15 Year Lineboat Chief Desires License

Good Morning All. First post here in your community and I am looking for mariners that may have been in a similar situation as me to give some advice.

I have been working on lineboats for 20 years, with over 15 years in the Engine Room Department. I have always desired to be licensed but have let others talk me out of it or talked myself out of doing it in the past. I am 40 years old now and wish to finally go ahead and take the steps towards sitting for my DDE exam. Subchapter M requirements of having a Merchant Mariner Credential with Tankerman PIC endorsement was a big factor in my decision to do this. I already have this credential, as well as the legal and professional responsibilities of the Tankerman endorsement now, so why not go ahead and begin the process? It has been a “controversial” topic for discussion among my fellow engineers at my company. The main excuses are “They don’t pay us any more money for it,” “Then you are lawfully responsible for things that normally would be company liability,” “We don’t need them, so why spend your own money to get them?” etc.

I need to obtain my Basic and Advanced Firefighting and have been searching for the best price throughout the country. Location really isn’t any issue for me but the biggest cost will be lodging. I have not managed to find any that include lodging in their course cost. After that, I plan to take the license prep course offered by The River School in Memphis, TN. It is right at one hour from my home and I can drive back and forth each of the 14 days.

I have many questions but the main question is the difficulty of the exam. There will be a lot of different systems on this exam that we do not have on lineboats and I am wondering if it was hard for some of you to grasp the concepts of systems that you were not familiar with.

If any of you can offer advice on Firefighting course recommendations, general study advice, or stories of your own experiences, I would be grateful for any and all information. Thanks everyone! I’m enjoying reading your forum and I look forward to hearing from some of you soon.

From Memphis, you are within reasonable driving distance of the many schools in the general New Orleans area.

Sea School in Bayou Labatre, Alabama provides cheap housing. The Louisiana community colleges and Clatstop in Astoria, Oregon usually have the cheapest courses in the US.

Fort Lauderdale is a cheap place to fly to, and MPTusa.com is a good school and has good hotel deals. It’s a pleasant place to vacation in the winter.

You may just want to figure out where you’d like to go for a two week vacation and take the course at a school there. If you want to go to Alaska on vacation take the course at AVTECH. Get a hotel or AirBnB instead of the AVTECH housing. If you prefer Hawaii or Puerto Rico there are schools there too.

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The firefighting and medical care provider courses offered on the navy base in San Diego with MSC are very affordable with great instructors. Catch is it may be hard to get a spot because they have to take MSC personnel needing the courses first, and your airfare and lodging costs may nullify the money you are saving.
TRL in san diego offers most of these courses as well and they use the firefighting facilities on the base. Their prices are up there, but you can vacation in beautiful san diego.
May be more economical to look at schools on the gulf coast.
With your time you can test straight for dde unlimited/ assistant engineer limited. Four modules. Most will tell you including myself that electrical is a tough module. The other three aren’t a big deal. Best thing to do is buy a thumb drive for mariner advancement and study the hell out of the manuals that come with it and practice.
Lapware is great for practice tests and requires an internet connection…in the long run a little more expensive too. You have a lot of experience so get that license. You owe it to yourself even if you may not ‘need’ it. …having it may come in handy in the future.

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^^^ This would be for wheelhouse personnel and not engineers.

I’ve never heard of a school that includes lodging in the price of their courses, but most will have deals with local hotels to get a better rate. I would also suggest looking into alternative options like airbnb or homeaway. I travel with them a lot and you can get a lot more for your money that way. If you are so inclined, consider camping nearby.

I would always encourage anyone to get whatever license they are eligible for even if its not required for their current job. You never know when you may want to pursue other jobs where it may be required and likely or not requirements can change.

Like Ctony said, electrical tends to catch the most people. I wouldn’t sweat it, even if you have to go back and retake electrical you’ll have already seen it once and you will have a good idea of what you were weak on so you can better focus your study. Plus you will only be studying a single subject. I failed electrical on my last upgrade and had to retake it, I passed easy on the retake.

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You’re right. I need to do better at reading the (whole) question…


Oops , MARAD closed the great lakes fire training academy almost two years ago. Posted what a great deal it was at $125, but now it’s gone.

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Indeed. My company sent a group of us to Toledo many years ago to take the combined course but I foolishly allowed the certificate to expire over 10 years ago. I definitely wish I had that one back.

I took my stcw courses in the puget sound, and I purchased the Mariners advancement thumb drive and took the tests on that and read the material that comes on it. The tests weren’t difficult essentially if you’ve been on a line boat for so many years. Good luck.

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Delgado (in New Orleans) has some of the cheapest prices I’ve seen but I’ve never priced their fire fighting courses specifically.


I don’t think that’s true. You may not have a license that can be revoked but if you’re onboard as Chief I think you’re as legally responsible as with a license.

@jdcavo what are your thoughts?

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I have decided on Delgado. The cost of the 5 Day Combined Basic and Advanced Firefighting Course is $650. I will be going December 10-14. I appreciate all of your advice and positive comments. All advice is welcome.

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In order to be an instructor on the fireside at Delgado, you need to have AT LEAST 10 years in New Orleans or St Bernard Fire districts. Most of the instructors are retired or active fire cheifs for their respective districts.

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The DDE test is just studying Questions and answeres and diagram questions and answeres,so its not that hard, if you have been working in the engine room this long you shouldn’t have any problems.

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Are you a practicing lawyer and member of the bar? If not you’re just a legal scholar commenting not giving an official legal opinion.

I am a member of a state and federal bar. Whether or not I practice is irrelevant. Do you have any citations to support your assertions? Any special training or experience with the rules of professional conduct for attorneys?

And, assuming you are right, and I am definitely not doing that, allow me to revise my (deleted) response to “I don’t know, and if I did know, I wouldn’t tell you.” Is that better?

Gotcha. Nevermind then.

Hello all! I wanted to revisit this thread. I can’t believe that it is one year later! I found, applied for, and received a scholarship through The Young Firm in New Orleans. I am finishing my final day of Basic and Advanced Firefighting tomorrow. There was money left on the scholarship, so I was able to complete courses for STCW Basic Training too! I didn’t need that but it’s good to have in case I want to go a different direction in the future. My next step is Medical Certificate and then submit everything to sit for my exam. My new question is this: Would you buy the thumb drive from Mariner Advancement and study your ass off or would you pay the local school $850 to basically do the same thing? The two schools near me do not have an on site engineer instructor. It will be sitting at a computer and running practice tests. I’m definitely leaning toward the thumb drive. Thoughts and experiences? At this point, the only advantage that I see is that the school submits all of your paperwork. Thanks in advance!

When I upgraded from QMED to DDE Any HP & 3rd A/E Unlimited in August It was after I used the Mariner Advancement thumb drive, The Sea Trials app for my phone, and the new USCG Study Guide Books from I think a Mass Maritime professor. They all have there pluses and minuses. Sure you can just study the tests and memorize the questions, that works. But, I found that the study guides were awesome for explaining things I hadn’t encountered before or for clarifying things I already thought i knew.


Joe Murphy is the MaMA professor, but I don’t think he has done engine books, I am pretty sure the “Murphy Books” are just for deck exams.


I have went from qmed to chief limited only using mariner advancement, hawsepipe and lapware. If i can self study, anyone can. Someone with your background would be fine.
Then again though, if you have the money and time to burn, doing a course can’t hurt.