Which Way to Mate of Towing

With one exception, you must hold and sail on an MMC endorsement of Mate (Pilot) of Towing Vessels before you can qualify for Master of Towing. The exception is holding a  MMC endorsement as Master 500 tons or higher. For mariners working on towing vessel there are two paths to mate of Towing; Apprentice Mate (Steersman) and Mate 500 ton or higher. The path that is best for you depends on how much sea service experience you have.

If you are just starting your towing vessel career than the Apprentice Mate (Steersman) path is likely the best path. The big advantage of the Apprentice Mate is that all the exams may be satisfied by taking an approved course, The sea service requirements for the Apprentice Mate is 540 total days, that include 360 days on towing vessels. The other 180 days can come from experience on any type or size of vessel; such as a skiff power by an outboard, a ski-boat, or any other recreational or commercial craft. Once you have the sea service experience you can apply for and complete the classes for the Apprentice Mate. To qualify for Mate (Pilot) of Towing you need to gain another 360 days of experience on towing vessels, while holding the Apprentice Mate endorsement, and complete the TOAR (Towing Officer Assessment Record) and a Radar Observer Course. This path requires two-years (720 days) of total experience on towing vessels to get the Mate (Pilot) of Towing endorsement.

If you have been a career deckhand with years and years of experience on towing vessels than the faster path may be for you to get the Mate 500 ton endorsement. To qualify for Mate 500 tons you will need to document two-years (720 days) of total experience that includes one-year (360 days) on vessels greater than 50 tons, and 90 days as Able Seaman (AB) on vessels greater than 50 tons while holding an endorsement as AB. In addition to documenting this sea service experience the mariner must also complete an Advanced Fire Fighting course, and a Radar Observer course. Once these requirements have been met the mariner may apply for the Mate 500 ton endorsement. Upon approval of the application the mariner will receive a letter stating that they are approved to test and have one year to complete the exams. Preparing to test at a Coast Guard Regional Exam Center (REC) generally takes from a few weeks to a few months of license prep, depending on the individual. A mariner holding a Mate 500 ton endorsement, and having 30 days of training and observation on towing vessels, and a completed TOAR may sail as mate on any towing vessel within the restrictions on the Mate endorsement. This path requires two-years of total sea service experience, with only 30 days experience on towing vessels.

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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)

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New Web Address for the NMC

The National Maritime Center (NMC) has a new website with a new web address. Goto the new NMC website >>


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Do You Need a TWIC?

USCG Policy Letter 11-15 states who is not required to enroll in the TWIC program. The short answer is two part.

  1. If you have NEVER enrolled in the TWIC program than you will need to enroll in it for the original issuance of any Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC).
  2. If you have enrolled in the TWIC program at sometime in the past than you do not need to enroll again, even if you TWIC is not valid, for an OUPV or Master 100 ton endorsements.

If you meet the exemption requirements for the TWIC, and you would like to obtain an original MMC or renew an MMC without the TWIC, than check the box on the Application Form 719B, Section III Safety and Suitability, paragraph 1. BUT read the paragraph; it states that you understand that this could cause significate delays in the application process.

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How to Get a Captain License

Getting a professional mariner license, AKA Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC), is not a spontaneous action; it is a process that requires planning and perseverance. The application that you present to the Coast Guard will consist of several CG 719 series forms, along with copies of certificates and documents. The total number will depend on what you are applying for. When completing the Coast Guard forms, read the instructions on the form carefully and complete the form exactly as stated in the instructions. Never send any original documents with the application, always send copies; and always make copies of all the CG forms for your records. Here is an outline of the process:

  1. The first step is to research the professional credential that you need for the job; and the sea service requirements for the credential.
  2. The second step is to document your qualifying sea service to insure that you have the necessary experience. Sea service is a measurement of your lifetime experience on the water, it is measured in calendar days, and never expires. Any day that you were on a vessel of any size or type; had a position of responsibility, such as operator or deckhand, and were away from the dock counts as one calendar day. Use the small vessel sea service form CG 719S to document this experience.
  3. Once you have documented your qualifying experience you will need to enroll in the TWIC program. This is done at a Universal Enrollment Center (UEC) operated by TSA. Enrollment in the TWIC program is required for every application for an original issue of any MMC, without exception.
  4. Next you need to get a Merchant Mariner Physical Exam using form CG 719K, and a USCG/DOT drug screening using form CG 719P. The physical exam may be completed by any doctor, but using a doctor at a health occupational clinic is generally less expensive and less time consuming.
  5. For the original issue of an MMC officer endorsement, such as OUPV or Master, the applicant must complete an American Red Cross or American Heart Association First Aid/CPR course within one year of the application date.
  6. Complete the application form CG 719B. This will include having a notary administer the Merchant Mariner Oath, and paying the application fees online.
  7. The application package, consisting of the CG 719 series forms and copies of your TWIC and First Aid/CPR cards, must be delivered to one of the USCG Regional Exam Centers (REC) around the nation. Delivery may be done in person, using a postal mail service, email, or fax. If delivery is made in person then the personal at the REC can accept the application fees over the counter, and administer the Merchant Mariner Oath.
  8. Upon approval of your application you will receive a letter from the US Coast Guard stating that you are approved to test. At this time you can either complete an approved course, or complete the exams at the REC. If you completed the course before applying for the credential simply include a copy of the course completion certificate with your application package.

All the USCG forms, professional requirements, and approved course information is available at: www.ColumbiaPacificMaritime.com

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Whale Watching Boat Captain Needed

Captain Needed

Whale Watching Captain needed

Maya’s Legacy Whale Watching in the San Juan Islands, Washington, is in need of some captains to operate the very close up and personal Orca Whale watching tours. Please contact Spencer Domico at 360-378-7996 for more information.

Mary’s Legacy Whale Watching >>

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Tug AB needed

Olympic Tug and Barge in Seattle is looking for an AB. Click here for more information >>

AB is a journeyman deckhand position required for seagoing vessels greater than 100 GRT. Holding a Master, Mate, or OUPV does not qualify you as AB, you must have the endorsement. You can use the same sea service that you used for a Master, Mate, or OUPV to qualify you for the AB. Click here for more information on the AB >>

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