Am I wrong about sea time?

I was told years ago aboard ship that no matter how long you are at sea in the supply/stewards department you never earn sea time. Someone on another ship I went to said he most certainly could earn sea time in the supply department toward an endorsement in the deck department, I said no you actually have to earn sea time in that department like deck or engine department to qualify for those endorsements. So which is correct ?

You need to check the requirements for the specific endorsement. It’s not a single rule for all. Generally, you can’t, and you definitely cannot if the the endorsement requires time in the deck or engine department, e.g. AB and QMED.

It will also depend on the duties of the position you filled. Apart from maybe government vessels, commercial vessels do not have a “supply department.” In that case it would likely be looked at the same as military service, i.e. it may be “will be evaluated by the Coast Guard for a determination of its equivalence to sea service acquired on merchant vessels.”

But, generally, it cannot be used for deck or engine rating or officer endorsements.

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Thanks. Supply department is the same as steward department

Ok so I’ve never found out how to get my sea time ? I really don’t plan on going past the steward department I’m just curious though. Does the coast guard have it or is it with former employers? Just out of curiosity

The Coast Guard does not have it unless you turned it in as part of an application, and even then it is not readily available. You need to provide it yourself. You should get a certificate of discharge when you sign off a vessel that is required to use them, or you need to get a service letter from the company’s HR office. A vessel with a dedicated stewards department may be using certificates of discharge.

Ohh ok thanks again I get it

The ship issues you a discharge and follows the legal requirement to submit a copy to the NMC.

But then why must we send them all in when we apply…it’s such a stupid system.

Yeah very confusing

It VARIES! Like many other things connected with our wonderful USCG and their licensing,testing, certification requirements - - this CHANGES from time to time. When I started working towards a masters’ license, their were at least FOUR different divisions of testing - - AND manuals and rules and regulations for each. There were different LIGHTS required on vessels in different waters. I was studying from all four books to be able to operate in any US or International waters. Also, there were about TWELVE USCG Districts - - each of which had it’s own interpretationemphasized text**of the rules!
I started out working my way through college as a cook on towboats on the Mississippi River. At that time *no license was required for operators there. Just like with Samuel Clemmons (Mark Twain) you had to find someone - - or pay someone - - to take you to train you. If a company wanted you to operate their boats, they would hire you.

I found out later that my seatime as cook did NOT count toward license time - only my deckhand time.

Things got better when the different areas were consolidated in to International Rules of the Road - - BUT - - there were STILL different INTERPRETATIONS by different USCG Districts.

It has been a wonderful, adventure-filled ride from Cook on a towboat to Master (1600 tons). I started with 100 ton, then 2nd class ocean towing, then 300 ton, then 500 ton, then 1600 ton - - with other endorsement licensing along the way.

I was told by USCG in Boston that - at the time - I could work my way up the hawse pipe to UNLIMITED master - - but - - most of those jobs on US vessels were taken by Maritime Graduates (not a complaint) and I would have to work my 3rd Mate, etc. on foreign vessels.

I LIKE the boat handling required on the pre-dynamic positioning vessels to get the job done. I love the craft.

And, I would do it ALL OVER AGAIN! Praise GOD and THANKS for all who hired and helped me along the way.


Yea I was an ET in the CG 2001-2008. I went through the same thing. It’s only confusing bc the info is hard to find. Google this and it will point you in the right direction:
“USCG NMC Crediting Military Sea Service“
Look for a 19 page pdf document written by the Guard that interprets 46 CFR 10.232(d) for you.
Basically two types of documents hold weight: your TOSS and any qual letter signed by your command. The NMC will make sense of these documents when assigning your sea time to you. Also, you can’t argue or negotiate with your NMC assessor. They give you what they give and you should take it and say nothing but thank you. I know. I learned the hard way.

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That depends on how the letter of sea time is written by the company.