100-ton sea-time questions

Greetings noble mariners, I, like all of you before me, have been trying to work my way through the sea time rules in order to submit for my first license and have found it to be pretty complicated and it seems to have changed many times since some of the license holders I with with first did theirs. I’ve found a number of points of contradicting information I want to clarify. Some of these points I’ve already checked with the NMC, but I’m not convinced that the person I spoke with really knew what they were talking about.

  1. Do sea time letters on company and vessel letterheads have to be notarized? Will electronic / photocopied versions be accepted?

  2. For a first-time 100-ton license, how much time if any must have been spent on the bridge / standing watches / etc as opposed to any other positions? The best answer I can find is zero, but old-school guys tell me there is supposed to have been some?
    Update: I have several hundred days of bridge time, just not ALL of my time

  3. The only way to get a license over 100-tons is to have an additional 360 days AS a license holder?

  4. Have any of you had a sea time letter rejected because it was missing a key piece of information? I’ve heard to mainly be 1000% sure I had the tonnage correct.

  5. Can time on a foreign flag vessel count as time-and-a-half if documented with the vessels IMO and/or MMSI and how would the reviewers evaluate that?

  6. I’ve heard that people run into trouble sometimes documenting time-and-a-half for smaller licenses, what do I need to lookout for there? Lots of my time is on larger vessels, frequently working as a scientist or “marine technician” or “ocean technician”.

  7. will time on vessels over 300-tons count for a 100-ton license? One maritime school’s webpage says no but I havn’t seen that elsewhere

Thanks in advance, all help is much appreciated!

I have to admit that my first license was over three decades ago, and I know the rules/requirements have changed, but #2 has me a bit perplexed.

It seems you want to be licensed as a 100-ton Master, but all your underway time was in the roles noted in #6, not as a bridge watchstander. How does that experience qualify you to be a Master? what if some evaluator says you can take the exams and you pass - what then?

Sorry if I am misinterpreting the situation, or being ignorant about the requirements.

Some time is, some isn’t. It’s my understanding that “sea-time” for licenses 100-tons and below includes time spent in a range of capacities. I have significant time running chartered vessels and skippering company vessels, just not as a license holder. I don’t have 720 days doing that though I don’t think, not quite yet…

Search on gcaptain “USCG license consultants”

The USCG is currently grossly understaffed and overwhelmed. It’s common for applications to take six months or more for processing. Hire a license consultant to help you put together your application and Shepard it through the process. It’s well worth the small expense.

Oh great! I had heard such things existed but I wasn’t sure where to look, thank you.

Notarized? No.
Electronic/photocopy? Yes.
Company letterhead and signed by the Master is all I’ve ever used, except for a few of the USCG Discharge ticket thingies. Oh yeah, and the ship’s stamp if they have one. A description of what you did on the ship, where it sailed, gross tonnage all certainly will help the evaluator.

Anyways, anything under 100 tons is approved for self-certification so you just write it up yourself and go. This is how many fishing/hunting/yacht “Captains” pop up, out of the blue, and hang a shingle in your town.


yeah, I’ve def come across a few who don’t know what the pointy end of the boat is called haha. Thanks!

Anybody have insights on the time-and-a-half certification? I’m probably going to hire a consultant, but it would be nice to know what I’m walking into here

If the letters are written up specifying 12 hour days you will get time and a half credit. There are a lot of magic words that the letters should contain. Your license consultant can provide you with the best currently accepted format for the letters, and will review your seatime letters to make sure that they do the job.


Some license consultants are: Chuck Kaksuka at SeaKs licensing, Andy Hammond, and Holly Chetta. There are at least another dozen. Typically, they are retired senior personnel from the USCG Regional Exam Centers Fees range from $150 and up. Which is nothing compared to the total cost of obtaining and maintaining a license and all the extras that you need to go with it these days.

License Prep Schools will offer licensing help for free, but they do not have the contacts inside the USCG to help as much as the licensing consultants. Also, some schools use their licensing assistance to steer you into more courses.

In contact with Holly now, thanks!!

  1. Notarized, no. Scanned and emailed, yes.

  2. Sea time is defined as time on navigational watch (or engine room watch for engineers). It is generally assumed that a deckhand has navigational responsibilities, at least on the bridge as lookout, so your sea time letter doesn’t need to say anything more than “X number days as deckhand” so day workers still get credit for sea time.

  3. No, what makes you think that? You can get a mate license of any tonnage without having any previous licensed time.

  4. I recently had a combined sea time and drug screen letter rejected because the drug screen part was worded wrong. I’ve also had time rejected once because it didn’t have the official number. Not really that big of a deal though.

  5. Maybe. Twelve hours days are generally only allowed on OSVs and tugs but they usually don’t pay much attention to the type of vessel as long as the letter says 12 hour days. Were you actually on watch for 12 hours or is that just the total of your work hours per day?

  6. I don’t think you can get time and a half for time on smaller vessels, especially if you use the small vessel Sea service form.

6.5) Time as a scientist doesn’t count towards a license.

  1. I’ve never heard the claim that it wouldn’t and have never seen anything to indicate there’s a maximum tonnage for a 100 ton license.