40 yr old would-be resident alien rating looking to obtain USCG endorsement

Good day ladies and gents,

I’m hoping someone with knowledge of the US maritime laws can help me out. I’ll very much appreciate any information.

I’m 40 years old and just got into the maritime industry. I am a Russian citizen and I completed an intensive 5 month “Rating Forming Part of a Navigational Watch” course at a recognized private maritime training center (not a college); was a Deck Cadet for 3 months and obtained my Russian STCW licenses.
I intend to work as an Ordinary Seaman for two contracts and then obtain my Able-Bodied Seaman license as soon as I pass the examination.

I happen to be married to an American citizen, and will soon be moving to the States.

I would like to know if my Russian rating endorsements will be accepted for work on a US vessel when I move. If not, will I be required to do an exam, and/or what steps will I need to take to be able to work on a vessel in the States?

Also, are there any realistic chances that I will be hired?

Thank you very much in advance.

Best regards,


Everything you need to know…


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Hi Anchorman,
Thank you for the very quick reply. I’ll take a look.

Once you get a permanent resident status (green card) you can get unlicensed credentials but you will basically have to start over.

Thank you Chief.
Do you mean I’ll have to start over as Ordinary Seaman? Will it even make any sense trying to find work with unlicensed credentials?
I’m assuming to get licensed I’ll have to take an exam or do the whole course over…

I misread your original post and didn’t realize you have a Russian License. This thread is worth reading.


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Thanks a lot Chief, was definitely a good read.
From what I gathered (someone please correct me if I’m wrong), ratings can work with unlicensed AB credentials. (Officers need to be licensed and citizens)
What I’m not completely clear on is, since I can work with unlicensed AB or OS credentials, will my other Russian STCW licences have to be USCG approved (considering that I’ll be a rating)? I’m talking about “Security training for seafarers with designated duties” 6/2; “Basic safety training”; e.t.c.

Foreign (non-US) sea time is allowed but you will have to take all the STCW courses (Basic Safety Training, Security training, etc) again as those courses you took were not USCG approved. OS credentials is an entry level position and not really an issue but you would have to test for AB if your are approved to do so.

You may find it is easier to continue sailing on your Russian credentials in the short term if there are jobs.

I really appreciate your time and advice, thank you very much!

There are deckhand jobs on many US vessels that do NOT require ANY USCG credentials or a TWIC Card to be a deckhand: vessels under 100 GRT (about 350 GT), fishing vessels, Tugboat’s, etc. These vessels provide new mariners in America with jobs and seatime toward AB ratings.

Another advantage of small vessel jobs is that you will work 12 hour days which will provide you 1-1/2 days seatime credit for each day worked.

Vessels over 100 GRT require a USCG issued MMC. Therexare jobs for entry level mariners as OS.

In order to get an MMC you must get a TWIC card. From what I hear, new immigrants get their TWIC cards faster than American citizens because the TWIC program is unable to check foreign criminal records.

Apply for your TWIC card and MMC as soon as you receive your “Greencard”.

With 180 days of seatime (including on foreign ships) or only 120 (12 hour) days, you can apply for the rating and take the exam for AB OSV (restricted to offshore supply vessels). You will never have to take another exam for AB. You can progress through AB Special (12 months), AB Limited (18 months) and AB unlimited (36 months) without taking anymore exams, just submitting more seatime.

STCW endorsements are issued separately and endorsed separately in your MMC. You do not need them to work on vessels that are: under 200 GRT, fishing vessels, or any vessel operating on the Great Lakes, Inland Waters, Rivers, or harbors.

You will need to take the required USCG approved STCW courses: BT, PSC, etc. and meet STCW seatime requirements to get USCG STCW endorsements for Able Seafarer - Deck in order to serve on ocean and coastwise vessels over 200 GRT.

Job hunting, your Russian credentials and training will usually be an advantage. Being a recent immigrant from a country where people must work hard is often also a job hunting advantage.

I have had very good experiences with Eastern European trained mariners, and for that matter, most recent immigrant mariners.

I do not think you will have any problem finding jobs. There are plenty of “deckhands” looking for jobs, but not many good hardworking deckhands available to hire.


Thank you so very much for the detailed explanation, Tugsailor. I’ll do as you suggested, I’m just hoping I can find an offshore supply vessel in California when I move in a couple of years.

And thank you to everyone who took the time to give me your great advice.

All the best!