Able seaman

So before I go and spend a few grand on the AB special and lifeboatman classes, I want to make sure I actually qualify via sea time. So I have been fishing for 360 days on the deck of a 27-ton
42-foot undocumented commercial fishing vessel. All days are seaward of the three-mile line making them near coastal days. All days are also over eight hours leaving me with the question of whether I qualify for those national endorsements. I have twic, med and drug test passed and need to take oath etc.

Thanks for your help

Here ya go

A couple grand for AB?!?! Where are you located…

Hey, thanks. Southern California training resource maritime institution

Yikes, the lifeboatman there is a grand too!

Prices have gone up.

Military Sealift Command used to offer courses too for a pretty good rate. I took my BT there for $500…

Save some dough. Self study for the AB then test at the REC.

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Last I heard they haven’t allowed non-msc people there since pre-covid.

I just took their BTS two weeks ago and it was 1200 and it’s pretty open but masks are required but they don’t care

Above advice is good. You can really pass the AB exam with a little bit of self study

No reason whatsoever to take a class for AB exam. Buy the American Merchant Seaman’s Manual, read it and know it. You’ll pass your exam and what’s more you’ll actually know some stuff that will serve you well on your ship/tug.


There is one reason. Like you said, the AB test at the USCG REC is fairly easy to pass. The will also assess you for knots and marlinspike.
This is how I got my AB.

But the good classes (e.g. MITAGS or MPT) also give you STCW assessments which are needed for STCW Ab seafarer.

It was not clear to me if OP’s training course did this or not. But for a grand it sure should. That is same price as MITAGS and MPT

As already noted, you don’t need a course for AB. You can take the exam from the Coast Guard, as well as the knot-tying test. If you still plan on a course, you can apply for the endorsement from the NMC, and if approved, go take the course after. That way you know your service qualifies.

Where do you plan to work? If it’s offshore on a vessel of 200 GRT or more, you will probably need certain STCW endorsements. You may not immediately qualify for the STCW endorsement for Able Seafarer-Deck, that requires they you obtain service while qualified for the STCW endorsement Rating Forming Part of a Navigational Watch, see 46 CFR 12.603(a)(3).

Time is money.

The most important thing is to get your AB quickly.

The NMC might take 90 days just to process your completed application. It will take time to get a test date at the REC and more time for NMC to process your test results.

By going to school next week and submitting a course completion certificate to the NMC, you might get your AB endorsement months sooner than if you wait for a test date at the REC.

Where to go to school at what cost is always a question. Going to school involves course availability, price, travel cost, hotel, whether you need a rental car, meals, etc.

I have taken courses at many different schools all over the country.

For me, course availability (when I’m available to take it) is always the most important factor.

MPT is hard to beat. It’s good quality. Most courses are offered every week. Ft. Lauderdale has cheap direct flights. MPT offers good hotel and “crew house” options. Meals are relatively cheap. No rental car needed. Ft. Lauderdale is a pleasant place to visit, especially in the winter. You can make some good contacts there. When you consider all the costs, going to MPT is often the cheapest option.

Clatsop Community College in Oregon has some of the cheapest courses, but the course availability is poor.

The community colleges in Louisiana , Delgado, Fletcher, and Young Memorial, are among the cheapest, and course availability is good, but flights, hotels, rental cars, tend to be costly.

TRI has good course availability. Flights are cheap. San Diego is a nice place to visit, especially in the winter.

I would also consider the current Covid infection rate in the locality, but some people would ignore that.

If time is not important to you, then I agree that studying on your own and testing at the REC is the best way to go.


I’ll second Clatsop. Wonderful, affordable training and Astoria is one of the coolest small coastal towns around…

Thanks for all your feedback. Money is not that big of an issue nor is time so I will be going to TRMI and getting the AB special and lifeboatman and come July I can send all the paperwork and take the oath when I turn 18. Does anyone know any So Cal tugboat companies that will want to hire an entry-level AB? Also, when you qualify for the master of tow, assuming most tugs are over 51-grt, do y’all stay and do work with the 100-ton Master, or try and get time on vessels over 101-tons for 200-ton masters?

Thanks for the info, I want to work on inland and near coastal tugs and get the master of tow within five years from when I get hired. How would I go about asking the nmc if I qualify for the AB special? Would I need the MMC to see if I qualify because I don’t have one yet.

It isn’t that hard. Look at the Checklist found on NMC’s website.

Yeah, I know I think I qualify to have 360 days but never can be too careful when dealing with the government’s bs, and spending a few grand out of my pocket does not come easy especially when it could go into the bin.

Apply for it. They won’t give you an advisory opinion, they will only tell you what you need but without an application, they won’t opine as to whether you will qualify for the endorsement. If you apply and they approve you for the test, you’ll have one year to pass the exam or submit a course. If you don’t qualify, you’ll have 90 days to make up the deficiency (including not being 18 yet). You don’t need to already have an MMC to apply for AB.

How old were you when you got the sea time? If you were less than 16 you might have some difficulty getting it accepted.

Ok thanks for the knowledge, I got the sea time from the day I turned 16 and on.

Hit up curtin maritime. Lots of varied work and they are growing.

There is also Pacific tugboat service, American marine.