AB Unlimited Questions


In the South, the dividing line between Inland and Coastwise normally is the end of the jetties. In New England, its normally a line drawn through the outermost offshore Islands. In other words, the same type of experience most other places would be considered Coastwise Seatime. Similar problem in the PNW, but I have heard that the USCG has at least proposed to make some special allowances there.

I’m afraid I don’t know very much about the current requirements for AB or AS-D.


You can’t get the STCW without the national. And on larger vessels, there is a limit on how many of the required ABs can be other than unlimited, see 46 U.S.C. 7312.

It is on a U.S. flag vessel. They have to be manned according to the COI which uses the national endorsements. There are limits on how many ABs can be something less than unlimited, and they all have to have both the national and STCW endorsements when on international voyages, see 46 CFR 15.840.

You can’t get the STCW AS-D without also getting the national endorsement, see 46 CFR 12.201(a)(1):
…An applicant for any STCW endorsement must hold the appropriate national endorsement, unless otherwise specified.


Ever heard of the Alaska Marine Highway or Washington State Ferry system?


I fixed my typo. I doubt “many” vessels work exclusively on those waters.

Also, it’s all about how the sea time letter is written. Is the time listed as “inland” or “inland and near coastal” waters? If you go outside one day you can use the second option and that counts as NC time.


No it doesn’t, one day on near coastal doesn’t magically transform time on inland to anything but inland. You might get lucky and have it accepted that way, or you might have it rejected as not being specific enough as to how much time was spent on each.


But it magically let’s the company honestly write “inland and near coastal waters” on the sea time letter which IS accepted as near coastal time, whether it “should” be or not.

You will almost definitely “get lucky”.

Not likely unless someone educates the evaluators.

On that note:

Why is a ship discharge that says “oceans” never questioned? Who knows how much time was spent on rivers, or anchored, or at the dock, or in shipyard?

The NMC couldn’t require a breakdown of waters sailed every day. That’s too much of a paperwork burden and would never fly.


Ok good to know, thank you.
I did think one would get both national and STCW AB at the same time, without ever being a national AB before.
National requirements are a mess, it’s weird to see how national AB doesn’t require US citizenship, but the international equivalent does. Doesn’t make sense, should be the other way around, if anything


Correct, just a green card.

That’s the first I’ve heard of that. Citation please.


You can hold an STCW endorsement for Able Seafarer-Deck without being a U.S. citizen.

STCW does require citizenship per se. The citizenship requirement, if one exists, is for the associated national endorsement, and you cannot hold an STCW endorsement without also holding the associated national endorsement. The requirement is the same for both the national and STCW endorsement. If the associated national endorsement does not require citizenship, the associated STCW endorsement doesn’t require it either. For Able Seaman (national endorsement) and Able Seafarer-Deck (STCW endorsement) U.S. citizenship is not required, it is also acceptable to be a foreign citizen admitted for permanent residence in the U. S.


Thank you for clearing it up. Was going by what I was told through writing and phone calls with NMC help line (multiple occasions) and the checklist.

The standard answer, if I ever question their statements or bring up CFRs to disprove what I’ve been told, is “I can’t tell you why this is, but you better listen”


I read CFRs. I then looked at the checklist. (Which does state US Citizenship) I then went to the lovely NMC page, found the phone number and called. The first time a lady was arguing with me at length that STCW AS-D does indeed require citizenship. I just wanted an explanation because CFRs don’t support it. Another time, a guy on the phone at NMC told me the same thing. The third time, I chose to use the chat option and was told, yes, USA citizenship required. They even disappeared for a while while “double checking it for me”.
Sorry for trusting the “experts” from the lovely NMC! I, do, however trust you, so thanks for clearing it up, as I said.


Just to confirm to be sure Im reading this correctly, but Near Coastal time counts towards an Unlimited endorsement for AB?


Yes. 46 CFR 12.403(a)(1) specifies the service required for AB-Unlimited as “three years of service on deck on vessels operating on oceans or on the Great Lakes.” Although near coastal is not specifically mentioned, it’s not excluded from meeting the service requirement.

46 CFR 10.107 defines “near coastal” as being “ocean waters not more than 200 miles offshore from the U.S. and its possessions…”. Thus near coastal is a sub-set of oceans, and would meet the requirements for AB-Unlimited.


Excellent information. Thank you very much.


I’m just an AB. At least I try to read CFRs. Why you can’t admit that your own people who are supposed to deal with this on a daily basis have no clue whatsoever of what’s going on and can’t read CFRs, is beyond me. They’re the ones putting out wrong information. It’s their job!


I’ve been on the water going on 7 years now running OSV’s and crew boats in the gulf and I don’t pretend to know everything there is regarding CFRs or even running boats. I strongly think anyone in a professional capacity has a great knowledge base but there are things that slip through the cracks here and there.


Much like Doctors and Lawyers, your value as a professional sometimes comes down to knowing where to look up the answer. No one knows everything


I agree, but it’s their actual job, knowing this, looking it up at the very least! One person can fail, not a dozen! This is not the only time NMC “helpline” has been full of shit


Good Afternoon,

This is your SLCC administrator.

According to our Marine Coordinator the answer would be “No.”

"min service is 1080 days on deck on vessels operating on oceans or Great Lakes.

CFR 46 12.403 (a)(1) "

I Hope this helps:)
If you would like to speak to our Marine Coordinator Mr. Nosworthy, please call 985-448-5951.