Able Seaman Requirements

I’m curious about the subtle differences between national AB Unlimited, AB limited, and AB special… I have accrued about 900 Days on an 80 ton vessel in Near Coastal waters. Here’s what I’ve found online:

AB Unlimited – 1080 days deck service on Oceans or Great Lakes.
AB Limited – 540 days deck service on vessels of 100 GRT or more, not exclusive to rivers & smaller inland lakes of the U. S.
AB Special – 360 days deck service on navigable waters of the U. S.

So I’m not quite eligible for AB Unlimited since I only have 900 days. But for some reason AB Limited is the only one that mentions tonnage…why is that? And does that mean I will have to apply for AB Special instead of AB Limited since all of my time has been on an 80 ton vessel?

Or is this perhaps a typo/outdated technicality that no longer applies…should I go ahead and apply for AB Limited?

Thank you for your time

The tonnage still applies. It’s in the US Code, so only Congress can change it. Consider just putting Able Seaman - highest level possible” and see what NMC does. Expect that they won’t approve for limited due to the tonnage.

Hey jdcavo,

Can you advise on what would be needed for a current holder of A.B. Special (RFPNW, PSC, Basic Safety Training, Security Awareness) to get the AS-D endorsement? I’m sending in my renewal this month. I have over 360 days of sea time ( Inland ) during the last 5 years.

Do I have to take the new version of BST over again to meet the new STCW requirements? I got off an MSC ship in 2013 and tested for my 100 Ton/Inland to work close to home and didn’t realize all this had changed!

See NVIC 14-14. It will depend on when you were first issued your current Able Seaman endorsement.

There is still some grandfathering that did not expire on January 1, 2017.

If you held your Able Seaman endorsement before January 1, 2017, and have:

  1. An RFPNW endorsement;
  2. A Proficiency in Survival Craft endorsement; and
  3. Are up to date on Basic Training.

If you don’t have all of the above, or if your Able Seaman was first issued after January 1, 2017, you will need to either hold or qualify for RFPNW, and after that, obtain 18 months in the deck department and complete the assessments for AS-D (see the NVIC). You will also need PSC, and need to be up to date on BT.

I’ve had my AB w/RFPNW +PSC since 2009. Does having 360+ days of sea time in the last 5 year period qualify to keep BT up to date without classes? I think that is where I’m confused.

Thanks for your replies!

The one year in five does not have to be on “seagoing” vessels (near coastal/oceans). It can be on inland vessels, provided they held regular abandon ship and fire & emergency drills. Since January 1, 2017, sea service alone isn’t sufficient, so if you have that one year of service in the last five, you’ll still need a BT “revalidation” course, typically 2 days. It covers only the parts of BT that can’t be reasonably and safely done on a vessel, e.g. in-water exercises and live fire.

That’s how I read the new STCW language, but it’s hard to trust without confirming somewhere. Thanks again!

Copy that. We’ll see what happens.