500 ton master equivalent

Hello all. Just reaching out to the community to see if anyone has experience with a question I’ve got. I currently hold a USCG 2nd Mate license of unlimited tonnage upon oceans. Both the National and STCW equivalent. I was under the impression that I could work as a Master of less than 500GT at-least nationally without having to actually get the endorsement on my mmc or apply for a raise of grade with my rec. If anyone has any experience with this I’d love to hear about it before I start searching CFR’s

You can work as Master of a vessel less than 100 GRT (not 500 GRT). See 46 CFR 15.901.

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Although you do need the endorsement, I believe that your 2nd Mate puts you in line for the 1600 Ton crossover.

Thanks so much for the response. I’ll take a look at the CFR.

Yes it appears that my best bet is to sit for the 1600 ton master crossover exam like you said but it would only be for the national and not STCW. Apparently for that you must now basically go back and re do school. Licensing has become so ridiculous in an effort to monetize the process. I’ve worked on ships and boats my entire life. As if a 60 question exam could possibly quantify that knowledge. I wish we could go back to the days when another master could decide if you were ready to be master and not some evaluator at the NMC

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If you’ve been sailing so long a sixty question exam shouldn’t be that hard…? Why don’t you just test for Chief Mate?

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And there is no exam to go from Chief Mate to Master 1600, see 46 CFR 11.412(b).

Because I don’t have the time to take all the classes needed before I can even sit for the test. That’s a huge investment of time and money!

Raise in grade normaly pays for itself in months. If the jump from Mate to Master is $200 a day thats 6k a month. If you blow 36k in classes and housing, one year on an even time schedule and the upgrade pays for itself and keeps paying as long as you keep sailing. I am not the sharpest tool in the shed and can’t bring myself to study on my own so I “invested” in the license prep courses offered at MPT. I sailed through my exams and considered that money well spent. Nobody wants to pay for what seems like onerous hoops to jump through but if you do the math it makes sense. Full disclosure I have no idea what upgrades cost these days so my math is theoretical.


It’s only about a month of classes with a bunch being online, and bunch you can have signed off if you can find a DE. I think its about 20 days if you can get someone to sign you off on stuff on the boat. I know this is a pretty hefty opportunity cost, but considering you could get C/M Unlimited, and 1600/3000 Master, I think it’s the best ROI you can get.

If you’re working at a reputable company, that should be the case anyways. A license just demonstrates that you have the bare minimum academic knowledge and experience. It’s not, and never has been, a “guarantee” of success in a role.

Also, the NMC had nothing to do with the STCW requirements now needed for an international 1600GT license. That was a change at the IMO level.


He was too lazy to look this up in the CFR’s, and wanted us to do that for him. So 60 Q’s probably is too much for him.

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What’s more is they are actually 70 question exams, and the last 10 questions are what quantify the knowledge of a master and a life on the water.

There aren’t any classes required to sit for the exam.

QA not DE.

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He’s not entirely wrong, just out of date. Prior to the 2014 rulemaking, we were calling them Designated Examiners, see the now cancelled NVIC 6-97.

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What’s the point in a response like this? I specifically said I was reaching out to see if anyone had personal experience or insight. I did consult the cfr but it doesn’t specifically reference 500 ton. I mean just don’t answer if you want to be a dick about it.

Well there are for the STCW equivalent. A national CM license is basically worthless to me so I wouldn’t want to take all the exam modules for a worthless license.

Wow you really got me there! Ok 70 questions. I thought this was a forum where mariners supported each other through their knowledge and experience. Not heckle them FFS! Guess I won’t post anymore.

It would also give you a Master 1,600 if you ask for it and whenever you get around to taking the classes and doing the assessments you can get the STCW endorsement to go along with them. Any seagoing vessel over 200 GRT is required to be manned as per STCW so you’ll need it anyway.