; Applicant Information, Record of Underway Service, and Signature and Verification.
Section I Applicant Information
This section contains information about the applicant, the vessel and the body of water the vessel was operated on.
Information for the vessel should come from either the vessel’s state registration or federal certificate of documentation. If your vessel is state registered it may not have a name; if it is federally documented it will have a name and an official number. For most vessel propulsion is motor; meaning either a gasoline or diesel engine.
“Served As” refers to your capacity on the vessel. In order for the experience to count towards a credential you must have had some responsibility on the vessel. If you were a passenger with no responsibilities the service will not count towards an endorsement, but if you handled lines, steered the boat, helped watch out for approaching vessel or even cleaned the deck you had a position of responsibility. The best thing to do is keep it simple; operator or master means that you were the person in charge, mate means that you steered the boat when the master was not at on the bridge and deckhand means that you handled lines, served as helmsman, stood lookout or cleaned the deck.
Be as descriptive as possible when documenting the body of waters the vessel was operated on. If you operated on ocean waters include the name of the ocean. The Columbia River describes an inland waterway, but the Columbia River and North Pacific Ocean between Newport, OR and Westport, WA. describes both inland and ocean waters.
Section II Record of Underway Service
This section is where you count your days of experience; treat it like a calendar. List the number of days that you were underway for each month of each year, based on your best memory. The total number of days from section represents your total experience on the indicated vessel for the five year period indicated.
Underway means that the vessel was not tied to the dock or at anchor. Sea service is counted in eighthour calendar days where any day that you were underway for more than four-hours counts as one day of experience.
Average distance offshore means distance from the shoreline. Even on inland waters this could be a half mile or more.
The remaining boxes in this section is where you divide your total service between Great Lakes, Inland and Ocean. The boundary line means the dividing line between the International and Inland Rules of the Road. It is labeled on charts as the “COLREGS Demarcation Line”. Experience seaward of this line is counted as Ocean service, experience shoreward of this line is counted as Inland service.
The exception is SE Alaska, the inside passage, Strait of Juan de Fuca east of Port Angeles and Puget Sound is consider Inland waters for the purpose of determining qualifying experience.
Section III Signature and Verification
Completing this section is considered documenting your sea service experience. It must be signed by the applicant and the vessel owner, operator or master.
If the applicant was the vessel owner than proof of ownership, such as state registration or vessel documentation, must be included.
It is the mariners responsibility to keep track of his sea service experience. The Coast Guard does not maintain a running tally and holding an endorsement does not document experience. Keep copies of everything.