Certificate of Discharge

Who signs the certificate of discharge (USCG 718A) for the master? I know sea time letters on company letterhead can be signed by a company official, but the discharge form, clearly only allows for the masters’ signature.

The Master.

I’ve never had trouble renewing my license or even qualifying for First Class Pilot exams with my discharges signed in both places.

So, If I am sailing as master I would sign my own discharge? I know I can self certify for pilotage but I did not think I could self certify for anything else.

I’ve never heard anything to the contrary. I file an official log with the coast guard which states I was in command so that would corroborate it if needed.

Thanks for the info.

I’ve relieved / been relieved by several different masters over the years, never been asked to sign their discharge, always signed my own.

For years I signed my own discharges, then I had the relieving Captain sign mine, after having one company official (who was the companies regulatory guy & pretty sharp) tell me that the relieving Captain should sign it. The CFR’s doesn’t really address this. One school of thought is that the Master is not considered a merchant mariner by the CFR’s (after all he is the Master) and that he shouldn’t even receive a 718a. His sea time would be verified for the USCG by his official log taking command/being relieved log entries. That being said, I never thought it a good idea to not have a 718a when filing for vacation, renewing my license, or having proof of sea time for retirement. The USCG recognizes a Master’s sea time whether he or his relief signs the 718a for renewals having submitted 718a’s both ways. I’ve never been questioned on my discharges when filing for vacation regardless of which Captain signs it. And there’s no way in the world the USCG would “attempt” to look up your official logs to verify your sea time nor would you want to present them with several official logbooks. The important thing is to have documentation of your sea time for the above reasons. Not being relieved, as in one way articles, sign it yourself!!


The answer to the OP is that in practice the master signs his own discharge.

That aside the articles is an agreement between the master and the crew which is why the master does not sign articles.The master should get an assignment letter from the owner which give the master the legal authority to command the ship.

So my understanding is that while the crew is signed on and discharged the master is not, so strictly speaking should not get a discharge.

Obviously if the captain tried to file for vacation at the hall using an assignment letter and a copy of the official log they would think he was nuts.

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This raises an interesting question for me regarding small vessels. According to CFRs:
(a) Documenting sea service. (1) Sea service may be documented in various forms such as certificates of discharge, pilotage service and billing forms, and service letters or other official documents from marine companies signed by the owner, operator, master, or chief engineer of the vessel. The Coast Guard must be satisfied as to the authenticity and acceptability of all evidence of experience or training presented.

Then later, the same CFR says: (4) For service on vessels of less than 200 GRT, owners of vessels may attest to their own service and provide proof of ownership. Those who do not own a vessel must obtain letters or other evidence from licensed personnel or the owners of the vessels listed.

Will the Coast Guard accept a Small Vessel Sea Service form signed by the Master to prove his own sea time if he does not own the vessel? Since he is an officer aboard the vessel, one would think he could sign. But if that is the case, then anyone serving as a “Master” on any small vessel could attest to their own service, whether or not they own the vessel.

My first license was obtained based on time working as an instructor on a fleet off aux sailboats in the 25’ to 50’ range. They were owned by a charter company and I don’t recall my having to submit a confirming letter from the company. This was long before NMC so YMMV.

Only on foreign going vessels. Coastwise ships don’t fill out an Official Log.

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