46 cfr 11.407

Currently trying upgrade from an AB to 3rd Mate Unlimited. I have the seatime, on vessels of appropriate tonnage, and the necessary classes. Though I don’t have “seatime letters”, only Certificates of discharge as an Able Seaman. I’ve stood watch on the bridge, but my evaluator did not count any of this time. Do I resubmit the Certificates of Discharge? It’s the same requirement for a 500/1600 mate as well. I just dont understand. Any advice would be helpful.

The official green discharge slips? I would resubmit them and make some calls. You got an evaluator that’s a dumbass it sounds like.

The discharges will work to prove the 1080 days.

They will not work to prove the “180 days of bridge watchkeeping duties under the supervision of the master or a qualified officer.”

The 180 days must come as a sea service letter. An Able Seaman a lot of places is just used to chip and paint all day. Having a discharge as an AB doesn’t prove the bridge watchkeeping duties. AB-Watch discharge could have meant you stood at the gangway all day even though as professionals we know that means the bridge too, though this is probably a more “depends on the evaluator” situation IF they say exactly “AB-Watch”

If you worked for big companies, good luck getting them to write that you were on the bridge. I’d recommend reaching out to officers and Captains you were with on those ships.

Do you have contact information for any of the officers on the ships you stood watch on?

Having RFPNW should automatically meet this requirement since the requirement for RFPNW is this:

“Six months of seagoing service, which includes training and experience associated with navigational watchkeeping functions and involves the performance of duties carried out under the supervision of the master, mate, or qualified STCW deck rating”

You’re right but OP isn’t the only one that has had this problem. I almost had it myself, and in fact, the only reason I had no problems is because I knew to expect this and had the sea service letters prepared after having seen multiple people hit a brick wall here. You would think discharges that say AB Watch are sufficient.

He could’ve also got RFPNW as part of an approved training program, like Piney Point, in which case it would be approved for RFPNW but not 3rd Mate. Similar to how the seatime through classroom days counts towards an AB ticket through the program but not towards the mate license

Official Certificates of Discharges are no longer sufficient?

But seatime letters which are often exaggerated and are unverifiable are sufficient?

What is the USA’s little corner of the maritime world coming to?


1080 days of service in the deck department on Ocean/NC or Great Lakes self- propelled vessels, OF WHICH 1. 180 days of bridge watchkeeping duties under the supervision of the master or a qualified officer.

I like to rag on some of the ambiguities just as much as the next person, however I’m with the Coast Guard on this one.

In the Gulf of Mexico, on OSVs ABs hardly ever see the bridge. Tankers, they are more often than not sent to hold a needle gun all day even though they’re technically suppose to be on the bridge as lookout. On the Great Lakes, AB Watchman is the one on deck while the “Wheelsman” is the watchstander and helmsman. On tugs, the AB is the cook, engineer, and deckhand while hardly making their way to the wheelhouse. It’s only been on deep sea ships have I seen an AB used truly (and rightfully) as a bridge watchstander.

To summarize, ABs are not created equally, depending where you go. It’s not up to the Coast Guard to know what an AB does on each and every ship. A certificate of discharge doesn’t clarify whether you were being used as grease monkey, deckhand/cook, or on the bridge. If anything, remove the 180 day bridge requirement. He doesn’t need sea time letters for the whole 1080 days, just the 180 days of bridge watchkeeping under a qualified officer/captain. The rest can be discharges.


Ask your former employers and/or union for seatime letters that say you were a bridge watch stander.

Whoever it is the office that writes the letter won’t know anything except what is the payroll records, but they’ll probably play the game and write the letter.

I have my RFPNW.

Two of the companies refuse to rewrite seatime letters to include “performed bridge watchstanding duties” because I quit, and they weren’t too happy when I left.

When did you get it?

I’ve sailed on Deep Sea on Tankers for OSG, on a Dredge for USACE, and ocean going tugs all as an AB-Watch. I’m upset that I was credited for zero bridge watch standing time.

All within the last five years.

My RFPNW i received 5 years ago this month.

My current company wrote a letter for 111 days to include “performed watchkeeping duties under master or qualified officer”, but that still leaves me short. Do i just wait until after my next rotation, and reapply?

Did you hawsepipe or did you do that as part of a program? If the former, do you still have your letter attesting to 180 days of bridge watch keeping time?

I went through a job corps program for my AB and RFPNW.

But I have a letter from the progrom credible for 60 days of actual sea service that submitted with my packet that did say “bridge watchstanding”. Evaluator did not credit this time either.

I never quit and am in good standing with a certain company I sailed for a lot, and they still refused to write a letter. Their reasoning is that they were not there to attest to what I did. Your best bet is reaching out to the officers, otherwise you might be out of luck. I’m very lucky I stumbled upon threads like this before submitting my application and still had contacts.

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If you were issued discharges, a company may not be required to later write an additional seatime letter.

A company that won’t write the letter is a bad company. Name them and shame them. Warn others to stay away.

I guess it’s no secret that OSG is a bad company.

What about your union? Will they do anything for you?
The union should be able to get some cooperation from the company.

The evaluators usually don’t accept anything other than discharges or seatime letters. You have to request Reconsideration to get alternative evidence of sea service accepted - not worth it.

I think you can probably sail for another 69 days faster and easier than chasing the companies, officers, and trying to get evaluators to do their jobs properly.

The USCG is requiring far too many “magic words” about to many issues that too few people understand.