Seatime Letters / Certificates of Discharge


That would be adding requirements in top of STCW, the opposite of what the USCG does currently.


So a container ship or tanker with a single main engine running on heavy fuel and on transoceanic transits doesn’t require as much skill?

Of course using only horsepower as a yardstick to the job facing the engine department of a given vessel is poppycock. It has more to do with being built under inspected vs un-inspected rules being an indication more of the nature and scope of the engineering systems required to be operated and maintained by a given department or engineer.

Would disagree on this point (not that the OSV’s are small complex ships part!) precisely because HP should not be the only measure of your experience. But if OSV licenses and DDE licenses are serving an industry segment and there are suitable operational and safety performances being achieved why should they require an unlimited license? On the other hand (and allowing for bad apples in any population) I don’t think just about any swinging stillson wrench can move from Chief OSV - regardless of horsepower - to a deep draft, foreign going vessel at the chief level and hope for acceptable performance. NOTE I said JUST about any there are always exceptions. Say for example people who have sailed in the latter trade are familiar with those bigger plants, machinery types, system sizes, may have even advanced their license a bit, etc but then went into OSV’s and advanced to CE. That guy is going to have a different outlook on life than a guy who’s been told he is mechanically inclined, became an “engineer”, likes being called chief and does not really understand the machines he is staring at, pushing the start button for or even disassembling/assembling.

Frankly I don’t think many of those latter guys read or participate in this forum though we have all sailed with them in all industry segments.


I agree wholeheartedly, but for American licenses to be recognized overseas, these requirements will be implemented with the USCG kicking and screaming. very much like the GAP Closure Training fiasco. But they will eventually bend over to foreign pressure and “capitulate” or the US will leave the IMO which I would support.


He was specifically comparing single screw and twin screw tugs.


And if the US should “capitulate” and leave the IMO, where will that leave US-flag ships and US mariners working foreign?
Will US-flag ships be detained for non-compliance with IMO rules if they should call at a foreign port? (They already have to comply with MLC to avoid detention, although US is not a signatory)

It is already difficult for US licence holders to get accepted by foreign Maritime Authorities, unless their license is fully STCW’10 compliant, not one of those many variants of “domestic” and/or “limited” licences, valid only for certain type of vessels in certain trades, or within US inland waters.

US would do better by accepting IMO and ITF rules in full and adapt their Maritime Laws and Rules accordingly. You can no longer dictate your own terms and expect the rest of the world to comply.


Sure we can as long as we give everybody money and we have really cool aircraft carriers and a big army to help everyone else.


The United States Shipping Commissioners were established by an act of Congress in 1872 to protect a seaman’s rights and to prevent “crimp” shipping. They went away around 1982 as part of Ronald Reagan’s cuts in the federal government (along with the Public Health Service Marine Hospitals.) They were actually Coast Guardsmen in civilian clothes.

The continuous discharge book AKA the “fink book” was held in disrepute among union sailors as it had a place where the master could comment on the seaman’s character. One comment such as agitator, troublemaker or union man could blacklist a sailor for years. If they didn’t want to comment on the character, the master would just make the entries in red ink so that the next shipowner would get the message that the sailor was a union man. Eventually the unions fought for and won the right for a seaman to just have the discharge form for a single voyage. I occasionally would see an “old timer” with a continuous discharge book as late as the mid-nineties.


jbtam, I am sorry you took that the wrong way. It was not directed at you. We are on the same page. I try and help people with licensing issues. I will edit that post and leave this here for the people that read it.

If I have a problem with somebody, I try and nip it in the bud privvately and if I am wrong, I put it in public.


Thanks for clearing that up. Guess I misread it.


I used it in Trinidad as a way to get more out of my crews. If they wee not great I would just write Satisfactory. Once they realized that I was a good writer, it was a great motivator. I only had to write bad stuff in there once when one crew member tried to stab another. I defended the guy who got attacked and got fired for it.


If you’re set up the CG 718A is the quickest way to do it. There a fillable PDF file available on-line(

After the carbon copy version went away I started using the form that the payroll system generated but that requires the crew member be signed off. That’s a problem if the relief misses a flight connection or whatever as I have to sign the same guy back on then there will be two discharges created for a single voyage. Or I have to wait to see who is going to show up which is not practical.

With the fillable form I can fill them out in advance and if the relief gets delayed I can just change the date.


Yeahhhh, I suspect the office would be somewhat displeased if I were to suddenly start signing off crew with with the 718A’s without a directive coming down from on high. Even if it is in the CFR’s and USC that we’re supposed to be doing it.

I’m still hoping Mr. Cavo weighs in on this too in case I’m missing something that exempts OSVs from both shipping articles and the 718A’s. If it’s in there, I haven’t seen it though.


Yes, US sailors need Seamen’s Books — just like everyone else in the world. Most foreign flag employers want to see them, and refuse to believe that the US doesn’t have them.


Not a globalist. I was just poking to get a reaction on the refugee issue. Checks and balances will keep the pendulum from swinging to far right or left.

If you can’t laugh at what is happening in the world, do what I do, turn off the news. Unfortunately until the middle regains control the right and left will believe they can ultimately win which is hogwash.

Anyway, no more politics…


I still use the carbon copy certificates of discharge. The company has them printed in books of 25. Coupled with a decent dot matrix printer, they’re great. Kind of nostalgic in a way like our old printed paper licenses.


I just checked seaman’s books from:
Marshal Islands

None of these have a blank space for the kind of comments you mention were used/abused in the US book.

I am loath to say bring them back only because they’d no doubt charge for them and possibly become another source of aggravation when you have a full book and it gets botllenecked when you need your new one.

On the plus side you are always carrying around your sea time in a single book/document all signed off / stamped and up to date. On the other hand if you have your discharges equally organized can’t see why this becomes an issue for the NMC at renewal / upgrade time.


A US Seamen’s Book would be very handy at the least and well worth whatever they charge for it. Perhaps most valuable would be that it would help US Mariners to become more employable in the rest of the world.

I’m not sure, but as I recall, a pre-MLC 2000 convention required the removal of comments from seamen’s books