Job in Paradise

The pay may not be all that much, but the climate and life style should compensate for that:

The pay will be low and it’s not paradise. The US Government does not know how to properly administer overseas territories.

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It is not even close to paradise. A dirty and scruffy place that most American Samoans abandon as soon as they can.

How much does beer cost in American Samoa & how long is the transit?

Somebody should tell Deputy Port Director Christopher King that he should look to recruit & compensate potential employees in other ways if he can’t match US mainland wages. When I was young & single I worked for an outfit in Mexico for a few years that paid substantially less than other companies. The benifits were you made your own schedule, beer & chicks were cheap, everyone was drunk all the time & it was almost impossible to get fired. In some instances wages were close to 50% less than competitor companies but turnover was still low. Some guys spent their whole careers in Mexico at the bar. This ferry can find a low wage, licensed engineer if the working conditions are favorable.

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I hope he can’t find such a desperate engineer for such low wages. That job deserves great benefits and a premium wage.

The US Government and US taxpayers dump enormous amounts of cash that comes from our hard earned wages into American Samoa. It has an incredibly corrupt and mismanaged local goverment that wastes and steals zillions of our tax dollars. They certainly can afford to pay good wages to the skilled American mariners they need.

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However according to the US Coast Guard his license was for purse seiners only and he needed to get a license specifically for transportation.

Wtf? I thought engineer licences was based on the engine not the type of work?

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The USCG issues a trade restricted category of licenses for fishing (similar to towing, and OSVs).

Fishing vessels under 200 GRT (there are thousands of these fishing vessels) do NOT require any licenses.

Fishing vessels over 200 GRT, but less than 5000 GRT (there are probably less than 100 fishing vessels of this size) that require officers with fishing licenses.

Fishing vessels over 5000 GRT require officers with a standard unlimited license. (As far as I know, the OCEAN PHONEIX is the only US flag “fishing vessel” over 5000 tons).

To make it a little more complicated, the Aleutian Trade Act expands to definition of “fishing vessel” to include the small freighters operated by Coastal Transportation and others. couple more owned by Trident Seafoods, and perhaps a couple others.

Today, it makes absolutely no sense for the USCG to be issuing licenses restricted to fishing.

I do not think there are too many guys left who have “fishing only” licenses.

The USCG should do away with the “fishing licenses” , just as they should do away with the OSV only licenses.

To a foreigner (and probably to many Americans) the complexity of the USCG licensing system is amazing.

It seems like half the posts on this forum is about that subject, asking for help to clarify and/or how to jig it to upgrade with minimum effort and costs. (Thanks heaven for Jdcavo)

Equally amazing is why this is still so. USA is a founding member of IMO and signatory to the STCW convention, why not implement international standard for ALL categories of maritime licensing?

And while you are at it, accept equivalent foreign training and certification on a reciprocal basis to enable US seafarers to take their training courses at approved foreign institutions, as well as compete for foreign work.

Oh yes; use ONLY international tonnage and other measurement for all vessels, whether domestic trade only, or foreign going, incl. fishing vessels, or OSVs.

Keeping to your own systems for everything must be a time consuming and costly exercise.


I agree.

The USCG has a handful of very good people who are drowning in a sea of incompents.The USCG is a military bureaucracy focused on military career progression and early retirement. It is hopelessly out of touch with commercial seagoing reality.

USCG regulation only excels at pandering to special interests to boost the lucrative civilian job prospects of its early retirees.

The fishing officer licenses are pre-WW I relics that have not served any legitimate purpose in over 50 years.

The OSV licenses are a blatant sell out to the bayou mafia.

The towing licenses and Subchapter M “inspections” are a blatant sell out to the American Waterways Operators, mostly Mississippi River Towboat companies.

The roadblocks ( which most other countries don’t have) that prevent small vessel mariners from moving up to unlimited licenses are a blatant sell out to the deep sea unions and the maritime academies.


Nope…just like the deck side there are trade restricted engine licenses too.
To convolute things even more there are tonnage ratings in addition to horsepower.

Fishing licenses have slightly different requirements regarding holding an AB or a QMED as you move up. Mainly because those positions have not existed in the majority of the fleet. The exam modules required are the same. I’m not sure what you have against them or why you think there are not many guys left with them. I just obtained two of them in the last two years. :man_shrugging:

There are many more US mariners that operate under the national license (domestic only w/o STCW) than under STCW CoCs (required for international). It would certainly simplify things to have a single licensing system, but at what cost?

Master 1600 GRT / 3000 GT, with no trade restrictions, Master OSV, and Master of Uninspected Fishing Vessels all have similar exams and similar seatime requirements.

Without bothering to look the rules up, IIRC, Master Fishing actually requires more seatime than Master1600/3000 and Master OSV.

If you qualify for Master Fishing, the you also qualify for Master 1600/3000 and Master OSV.

I don’t see any point to the trade restrictions. They accomplish nothing, except confusion and extra paperwork and extra duplicate exams. To the extent there is a difference in the exams, it has no meaningful purpose.

The only difference is tonnage. Master OSV is up to 10,000 tons and Master Fishing is up to 5000 tons. These small tonnage distinctions don’t serve much purpose either

These three trade restricted licenses could be combined with one exam and no trade restrictions.

The tonnage restriction should simply be the International standard STCW 3000 GT.

Seperate regulations , not separate license endorsements, could authorize the holder of STCW 3000 to operate domestic FVs or OSVs up to 6000 GT.

OSVs over 6000 GT should require unlimited licenses.

The situation with the engineering licenses is even more ridiculous than on the deck side. It would be easy enough to merge those too.

There are only about 100 fishing vessels, mostly factory trawlers and tuna seiners, big enough to require a license.

My guess is that most of the mates and engineers on fishing vessels already have either an STCW compliant 3000 GT or unlimited license of some sort. So, a consolidation of most of these licenses should not be too difficult. Undoubtedly, there would be some grandfathering for the existing guys and vessels.

They are the same, 4 years total, at least one as mate. As you noted, the exams are similar. The major difference is that Master UFIV can be for up to 5,000 GRT.

The seatime requirements are slightly different
1080 days of service in the deck department on Ocean, Near Coastal or
Great Lakes waters, OF WHICH

  1. Service on inland waters, other than GL, may substitute for up to 540 of
    the total required service., AND
  2. 360 days of service on vessels of more than 100 GRT, AND
  3. 360 days of service as Master, Mate, or equivalent supervisory position
    while holding an Officer endorsement as Master, Mate, or Master/Mate
    Towing vessels, AND
  4. 180 days of the service as Master, Mate, or equivalent supervisory
    position, must have been on vessels of more than 100 GRT; OR
    1080 days of service in the deck department on Ocean or Near Coastal
    vessels of more than 100 GRT, OF WHICH
  5. 180 days of service must have been while performing bridge
    watchkeeping duties under the supervision of the master or qualified
    officer. OR
  6. 180 days of service as AB (if service began before March 24, 2014).
    1080 days of service on Ocean, Near Coastal or Great Lakes waters, OF
    Service on Inland waters, other than Great Lakes, may substitute for up to 540
    days of the required service

Similar thing on the engine side, the QMED required days aren’t there. The tonnage calculations don’t really matter, if you haven’t worked on higher than 2000 GRT vessels you just get 2000 GRT. This is because some of the trawlers were built at 1700 GRT.
There are positions that exist aboard other vessels that don’t exist aboard fishing vessels such as a watch standing AB and oiler/QMED.
The trade specific license (other than Assistant Engineer UFIV, which is a goddamn shambles) allow qualified people to be granted licenses without specifically seeking out a position aboard a non-industry vessel strictly for the purpose of fulfilling an arbitrary requirement that does nothing to increase professional safety aboard fishing vessels. If you don’t want one, don’t get one. Yes, I qualify for non trade specific licenses. I choose not to get them because it’s a signal to my employers that I don’t intend to take an easy job on a tug or OSV.
It’s a different industry, and the requirements should be different.

The USCG recognizes that service on fishing vessels, and all vessels under 100 tons, do not require crew with the titles or certifications of: OS, AB, QMED, etc, somewhere in the regulations or the USCG policies it says “or the equivalent”. The USCG gives full credit for fishing vessel seatime as a “deckhand.”Service as an unlicensed engineer is also gets full credit. Processor seatime does not count (but it should get partial credit). I cannot remember whether the USCG gives partial credit for “”Combies” (but it certainly should).

A fisherman accumulating seatime on fishing vessels over 1600 tons can eventually qualify for any license, including unlimited Master and unlimited Chief Engineer.

A great many mariners use fishing vessel seatime to qualify for other USCG licenses.

By the way, as long as half of the required seatime is on vessels over 100 tons, and half is over 1600 tons, an unlimited tonnage license will be issued. If less than half the seatime is on vessels under 1600 tons, then a tonnage restriction MAY be placed on the license. Tonnage limitations get complicated after that. Unlimited licenses are issued with a minimum of 2000 tons.

If the discussion in that last few posts does not indicate that the USCG licensing system is an over complicated mess that is poorly understood and difficult to administer, I don’t not what would.

Again, those folks out in American Samoa just need to pay standard US Marine industry wages and benefits to attract and retain properly licensed US mariners. No waivers or exceptions.

Samoan ferry leaking: