1600 Mate NC to 3rd Mate NC

Ive applied and been given approval to test for 3rd Mate NC 2000 GRT and have already put in a request for reconsideration as I disagree with my evaluation. I’ve read a couple of threads about this and they are all inconclusive about the final outcome.

  1. I believe that there is no further testing required as I already hold 1600T Mate NC and STCW II/1 which according to multiple sources is the same exam. Page 14 of the exam guide corroborates this but I can’t find anything in the CFR to back it up?

  2. I have sent sea service letters with 1080 days over 100GRT and ATB/aggregate tug and barge tonnage for qualifying unlimited time (2 for 1 up to 50%) for the remainder. I’m not disputing that issuance with a tonnage restriction however with service letters showing 2091 GRT and 5874 GRT; I believe that I qualify for at least 3000 GRT restriction.

You shouldn’t have to test

Are they also issuing an ITC tonnage? It will be easier to lift the restriction if you also have that, it’s not automatic such that with a 2,000 GRT license you can work on a 3,500 GT vessel.

Hopefully the exam guide is the ammunition I need to avoid sitting for the test again. Its been 10 years so that knowledge base is pretty rusty.

My approval to test letter only states 2000 GRT and nothing about an equivalent GT. Several older posts I’ve read state that they do not issue a split GT anymore outside of the less or greater than 500GT STCW endorsements.

That may be true and if it is then you will likely have serious problems being able to get work on an unlimited vessel small enough for your license to be valid.

Agreed, there are very few vessels out there within that 2000 GRT realm. Which is part of the reason I am disputing the 2000 limit. All of the aggregate tonnage of my qualifying service is over that

Let’s face it, you are most likely going to need to sail as AB on a vessel over 10,000 GRT to get an Unlimited 3rd.

You might as well sign up with SUP or SIU and get after it.

Or sail as mate on a large OSV. You should be able to get a Mate OSV license right now with no extra testing or sea time and that has no tonnage limit.


This is true, and worth a try, it might work.

But he may have a difficult time getting beyond 10,000 tons, especially if he is sailing on OSVs under about 6000 GT.

Maybe do both. Apply for Mate OSV, apply for Oceans, the sail AB with SUP on a large ship over 10,000 for 90-120 days. As soon as he gets Mate OSV, start sailing Mate on OSVs.

Anything over 3,000 GT is fully unlimited, no calculations required.

1 Like

Correct me if I am wrong but if I’m reading the checklists right but 180 days in the highest grade endorsed at 1600GRT/3000GT or more is all that I’d need for a truly unlimited license.

If that is the case wouldn’t above service as a Mate on a large OSV or unlimited tonnage hopper dredge be sufficient to remove that restriction?

Yes, as long as the tonnage of the vessel is within the tonnage restriction on your 3rd mate license. That’s why you need an ITC limit on your restricted license.

I don’t know the answer.

The NMC and my license consultant told me to sail for another year over 1600/3000, and then come back for an increase. I was told that the tonnage limit would be increased by 25% of the largest vessel sailed on (I forget the time period). So I would have a tonnage limit until I surpassed 10,000 tons, then it would become unlimited.

This was during the oil field bust, so sailing on OSVs wasn’t a viable option.

I’ve attempted to backtest the math and can’t see any way it’s possible to get anything over a 3,000 GRT limit by the “150 percent of the maximum tonnage on which at least 50 percent of the service was obtained” metric without meeting the requirements to not have any limit at all.

That sounds like complete bullshit. I’m curious what they’re source for that was.

I forget what your restricted license is but 12 months as an AB on any vessel over 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT would remove all restrictions from a restricted 3rd mate unlimited.

1 Like

It seems like you should be able to make the case that if you have Mate OSV and 3rd Mate 2,000 GRT and you work as a mate on a large OSV you can claim that’s working “in the highest grade endorsed” even though you’re not working under the authority of the 3rd Mate license.

Even if they don’t count it, you would need, at most, 540 days on a large OSV (minus 50% of your combined tug and barge time) to lift the restriction. The trick might be getting on a large OSV, I don’t know how easy that is these days.

1 Like

I haven’t thought much about this for a few years, but this is from the Checklist:

“A Tonnage Limitation may be issued if 50% of the required service is not on vessels 1600 GRT or more; however, required service MUST still be on vessels 100 GRT o1 Limited to max tonnage on which 25% of experience is obtained, to the next 1,000 GRT, OR

Limited to 150% max tonnage which at least 50% of service was rounded up to the next 1,000 GRT, WHICHEVER IS GREATI Minimum tonnage calculated will be 2,000 GRT, when calculate 10,000 GRT or more, no tonnage limitations apply.”

My mis understanding was that if you had less than 50% (540 days) over 1600/3000 that the 25% tonnage rule would apply. I confused the 150% tonnage increase rule with the 25% rule.

As usual, you are correct in your calculations, and probably correct in your understanding of the application of the rules.

I gave up any hope of increasing my license long ago. I have no confidence that NMC will properly count combined tug and barge time. Nor do I want anymore 9 month requests for reconsideration.

I’m doing much better sailing as Master on under 200 ton tugs than I can do anywhere else I’m close to retirement. I was not willing to take the pay cut to sail AB or Mate to chase an unlimited license that I’d probably never use.

For a young guy, with the deep sea unions now wide open, recent wage increases, and plenty of jobs, it makes sense to sail Mate on OSVs during this boom, and/or to sail AB (and accept the pay cut) to obtain an unlimited license.

1 Like

I applied for a the addition of Third Mate unlimited national Tommy licenses to go along with the 1600 ton Master and an OSV Mate unlimited. The NMC said I needed another 550 days on 1600 ton vessels but meantime they gave me a Third Mate 2000 ton. As was mentioned before that’s the cost of sailing tugs and smaller tonnage boats for so long. Now I do have a path though. Get on some of those larger tonnage OSVs and get that unrestricted. I am not near retirement yet so my path is laid out. Good luck to all of us who keep navigation my the shifting shoals of the NMC.


It does if it results in a higher tonnage limit than the 150% rule. If you apply for third mate and your only time over 1,600 GRT is 280 days on a 8,000 GRT ship you’d get an 8,000 GRT license. Those calculations are just what’s used to calculate the initial limitation though, they’re not what’s used to remove the limitation.

Getting the NMC to actually read and comprehend any of the information I’ve sent them so far has been nearly impossible and unfortunately their current lead time to open and read emails is hovering around 3 weeks.

On the same application I also put in for 500T Master NC and was very clear in my request for the abbreviated exam allowed for upgrade from master/mate of towing vessels. Instead they approved me for 1600 Master and I have to take all 6 modules.

I also am doing quite well for myself sailing as master on tugs and the whole process has me questioning whether or not it’s truly worth the grief.