A little confused concerning AB requirements


As stated in a previous thread, I am a Master of Towing vessels for Rivers, Inland and Great Lakes. In my quest to go offshore, I found I need a MMD, and that my sea time qualifies me for AB Special. Besides the sea time, the application,and physical, do I need some sort of training? I enrolled in SeaSchool’s Able Seaman, any level, any waters prep for USCG approved exam and practical Marlinspike. It does not include lifeboat written or practical, nor RFPNW. Wayne from SeaSchool St. Pete said I would need lifeboat on my MMD, but is this class I enrolled in necessary? I am new to all this, and Marlinspike(other than the knife) is new to me. Should I just find a Lifeboat class to take? Class starts Monday in Bayou La Batre, so timely info would help. Thanks guys.


You will need Lifeboatman for any AB. If you are going offshore and will be working under STCW requirements you will also need the RFPNW with Assessments. The assessments need to be done whilst working on deck over a significant time period, 90 days I think. So you may have to go back on deck for while. The checklist shows the requirements.


For RFPNW, 6 months of sea going service.
A day of approved sea going service for qualification as a RFPNW is an 8 hour day,under training carrying out duties assosciated with navigational watchkeeping functions,under the direct supervision of the Master, OICNW or a qualified rating…

Also 50 % of the service must be performed on sea going vessels of at least 200 GRT and All steering and helm assessments must be completed on vessels of at least 100 GRT

It’s all in policy letter 14/02 on the NMC web site


at this point I am only concerned with the z-card for ab special. I’ll fool with the stcw stuff later. I can’t get on a blue water boat without it, an only on those boats can I get time for upgrading my license. After I get my master 500ton inland, I will start with seatime for near coastal. If I have understood every one so far boats that stay in domestic trade in near coastal routes have less or no stcw. Unless near coastal is not domestic.


section 12.05 will help you out I think…



blcouch, you will need to take the AB class, also lifeboat/PSC , basic safety ( BST)…to go off shore…Now I believe the OSV’s that run out of the gulf are under some different rules…Maybe one of the guys down there can help you out on that…


RFPNW “LOOKOUT ONLY” can be done in a simulator but is only good for 1 year. check out WWW.MPT.COM in fort lauderdale. there web site has the information that you need,


I’d suggest giving STCW some thought now. Otherwise you might find yourself having to take more courses. For example, if you go for short and cheap on the Lifeboatman now, you might find that it isn’t acceptable for STCW, and you need to take another “Proficiency in Survival Craft” course for STCW later. A little research and extra time /money now may save a lot later. With the lifeboatman example, a 2-day course might get you the “Lifeboatman” endorsement, but you’ll need to spend another 3-5 days for STCW. Go to the STCW course now and you spend an extra day or two now, but won’t need to spend 5 later.

You may also find your employment potential is limited offshore without STCW.


[I][quote=Mr 100-ton;20580]RFPNW “LOOKOUT ONLY” can be done in a simulator…[/quote][/I]

It can be done ashore, but a simulator isn’t required, there are no practical assessments. Most RFPNW-Lookout only courses do not use simulators, they are entirely in a classroom. However, the ones with a simulator may also take care of some of the practical assessments for the “full” or non-restricted RFPNW that you would otherwise need to get done on a vessel.

RFPNW-Lookout might be of limited utility. This is essentially the old watchstanding Ordinary Seaman and most vessels that carried them eliminated them a long time ago. There are vessels that can substitute a “Specially Trained Ordinary Seaman” for some of the ABs, but this would be an OS with the full, non-restricted RFPNW.



You may also find your employment potential is limited offshore without STCW.[/quote]
My experience in the gulf was similar. Though I did test and received an mmd showing Qmed/Oiler, until I got the STCW document after assessment, I could only sail (and get paid) as wiper.


My problem is that I am unemployed for 2 months now, with no prospects from all the applications I have sent out, and money for training is extremely scarce. I managed to borrow the funds for the AB class, and might be able to for the lifeboat class, but a package of STCW stuff is a no-go for now.


jdcavo’s point is valid…you might want to consider your first step STCW basic safety training…your TWIC, MMC, and STCW BST should get you “thru the door” as an os/wiper with most offshore towing companies…based on your license/experience if it is a decent company they may “fast track” you from there and quite possibly pay for it…it is a shame that there is not a more equitable transition for you…GOOD LUCK!!


If you plan on sailing on vessels without lifeboats, you can take a Proficiency in Survival Craft class instead of a Lifeboat class. The PSC class would be shorter (in most cases) and would not cost as much. You need one of the two to obtain an AB endorsement.


[I][quote=camthrop;20629]If you plan on sailing on vessels without lifeboats, you can take a Proficiency in Survival Craft class instead of a Lifeboat class. …[/quote][/I]

You’re talking about a “Proficiency in Survival Craft (Restricted)” course. PSC courses are either with lifeboats (non-restricted) or without (restricted). The course’s Coast Guard approval will specify if it gets you the STCW certification with a restriction to vessels w/o lifeboats. All of the non-restricted PSC courses will also meet all of the Lifeboatman requirements (but a “Lifeboatman” course will not meet STCW).


Lots of confussion with the AB thing. Here are a couple items that took me months to find out:

  1. RFPNW, forget the class that some places offer. Its worthless. The Policy Letter 14-02 is what ya need to read. BUT… be advised… you MUST have 180 days of seas service on a specific tonnage boat that also has specific equipment. Im not telling you cause ya should find those requirments your self in the policy letter. If you work 12 hour days you still need 180 days! The 1.5 days for a 12 hour day dont work for RFPNW.

  2. Lifeboatman, there are a couple diffrent types of Lifeboatman. The one you should get (STCW) is the one where you deploy the old fasion lifeboat from davits and get to do the oar commands. Just picture the SS Titanic. Thats the one Mr. Cavo is advising to get. Me too. Always ask the school youre conidering if their Lifebaotman course is the one with davits and you get to actually row the boat.

  3. if money is tight… get another job, such as Micky Ds to make the money. If you want to be an AB youre gonna have to work for it. I sleeped in my van, took a bath in Puget Sound while in Seattle for my AB school. If you want it bad enough you can make it work. Unless ya want to call for the Waa-bulance to save your worthless ass at the first sign of discomfort.
    Good luck,