Brown water to Blue water

Inland time can be used for any of the AB endorsements except AB-Unlimited.


That’s good to know. I thought I was only eligible for AB Special. I have tons of sea time from working a 20 days on and 10 days off schedule with occasional ride over. I’m studying now to visit the REC center when I get home.

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I had an interview with Illinois Marine Towing a couple of months ago. They have a pretty good schedule at 3 weeks on / 3 weeks off. I went a different direction, but it seems like a decent place to work. They’re also looking to train people for the wheelhouse.

Canal Barge has been mentioned, and Illinois Marine Towing is affiliated with them. I remember looking at Canal Barge’s application and it was 4 weeks on / 4 weeks off.

Yes, Canal Barges owns IMT. They also own a refinery, a shipyard a few fleets and have offices in Illinois, New Orleans, Lake Charles LA and Memphis. Solid company if you are working inland, they pay for flights/ car rentals as well.


I would hope so. I spoke to my brother who had to get the endorsement a long time ago. He suggested the possibility of me being required to have one even on an inland tug in the near future. Our vessels are required through subchapter M to be Inspected vessels now. In the past we’ve always been uninspected.

I spoke to a Port Captain from Canal this morning. Seems like a great place.

It’s a good company, I used to work there. And like every inland company, they are short wheelman right now.

I’m looking to do the opposite and transition to a brown water mate(pilot).

It’s not that often I’ve seen blue water guys come to inland. I had a good friend I met out here who started out blue and came to my company. He held a 1600 ton. He ended up going back offshore about a year into it. Typically they’ll have you work the deck for a while regardless what experience you have. Not to obtain an endorsement but just so you get familiar with our line handling and tow work. Brown water tugs usually push atleast 2 barges so tow work has to be learned. They don’t push the tankerman part on new wheelman. It’s optional. They’ll let you learn it and then pay to send you to school if you’d like. Close quarters maneuvering is our specialty. It takes time to learn it. When I meet other vessels in the canal it’s not uncommon to be making 5 knots and come within 4 or 6 yards of one another.

That sounds about right up my alley…I’m a 3rd mate/Tankerman right now on ATBs. The money is pretty good, but I’m a boat handler. Always have been. Just doing cargo and keeping the boat on a track line for 3 days isn’t really what I want to do. I want more of a challenge. Call me crazy.


It’s for sure a challenge. No assist boats, low water depths, etc. I love it but I hate the rotation. Most inland companies work 2 to 1. I’ve worked 20 days on 10 days off for 6 years. I’m working on landing a spot somewhere that offers 28 on and 28 off. Inland is booming right now. If you can sell yourself then you get in as a Mate Pilot at around 550 a day. That’s the average. If you find yourself a steersman spot it can hurt the wallet. Average steersman pay is around 320 to 350 a day. Hope this helps

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If you have your masters of inland/western rivers you can ride 90 days as an observer and receive the near coastal without testing

This is not correct.

A Master of Towing Vessels Inland or WR can get MATE of Towing Vessels Near Coastal added after passing the Apprentice Mate/Steersman exam for near coastal. Then, after getting 90 days on near coastal AND completing the near coastal TOAR, they can get Master of Topwing Vessels Near Coastal. See Footnote 1 on Table 1 in 46 CFR 11.464(a).

The relief pilot under me just got upgraded from master of towing inland to master near coastal with 90 days as an observer

Aww man did you just screw that guy? If somebody got a good deal, telling the resident NMC guy that “you’re wrong cuz this guy I know just got something he wasn’t supposed to” might not turn out so well.

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It’s all good we called the coast guard to make sure this would be the proper way to get his endorsement. I was his D.e. and wanted to be sure this wasn’t going to bite me in the end

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Who did you call? I cited the regulation that says you can’t qualify that way, anyone who tells you otherwise is also mistaken.

I haven’t been a “resident NMC guy” for 9 years.

I once has a hawsepipe third mate that somehow evidentially got his seatime without going to sea, or very little sea time, didn’t know anything, ROS (Reserve Operating Status). I ended up having to fire him but before I did he put my license in jeopardy with this bs. Almost ran down a fishing boat in the S. China Sea.

Better for everyone to put in the time to get the ticket.

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Agreed. I just don’t feel it’s my job to go be a compliance officer for the USCG. In your story where the guy demonstrated gross incompetence then that’s a different case.

In your story, however, I’m not even sure he didn’t meet the CFR requirements for his license. It’s not clear to me whether you’re saying he didn’t meet the requirements or that you just don’t agree with the requirements (ROS time counting).