Hi everyone. My name is Anthony. I’m currently a senior in high school and I’m looking into vessel operations. I was wondering what kind of licenses allow me to do what and I cant seem to find anything besides the most general of posts on the net. I’m torn between the 200 ton and the 800 ton licenses. Can anyone give me some good information to help me make my decision?

in a 5 second google search I found this by typing in USCG licenses, if you don’t like the internet go buy the book “The New Hawsepipe” by Leonard Lambert, it will tell you everything you want to as far as Hawse piping the Unlimited tonnage side goes

You can Hawsepipe it, go to a Maritime Academy, or the PMI/Mitags workboat Academy

If your not sure what those are google them, Spend at least a month googleing Maritime related words, use the search function on here.

I spent 4 months researching maritime stuff and reading as much as I could, Then I asked questions on what I hadn’t answered for my self.

Good luck in your search.


  1. There is no 800 ton license.

  2. They are very self explanatory. A master license lets you be master, a mate license lets you be a mate, and a towing license lets you work on towing vessels. The tonnage attached is the maximum tonnage you can operate with your license.

Ahhhhh. I was looking through the different courses at a college and it had different tonnage. It didn’t specify the exact license. That is a helpful piece of info. Thank you.

One thing to keep in mind is you need sea time for any license. The one exception is going to an academy and going the 3rd mate route. So in short assuming you have not worked on a boat while in high school your choice is work deck or go to an academy.


Antony. Do you have any boating experience? Have any relatives to ask for honest experiences? This us a pretty good forum to get such info.

There have been numerous ( a freaking huge amount actually) of info like that on this forum. Use the search function. Some key words that come to mind would be: new deck hand, entry level, trying to find a job, would you recommend this career to a young person, etc. I would bet that you would get some of the pertinent info you need to ask specific questions.

Don’t forget that there are engineer’s licenses, too.

If you are serious about wanting to get into the marine world, spend 30 minutes googling “army 88k”. The army has a number of vessels, and all their training is to USCG standards so the skills and training will easily transfer for USCG licensing.

If I were a senior in high school, I’d take a very serious look at it. You can come out of the program with a good license with all your training paid for by Uncle Sam.

I don’t have any first hand experience with the 88K program, but others on this forum have mentioned it. Sounds it would be worth looking into in your situation.

My plan is actually to go through Maine Maritime Academy. i want to major in Vessel Operations of some kind with a minor in their Powerplant Engineering. They have 3 different programs there though. I have already decided to go through the first level program which by what their site says gives out a certain tonnage license. Just trying to figure out how far I want to go through their programs to accomplish what I would like to. I don’t want to operate anything HUGE. I’m thinking something along the lines of a ferry or tugboat, but I have also thought of some bigger boats such as freight or cruise ships. Trying to get a feel of what I need to do to get this.

[QUOTE=cmakin;58765]Don’t forget that there are engineer’s licenses, too.[/QUOTE]
Amen! Seems to be a shortage of Engineers here

Haha,and you are right!!

Hey guys i have a friend of mine who has his qmed and able seaman endorsement. He was recently charged with possession of marijuana. He notified the coastguard of his charges and he says they told him to wait until he goes to court and see what the final verdict will be. Will the coastguard take both of his endorsements? Is there any kind of way he could keep his endorsements?

[QUOTE=rock82;58802]Hey guys i have a friend of mine who has his qmed and able seaman endorsement. He was recently charged with possession of marijuana. He notified the coastguard of his charges and he says they told him to wait until he goes to court and see what the final verdict will be. Will the coastguard take both of his endorsements? Is there any kind of way he could keep his endorsements?[/QUOTE]

I think [I]you[/I] are going to lose both. :stuck_out_tongue:

The question on the license app asks: have you been CONVICTED.

It does NOT say charged.

Too bad your ‘friend’ didn’t look for professional advice BEFORE he opened his yap to the CG.

If I were you, I would find new friends to associate with!

If he is convicted he will likely loose his documents for a 12 month minimum, have to undergo therapy, AA, and NA. And have a psych evaluation. Then (maybe) the CG will give him his docs back. Maybe.

@cappy 208 thanks for the advice and youre right the app does say convicted. I’m courious of what route my friend could have taken if he didn’t notify the CG first. He said he use to hear guys talking offsore about random stories and he always heard that if u ever got in trouble to notify the cg immediately. As far as associating with new friends thats not gonna happen, me and this guy has been buddies since the sandlot, we’ve been through tougher situations in life, this is just another chapter in his book, besides thats what friends are for, to be by your side in the good as well as the bad times, again thanks for your adive and time.

It’s funny to hear of someone in the industry who uses pot. It has the longest (by far) retention in the body, and is the easiest to get popped for. Part of the remedy will be that he will have to have really often drug screens (paid by him) for a year or so after too. That will cost WAY more than any pot he would have bought.

Years ago, when pot use was prevalent aboard, and they came out with the drug tests it took a couple years for guys to realize they were juggling a few hours high for a years unemployment. That’s a huge amount of time to waste for a quick buzz.

I remember (vaguely) those days. I have a cousin who came by my place on his way to the union hall and sparked one up. I asked him if he was crazy? His response was “I got a system”. One week later he was unemployed and he would up losing his z-card for 18 months.

In addition to having the Coast Guard put you through hell for a drug conviction.

Once you are finished jumping through all of the hoops to get your license back, who or what company that is worth 2cents will hire you?

If you want a commercial maritime career you have to decide to quit all of that substance abuse.

Imagine a general manager explaining to the NTSB or the Owner of the company that you knew that this mariner had a history of drug abuse, but you thought he had stopped using. The next action by the General Managers boss is to fire the GM.

I have personal knowledge of a really good hand that refused a drug test, had his MMD suspended, restored, and returned to work under very strict guidlines. ( drug testing every week ) And would you believe after he had been back to work for about a year, he was just about to get his regular engineering position back. And he relapsed and started using again, refused one of his weekly drug tests, and the company permanently washed their hands of the guy. A year later the GM was replaced, did this have anything to do with it? I dont know…

If you want to have a long and prosperous life, don’t do drugs, or abuse alcohol.