I'm dumbfounded! Question about time as an AB for getting third mate unlimited

I applied for an upgrade to third mate (with a tonnage restriction) and got a surprise letter from the NMC.

All of my sea time after getting my first license has been as a “mate or master while holding a license”. I went through the “new system” and got my 1600-ton mate license. Then I upgraded to 1600-ton master license. I have been working as a third officer and second officer on a foreign-flagged 2500 ITC ton vessel for 540+ days since getting my 1600-ton mate license.

Now I am being told by NMC that I cannot upgrade to third mate because I do not have 180 days as an AB, Boatswain or quartermaster while holding an AB endorsement. All of my sea-time after getting my AB endorsement was as a deck officer.

Am I missing something here?

Thanks in advance.

p.s I started out with 100-ton master license and then 20–ton mate before going to 1600-ton mate. I got my AB in 2005 and have sailed 1,080+ days on vessels larger that 200 tons while holding and AB. However my time on deck, while holding an AB, has been as a deck officer.

As a follow-up to my own post, the NMC letter states: “Please submit 180 additional days of service on vessels of over 200 GRT as an AB, Boatswain, or Quartermaster after your AB endorsement…”

As second officer I am the navigation officer of my ship. I’m not sure where the quartermaster job begins or ends.