Is it still easy to hawsepipe these days ? Can hawsepipers join the amo?

I am not sure if it was ever “easy”, but there are many more hoops to jump through now. So, no, it is not easy. If you haven’t done so already look at the checklists on the USCG’s NMC website to see what is required.

If you have the right license, you can join any one of the officer unions.


Thank you should have reworded that I know it’s never been easy. I meant to ask is it still possible basically haha

Its definately possible, but harder now than it was before 2017. I always tell people starting out these days, if you have the means, go to an academy.


Deck or Engine?
Sea Time + many STCW classes that will cost about $25,000 not including lodging, food and on your off time. Also no guarantee that you will be prepared to pass the many exams to advance.
Exam prep and exams will get you to junior officer 3rd Officer. Then another bunch of STCW classes and about $20,000 or more, exam prep and exams for senior grade licenses.
If you are young and able, look into any of the academies for a streamlined path.
This whole system contributes to the Mariner shortage. We will have a big problem when the next wave of senior licenses retire. There are also endorsements required like mate of tow or Tankerman PIC or Dynamic Positioning that add more time and expense to this path and reduce your marketability without them.
It’s almost like it’s a system intentionally created to destroy The Jones Act with an ever shrinking mariner pool of people not willing to jump through said hoops for a day rate that can be beat by many other shore side jobs that don’t restrict your lifestyle or can put you in jail.
Yeah, Salty AF.


I have an ab unlimited im 26 I think I rather just take the courses that are necessary and study until I’m ready to test. Although I guess I’m still young enough to go back school.

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See if you can get Tankerman PIC if you don’t have already. Towing endorsement also opens doors. Oil patch hiring with a possible path to DP. Some companies will pay or help with costs for upgrades too. Many don’t.

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If you already have the sea time for AB unlimited, you may consider going to a work boat type school like what MITAGS offers. 2 Years of alternating courses and sailing with a partner company. All of the courses are included and most finish with a 1600 mate, but with your sea time you would likely finish with a 3/M.

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you would be spending alot of time shore side getting all the layers of certifications you would need at the least alot of time on line training. not sure its worth climbing up the pipe anymore

Just like two routes to become licensed (academy and hawsepipe), there are two financial plans of action to consider. With an academy it will cost at least $90k and 4 years without an income, but you do come away with a 3rd unlimited and STCW. A drawback however…. no real relevant experience in the operation of the vessel. Going the hawsepipe route, and working 2/1, you can start as an OS making $66k/year immediately and realistically jumping to $100k/year in your second year. Schooling will be approx $50k, and there will be difficulties with working classes into your time off schedules. Within the same 4 years, you can end up with the same license as a newly licensed/graduated academy person, but have 4 years of deck or engineroom experience already. The big advantage for the academy is the degree that comes with the license, which opens the door to many shoreside positions.


Back in the day before all these endorsements/certifications/ regulations… It wasn’t easy, but a bit easier and much less costly. I had very heavy bags with books for studying while onboard and a drafting table in my home. Hawespiping then was kinda ok. Nowadays, fucking near impossible. My advice would be go to an academy, no matter which one. Same advice I gave my son. It turned out quite well.


I have my tankerman pic I was thinking once I did get my 3m unlimited that I would join the amo.

I heavily advise against the academy route. 100k and 4 years down the drain. Sail AB in the SIU and take advantage of the AB to mate programs.

Want to sail 3AE? Look into AMO’s TECH program. Two years and no debt and you’re sailing 3AE.

You gain no real sailing experience at an academy and no industry connections. In my experience, the academy system sets you up for failure (though you will have the checkmarks).

I will also add, the overall quality of a maritime academy education pales in comparison to bigger state schools. (I say this having done both!)

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I would have to agree with @Rustee, if you are looking to hawsepipe to 3M, consider joining the SIU and use their school for the classes necessary to get that ticket. At the moment they are hurting for AB’s so getting a job should not be an issue. Not sure what hoops the SIU will require for you to get your first job, but it is well worth visiting a hall and speaking with them directly. (To take classes at their school you need 125 days of seatime in the previous calendar year on an SIU contracted vessel.)

Thank you for the advice! Definitely want to go for my unlimited license. Would like to work on drillships if possible. I guess anything is possible

For a guy with AB unlimited already, it makes sense to just Hawsepipe for another 6 months to qualify for 3rd Mate

Time is money. Start taking the courses now. You can earn back the cost of the courses working one month as a 3rd Mate.


Was not aware of the AB Unlimited you had before I posted. Tugsailor is giving good advice. My bad, thinking you were just starting out. If that were the case… standby my original advice to seek out any academy that you are comfortable with. As one poster said, that degree will come in handy down the road. Son just finished his MBA and is working ashore now as a mid level manager for a decent employer and salary…

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Consider OSVs or applying to drillship companies and work up. You will need to add DP to your list along with, ballast control and a whole host of rig/GOM specific certs . But you can get DP days before you are a mate. You will need to take 1st of 2 required classes in order to start accumulating the 120 DP days for the Nautical Institute scheme. DP day = at least 2 hours on DP which can take a while on OSVs where a drill ship will be on DP every day. Each path of employment has a rabbit hole of requirements, endorsements, certifications that make a 3M ticket more limited than unlimited. Your Tankerman PIC will serve you well with AMO but you may find it difficult to hop over to DP/Drillships.

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Would have to double check, but the NI will not let you join the DP basic class without some sort of officer endorsement, and if that’s the case you cannot accumulate DP time until basic is completed.

Is it possible for a hawespiper in the msc ?