GAP Closure Training and Licensing Delay Issues


I am a hawespiper. I did not go to an academy.

The entire US licensing system has been biased toward academy grads since the 1960s. It only gets worse and worse.

That has nothing to do with Jim Cavo or whether he would do a good job running NMC, which he would.

Bayou Joe Boss has been buying Congressmen, and the USCG, for special giveaway licenses for his bayou boys since the 1960’s. At one time USCG personnel in New Orleans were flat out caught selling licenses to Joe’s boys. Things have gotten a world better than they use to be in the oil patch, mostly because of STCW ISM, and oil company vetting.

Congress and the USCG allowed Bayou Joe to buy licenses for people with third grade educations. And he created the special OSV only licenses. By doing so, Bayou Joe discredited limited US licenses and Hawespipers. USCG Limited licenses became untrustworthy, if not a laughingstock.

Bayou Joe is still up to his old tricks. Now Joe has gotten more giveaways so his boys can upgrade from OSV licenses to unlimited licenses. Also, Joe Boss runs his own taxpayer subsidized school down in the bayou that are only for his own employees. The USCG allows Bayou Joe to give the USCG exams at the school for limited licenses, and allows Joe to issue STCW course certificates to his own boys. Everyone passes at Joe’s school. Anyone outside the Gulf sees a conflict of interest in this. Anyone outside the Gulf doubts the integrity of this.

The result is that for years many employers outside the Gulf have not trusted or had much respect for a USCG limited license. Certainly no one anywhere else in the world trusts a US limited license.

So now with Bayou Joe’s Large OSV licenses and OSV to unlimited license giveaways, and STCW certificates churned out by Joe’s own school, is it any wonder that an unlimited license is no longer enough. Now most employers outside the oil patch want to see a college B.S. degree and STCW certificates from a legitimate Maritime Academy in addition to an unlimited license.


When I crossed over from chief limited to 1st A/E, only my chief limited sea time was usable, no OSV days were counted towards my upgrade, only chief engineer sea time was allowed, no sea time was accepted where my position was "Engineer"or “Licensed Engineer” I had to test the same 5 modules that everybody else had to test, nothing was giving to me. I don’t see how anyone can go from an OSV license to unlimited, took me years and countless courses to upgrade.


But he is a Lake Master. Aren’t you in complete and utter AWE?


I don’t know of any trends so will speak on my own experience. A hawsepiper here, I was able to go to sea in '91 and get my unlimited 3rd Mates license in '95. No license prep schools, just study time, experience, the few required schools back then, and one incredible Captain who was a Kings Pointer and former Panama Canal Pilot who made sure I knew what to study and allowed me to have experiences over and above what would normally be allowed at my level.

I I’ve worked with plenty of academy graduates that were great people and highly competent. I’ve met some academy jerks as well, but they were probably jerks before they got to the academy.

I would hope an academy grad would have a better scope of knowledge when they graduate than I did when I got my original license, they went to a four year university after all.

They may have a leg up on hawspipers, but it’s still not an unattainable task. I’ve seen a few hawspipe up over the last five years or so, so it can still be done even if it is difficult.

I think it’s a good sign that some community colleges are more involved now for those who can’t get in to an academy.

There, that’s my rambling for the morning.


They’d have to make the position civilian, and when there was civilian director of the “old” NMC when it was created in 1997, it was a “SES” (senior executive) position, not a “GS” position. NMC went to a military Commanding Officer later that same year. I don’t see that position becoming civilian.

But BCMS was talking about CG-MMC, not NMC. CG-MMC is responsible for credential regulations and policy. That position is a GS-15, one level above my current position. So being in charge of CG-MMC would be a promotion.
But I am definitely not interested. They recently filled a GS-15 position for the division chief of MMC-1 (I am now in MMC-2), one of 2 offices under CG-MMC. I had applied, but withdrew after thinking it over. While retirement is not imminent (I need at least 5 more years to maximize my benefits and will have a kid in college then), it’s close enough to think about. The added monthly pay would not be that great, and the increase in retirement benefit is also not much. But, if I were in that position, I’d probably have to give up working from home 2 days a week and working a “compressed” schedule that gives me every other Monday off, I’d be on call all the time, and be limited in when and for how long I can take vacations. And I’d have to be a supervisor again, the management stuff (budgets, personnel, etc.) would keep me from the “real” work. I like the real work, I hate the supervisor stuff.

So, I appreciate the sentiment, but it won’t happen.


You weren’t allowed to use any sea time served on an OSV? Or do you mean they only counted time since you upgraded from a Chief OSV to Chief limited?

That’s because the regulations for 1AE require time as either OICEW whole holding a license as 2AE or as Chief Engineer (limited). Not time as an OICEW while holding a license as Chief limited but time AS Chief Engineer.


To cross over, I had to hold a chief engineer license and use that license, not the OSV license, only sea time accepted was the sea time I gained on vessels not OSV, had to use my chief limited license. I was chief limited before OSV licenses came about, had plenty of sea time as chief limited, just the OSV time counted for squat.


That seems like an incorrect interpretation of the rules. Time as Chief Engineer on an OSV while holding Chief Engineer (limited) should count.

(a) The minimum service required to qualify an applicant for endorsement as first assistant engineer of steam, motor, and/or gas turbine-propelled vessels is—

(1) One year of service as an assistant engineer while holding a license or MMC with a second assistant engineer endorsement; or

(2) One year of service as a chief engineer (limited) and completing the appropriate examination described in subpart I of this part.


I tried fellas…


They way it was explained to me was that the vessel has to be 1600 GRT or less, anything over that was not admissible for the crossover, all my seatime that was over 1600 GRT was not accepted, all my seatime from large OSV’s was not accepted, I had enough seatime from the old anchor boats that I was chief on to make it work, they were just under 1600 tons.


Things have changed a lot since 1995. A lot fewer deep sea ships now to get Unlimited seatime on. Back in 1995 they were just grandfathering us into STCW, no need to take $50,000 in courses back then, unlike now, after December 31, 2016.

Unless an employer or a union are providing all the courses, the courses are unaffordable for most guys.

There are now two sources of seatime over 1600 that did not exist in the past: newer and larger OSVs, and tug/barge combined tonnage (but only 2days for 1 ,and only for half the time).

Plus, in a few years there will probably be more newly required STCW courses.


Possibly good then that more community college systems are getting in to the maritime area, San Jacinto has a small but very nice campus to the east or southeast of Houston.


The cost of courses should come down as more schools get into it. It does not cost much to teach most of these courses. The Louisiana community colleges and a Clatsop in Oregan are cheapest. But the courses involve months of time away from home, meals, hotels, and travel expenses.


I understand now. Sailing as Chief Engineer under the authority of your Chief Engineer (limited) requires the vessel to be under 1,600/3,000. I expect OSV time would count just not on OSVs over 3,000 ITC.


Yes sir, I thought because of the larger tonnage on the OSV that it would help the upgrade, I had plenty of prior seatime that was accepted, some of the new guys who are only sailing on large OSVs might have problems with crossing over, The HP from the large OSVs was not accepted either,


The new guys should just get their 3AE ASAP and upgrade that way. They’ll probably have 1AE before ever sailing as Chief, which is necessary to use the upgrade route you did.


Looking back, I should have gone the 3A/E route instead of DDE unlimited, was working tugs so didn’t think I would ever need it, as soon as I had enough seatime, I upgraded to chiel limited oceans, again I thought that’s all that I would need, If any of the QMEDS that work for me asks, I steer them directly to 3rd A/E, hawsepiping is eventually going extinct, every year it gets harder, costs more money and takes more time to upgrade


It’s still cheaper and can be faster than going to college for four years.


I guess I’m not familiar with the limited A/E licenses, but I thought they were based on horsepower as opposed to tonnage.


All the dde tickets are 500 grt…dde unlimited gives you an oceans route though.
Assistant engineer limited is a 1600 grt oceans license and hp is done by calculation of hp on vessels served.