How to get "Mate" sea time on a Harbor Assist Tug that only uses deckhands

I work on a 150GRT Harbor Tug that requires 3 crew members: 1 licensed Master, 1 QMED, and 1 deckhand. I am the “deckhand” and hold a 500T/Mate/NC and Mate of Towing license. I can legally stand watch as a mate but it doesn’t happen that often. My daily duties are very similar to those of a “Mate”.

Is there a way for me to get “Mate” sea time towards my 500T Master License? Could “Deckhand” be considered “Equivalent Position”? Is there a particular language that I could include in my sea time letter to address this issue such as “Mate Trainee” or “Master Trainee”?

Thank you to anyone who can help out on this one!

No. You are a deckhand not a Mate.

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What are the duties you perform that you feel are mate duties?

Does your company refuse to write the sea time letter as “mate” time?

That wouldn’t count towards your Master license at all.

The Mate duties that I perform include: standing a watch, running and logging required drills, updating charts, ordering supplies, and daily “deck officer” paperwork.

I have not asked my company to write my sea time letter as “Mate” time. Is this a common practice for someone in my position and is it legal? If so, I will definitely make a push for that.

Thank you for the responses.

But the COI doesn’t call for a mate correct? If the company is willing to falsify a seatime letter and write it as Mate time instead of deckhand, I’d be gravely concerned about what else they’d be willing to falsify to the Coast Guard.

Not to mention, if NMC catches that one, you’d feel the heat from it and not just your company.

That’s irrelevant.

It sounds like he’s sailing as a mate that also handles lines. How is it falsifying anything?

So, by that same mindset, a 1600 ton mate on an OSV that has a COI that doesn’t call for a “Chief Mate” should be able to have his sea time letter say chief mate? This one has been asked and answered. If you’re a deckhand, you’re a deckhand, if you’re a mate, you’re a mate. Same as the Mate vs Chief Mate sea time letters.


It’s been discussed ad nauseum here that you can’t write a sea time letter for a non-existent position on the vessel. Right @jdcavo?

Straight out of 46 CFR:

“Chief mate means the deck officer next in rank to the master and upon whom the command of the vessel will fall in the event of incapacity of the master.”

I don’t see any mention of a COI anywhere in that definition…

(BTW, people are getting Chief Mate sea time on OSVs now. Haven’t you been paying attention?)

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Yeah, I know that CFR too. Helped people use it even. The company still can’t write up the sea time letter as Chief Mate if there’s no Chief Mate on the vessel. Everyone that I know that has used the “next in line to the Master” has had to get a separate letter attesting to them serving in that position.

Yeah, there are OSVs that actually call for a Chief Mate on the COI these day bub. Have you been paying attention??

That was an old (incorrect) requirement by the NMC that some companies are still afraid of even though they can write Chief Mate in the sea time letter. Even my tug company writes Chief Mate sea time letters.

Tugboats, fishing boats, and many research vessels and are uninspected vessels with no COI. The Mate positions are whatever title anyone wants to call them. When there are two mates, most companies and the logbooks use the titles Chief mate and second mate.

If there’s no COI and no manning requirement, then why are they a chief mate or a mate even? Why wouldn’t they be a Bosun or an AB? Obviously it’d come down to whether they stood a navigational watch I guess as the oicnw (actual rating not required). But even in those cases why should it be up to the company or captain to decide whatever it is. I think in the OPs description of his job he’s the one and only deckhand, that makes him a deckhand as far as the USCG would see it. Maybe Mr Cavo will weigh in; it seems pretty straight forward, but what do I know.

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The CFRs require a licensed Master and at least one licensed Mate for a tugboat, and for a voyage over 600 miles two licensed mates. Some companies for some vessels elect to provide two licensed mates regardless of voyage length. The fact that the vessel does not have a COI is irrelevant.

For those of you who live in the COI world, deep sea, oil patch, passenger boats, ferries, etc., it may seem odd not to have a COI, but the very vast majority of US commercial vessels, particularly something like 10,000 tugs and Towboat’s , do not have COIs. That is changing with Subchapter M, but it’s a slow change taking place over several years.

Fishing vessels over 200 GRT must have licensed officers, but they are not inspected and do not have a COI. Neither do most research vessels.

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It sounds very mate like to me:

Yea I agree those are totaly mate duties, but as the only deckhand, if he’s standing a watch he’d have no one to handle lines or do any deck work while he’s in the pilot house, unless he gave the wheel over to the captain.

The harbor tug that I work on is uninspected, less than 200Tons, and there is no COI. Also, the QMED acts as an engineer/deckhand as needed.

In my opinion, there must be some way to get “mate” sea time. Otherwise, there would be no route to go from deckhand to master on this type of harbor tug.

See 46 CFR 11.464( c).