This is in no way 100% accurate, if any of you have better info, sing out. But seeing one guy lose his papers for a month, and continuing school kids asking the same question made me write (ad nauseum) sorry!
Confusion over MOT and TOAR.
There seems to be continuing confusion about the TOAR, the Apprentice steersman license, and how to get ‘signed off’ to be a watch stander on a tug. Once you get the license, then it is up to you to figure out IF and whether you should actually be in charge of a navigation watch. But few people are aware of self limitations.
[FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]To recap, if you have OVER a 200 ton license, you don’t need it stamped on your license, if you have UNDER a 200 ton license you NEED it stamped on you license. This refers to GROSS tonnage, NOT ITC tonnage. Don’t get those numbers confused.
[/SIZE][/FONT]A tug operator MUST be licensed as a MOT to stand their own watch. This MOT stands for: ([B][U]M[/U][/B] ate or [B][U]M[/U][/B] aster [B][U]O[/U][/B]f [B][U]T[/U][/B]owing)
There are two ways to get this license. One is to work on any vessel, and get the requisite time to sit for either a Master or Mate of vessels OVER 200 tons. That is either a 500, 1600, 3rd mate, 2nd mate, chief mate, master, unlimited license. THEN you have to work on a towing vessel for 30 days, and complete (with a USCG approved DE (Designated Examiner)) a TOAR. When this is done (1. License, 2. TOAR and 3. 30 days on tug) you are officially ‘qualified’ to stand your own watch on a tug. You DON’T have to actually go to the USCG and have the endorsement ‘stamped’ on your MMC, until your next renewal, just having a completed TOAR and proof of the 30 days with you is good enough.
That is the first way. The next, second way has NOTHING to do with the first way, you cannot mix and match the method of gaining the endorsement, or the qualification.
The second way is to do it the ‘old fashioned way’.
This is to work on a ‘limited tonnage vessel’ (tug, SPV, OSV, yacht, ferry, dinner boat etc) and gain enough time to apply and sit for an “Apprentice steersman license.” (This is regardless if you have another license I.E. 25 ton, 50 ton, 100 ton or 200 ton) You MUST go get this new ‘Apprentice Steersman’ license. Once you get the ‘apprentice’ license you must sail AS APPRENTICE for one year. AND you must have completed a TOAR (with a USCG approved DE (Designated Examiner).) Then you have to GO to the REC, and apply and have the endorsement put on your MMC (or sticker, whatever)
With a completed TOAR, and a letter from the company attesting to your seatime (AS APPRENTICE) all you have to do is send in your info (with another application fee of course!) and you will be approved as MOT. But you cannot sail as operator until you receive the new MMC (or sticker for the MMC)
Don’t think, as some have mistakenly assumed, that you can have any license, and just complete a TOAR, and show 30 days on a tug and you’re good to go. It doesn’t work like that!
Note: Be aware that different harbors, and companies, and even crews expect different levels of competence when you go aboard as crew. It will come as no surprise that some individuals will ‘rise to the occasion,’ and others will not ‘cut the mustard.’ In the same thought, the dilemma with the TOAR system (IMHO) is that the TOAR is seen as EITHER a minimum level test to allow entry to the work force, OR as the Minimum competency level to operate the particular boat you are being TOARed on. This is not realistic, since with a completed TOAR one can leave and go to ANY other tug and take a watch, which may not be equal to the candidates level of experience.
Either way I am not comfortable sleeping while someone who has only 30 days experience on a tug and has not shown ME that they are competent. Just having a TOAR is not proof! Would YOU be confident under such circumstances?