Looking for advice to get back to sea

I was in the Navy for 8 years but I have been separated for more than 7 years and would like to go back to working at sea. Will I still be able to use my sea time accrued while in the Navy, I am not exactly sure due to the recency requirements the the USCG requires. I was an Electrician while in the Navy and have been since I got out so I am hoping that I can use my experience to get the QMED credential? I have applied for my TWIC and am just looking for some answers before I start my MMC. Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance

Recency only applies for licenses, so for QMED, there are no recency requirements. For licenses, the recency requirement for military service is 3 months of the total must have been in the past 7 years.

There is an exam for QMED. You can take a course instead of the exam, but for QMED the courses are rather long, and expensive.

You MAY need some STCW endorsements depending where you will work. For now I would focus on getting the QMED endorsement then look into employment options and what they require.


Thanks for the information! So I can assume that my sea time from the Navy will translate even though I have been out of the service for 7 years?

That what he said.

Yes. Sea time does not expire.

I sailed with a guy that was an electrician in the Navy and his time didn’t count for anything. Maybe someone knows exactly what rates in the Navy the USCG accepts sea time from. Maybe you can get an ETO.

The Coast Guard will take 60% of your sea time and convert it to time for a QMED rating. My initial enlistment in the Navy, from 1989 to 1994, I accumulated 3 years of sea time as an Electrician’s Mate.

This allowed me to take the QMED Oiler course at Seaschool, in Bayou La Batre, AL. I only mention them because their prices are cheaper, and they provide the students with room and board. Also, this is probably the fastest way to be fast-tracked into the maritime industry and start with good wages. If you’re set on being an EM starting out, then maybe one of these more experienced mariners can advise you, as i’m green as a blade of grass.

Someone also mentioned a STCW. You will need that. It’s 5 days and you will learn basic firefighting, first aid/CPR, survival craft, and social responsibility. Basically remedial training from the Navy.

Thanks for the info! Do I have to take a course like you mentioned or can I just take the QMED exam through the USCG? Also I have had a heck of a time trying to figure out how to get my Navy transcript of sea service, or will my History of Assignments be enough for that? I can’t figure out if it’s the same thing or two different things? If they are different any idea where to go to get the Transcript of sea service? Sorry for all the questions I just haven’t been able to find much direction of how to proceed. Thanks again

You don’t have to take the QMED course from a USCG approved school. If you have more time than money, you can take the marine advancement QMED Oiler course, or the QMED Junior Engineer course, and study at your own pace, then test out. I went to Sea school only to expedite the MMC process, but we’re talking a $2500.00, 15 day course, versus buying the $120.00 flash drive.

Since you separated 7 years ago, your History of Assignments should suffice. I don’t believe you will have a sea service transcript after 7 years. My consultant sent them my DD-214’s, which shows your sea counter, and my HOA’s.

You can get the TOSS from PERS-312. You’ll have to send them an SF-180 with the request.


You’ll also definitely want to get a copy of your evals, especially those that describe your qualifications and watchstanding. You probably don’t have too high of a hill to climb for QMED, but if you think that you’ll ever want to get an officer’s license you’ll need all of that documentation anyways.

MSM Vol III pt 4

That’s all from their Coastie reference for licensing. Basically, as an EM if you don’t have documented time in the plant as a watchstander your time may not count (which is probably what happened to that guy in the story the other poster told).


Thanks for all the information, greatly appreciated!

Response to your questions. Use everything provided in this thread and develop a direction of how to proceed. A possible plan is
For your USCG application:
(1) As suggested refer to the Military to Mariner portals at Maritime Administration and National Maritime Center websites both provide excellent guidance.
(2) Developing a point of contact list of individuals supporting your goal.
(3) Records: Gather all of your military records that you have left from when you were discharged i.e. History of Assignments, Letters of Qualifications, Evaluations, any awards or commendations relating to your shipboard duties and etc.
Submit a SF 180 Request for Service Records specifically to your sea time and supportive documents to PERS-312.
The goal is to gather everything that can to support your USCG application.
(4) Spend some time looking at the National QMED Checklist. Note that you with 6 months are qualified for various QMED endorsements. 46 CFR 12.501
(5) At the same time, I recommend looking at Engine Ratings STCW Checklist requirements for Basic Training, Vessel Personnel w/ Security Duties, Ratings Forming Part of an Engineering Watch, and Able Seafarer Engine.

Test Requirements:
Using 46 CFR 12.505 Examination you can identify the subjects and topics on USCG required examination modules. Use the NMC Sample Examination for QMED to get a general sample of the style of questions used by the Coast Guard. You may find that it may benefit you based on subjects and topics to apply for an Oiler rather than Electrician/Refrigerating Engineer. Another method of reviewing your knowledge skill level is reviewing USCG sample question provided by various Q&A software or attending schoolhouse training to achieving you goal.

Testing options: (1) testing through the USCG Regional Exam Center or
(2) Attend a USCG Approved School with GI Bill Approval if you still have eligibility.

Employment Options:
(1) Consider the QMED employment opportunities at the various locations that meet your lifestyle requirements. i.e., Great Lakes, Western Rivers, Near Coastal or Deep Sea.
(2) If you want to sail deep sea then consider the various deep sea engineering unions found in other forum categories.
Use the NMC checklist and the cited CFR references to verify my statements.

I’m a little late here, but no one has mentioned using your GI Bill to get your license as an engineer or deck officer. It’s a longer option, but a great one if you’re looking to do this long-term.

I’m 41 yo, and just graduated with my masters from SUNY Maritime and with an unlimited deck license using the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

SUNY Maritime is a yellow ribbon school, so your tuition is covered 100%. Your housing allowance (BAH) is around $3,450 a month. It’s a $100K program and you earned it with your military service.

There is also Cal Maritime, Texas A&M Galveston, Mass Maritime, Maine, and the Great Lakes.

Just an option for you to consider. :call_me_hand:t3:


How long did it take you to complete the school? The average 4 years? And thanks for the idea I haven’t even thought of that!

If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, then yes, four years. If you do have a bachelor’s, then you can do a 2-2.5 year master’s program (which is what I did).

You get a degree and a license. Totally sets you up for sea or land gigs for life.

Let me know if you have anymore questions. Happy to help and good luck!

To summarize, unless you go the academy route:

  1. get your seatime documented;

  2. apply for your credential as a QMED. Follow the directions. You’ll need a physical at a minimum , and I suggest you apply in the alternative for OS/Wiper. That would get you a bare minimum credential;

  3. assuminng you are Approved to Test, you’ll have the option to take an approved course or study on your own for the CG exam.

  4. in any respect you’ll generally need the STCW Basic course in order to work on anything other than really small stuff.

Good luck and let us know how things work out for you.

Thanks for the info,
As far as applying in the alternative for wiper am I able to do that on the same application or would I need to submit another application?

Same application.

Take with a grain of salt

By now you have done your own researching with the recommendations in this thread you should have developed a realistic plan. Having Navy sea service as an Electrician and reviewing USCG sample examinations for QMEDs you should have some idea as to what is need to make the transition.

In the CG 719 B form Section II Description of Endorsement Desired: You would “request National Endorsement as QMED – Electrician-Refrigeration” or any other Qualified QMED Rating that you feel your experience qualifies you for.

The next option is deciding on your need for and qualifying STCW endorsements. i.e. Basic Training Course, RFPEW, and Able Seafarer-Engine.

Your medical form should be CG-719K 10 pages.

Hopefully this helps.