CG Changes AB Seatime Requirements

Looks as if the CG changed the sea time requirements for AB. For example, unlimited went from 1080 days to 540 days. Any ideas why? To alleviate mariner shortages?


Where are you seeing that?

AB checklist USCG NMC website.

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Damn, I saw the old one when I first looked at this. Good info.
“ONLY USE FOR Applications processed between 22 December 2023 and 22 December 2026”
Sounds like manning issues.


Interesting but the checklist does not match with corresponding eCFR 46 CFR 12.403

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Based on the dates, I would guess there was something in the NDAA.

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I looked around I couldn’t find any NVIC or notice about it. Checklist is updated though. Someone should get the word out to any Deckhands looking to upgrade.

I just sent one to one of our deckhands, looking to get his special. Only 180days now…

SIU Seafarers Log on 1 February 2024 indicates that the change was part of the the newly enacted National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Signed by President Biden on Dec. 22. Which is reflected in the NMC checklist as you noted. However the change is lagging behind in the CFR.

As of now the reduction seems to be for three years.

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Another give away for owners who don’t want to compete with higher wages for AB unlimiteds

A statute enacted by Congress, supersedes the CFRs. Since it’s temporary it may never appear in the CFRs.

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Desperate times call for desperate measures I guess. Great time to be getting into the industry at least and maybe will spur some people on the fence into joining up? :man_shrugging:

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1,080 days to qualify for AB unlimited is far too long, anyway. I suppose sailing is a life-long learning profession. But you aren’t going to see much new after the first 540 days on deck.


Unfortunately, the increases in AB level have nothing to do with aptitude or ability.

I’ve see new guys that in three months were much better than guys that had been sailing for years.

A lot of guys get the same year of experience chipping and painting and sweeping and mopping over and over again without learning anything new



Wondering about the possible ripple effect to those exiting mariner’s holding a Special or Limited AB endorsement.

The sea service modification in the NDAA should trigger a possible Raise of Grade application based on the Examination Guide statement, “Applicants holding any Limited Able Seaman endorsements, (except AB Sail), may obtain Able Seaman Unlimited without further examination upon presenting the required sea service.” e.g. 540 days deck service on Oceans or Great Lakes (Near Coastal)


I agree with the legislative process. I did see the Congressional change of 7306 in HR Bill 2741.

Honestly should be a permanent change.

To give perspective seatime for QMED for any rating is just 180 sea days! (which is maybe too short)

The electrician working on high voltage, or the reefer in charge of keeping a millions of dollar of cargo cold, or the pumpman maintaining the pumps on a tanker. 180 days. AB 1080 days 6 times more, now temporarily 3 times more (at 540) than the QMED

The AB cleans paints and looks out a window with a licensed mate by their side.

Hell 3rd mate is also 1080 days!

I don’t know how the CG came up with these numbers but something about this much higher days for AB never added up to me.


I would assume the Coast Guard didn’t come up with those numbers, and they’re following IMO guidance. STCW requirements will most likely remain the same as I don’t see any changes, so will you see a bunch of newly nationally qualified ABs without AS-D, RFPNW, and the ability to sail foreign? So really this helps those seeking near coastal and inland tug jobs

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Unless you’re a Jax AB then you don’t even have to do that! Hell, you even get to tell the capt and mate to f**** off and get away with it. Untouchables.


The AB requirements were the same long before most of us had ever heard of the IMO or STCW.

I don’t happen to know what’s required under STCW for ASD