Looking for advice

Hello all, I have a professional question to those of you who are wiser than I. To some I may of done this in what you may see as a reverse order, but allow me to explain. I am a 100t near coastal master, who came from the commercial/charter fishing industry, and is currently in the oilfield industry. I want to progress to a higher tonnage license, and potentially make more money than the crewboat industry pays, my endorsements are the basics as of now, what advice from you guys would be my best next move. I have an endorsement for the following, assistance towing, fh, os, wiper as well as I also have a crane operator license, and an fcc radio operator license… Furthermore I am an awful good Mechanic and can read and work on electrical as I was raised in a shop, and learned an awful lot at an early age. Should I get something like an ab, or should I go further into the path and go get something such as radar… There are so many things that someone can obtain, that I am confused on the best route to further my career… Thank you all ahead of time for your advice…

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@CaptainRonSmith Do you live south of I-10 or just commute to work? Home location and a willingness to travel would skew any responses you might get. Also what kind of boats are you working on currently?

I work out of the Gulf of Mexico, predominately out of Lauisianna, and currently on 165 ft crew boat.

Never a good idea to post your mariner reference number online man…

I’m not an expert on this but I was stuck in a similar box and this is what I did. To get a higher tonnage license, I needed sea time on higher tonnage boats. Using the sea time I already had, coupled with the 100T license, I got an AB ticket. I remember having to take some additional training, one of which was lifeboat and a few other things I don’t remember. I took that AB card to the SIU hall, and shipped out deep sea from the bottom of the ladder. You’re then looking at 4 more years of sea time on unlimited tonnage if that’s where you want to go.
It’s a long hard slog and I don’t recommend it. If I had to do it over again, I would take that time and energy and invest it in an academy.
PS I assumed your goal was deck department based on your license but you mention being a good mechanic. You might want to consider the engineering department.


If you want to stay oilfield look at getting your AB or Oiler and move to supply boats to increase tonnage. Your crew boat time counts for half the required deck time necessary to get your next license.

You are at a tough decision point. Do you take a few year step back to DH in vessels over 200ton, and then some more over 1600ton to get an unlimited license? Or just a year or two to go for over 100 ton, and get a 500/1600ton… personally with all the BS in the industry now, if I was 30 years younger I’d go be an electrician and be home nights. However I digress.
The only thing I can say stay away from is the ‘Apprentice Steersman’ towing vessel route. That is unnecessarily drawn out and takes extra years to do. Get at least a 500:1600gt license. Then you only need to document 30 days on a tug to get signed off.

Note I didn’t say you ARE going to get signed off. Just that’s the quickest way possible for a qualified individual to go on tugs.

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Yep. Very true.
Upgrade as soon as you can. 100 grt master can go to 500 grt master with 1080 days. Problem is, getting all your stcw requirements out of the way and that license won’t be worth a damn unless you get DP or a master of tow.
So then you would most likely have to sail ab on a tug and get your toar handled, or get DP and stay in the oilfield. Either way we are talking some time and money.

More opportunities will come and be available once you get out of the 100 ton crewboat box.

Getting your AB now and sailing on it would only be advantageous i think if you intended to get a mate’s license which requires documented time as AB.

So, Lemme get this straight, being on a crewboat counts 1/2 per Day, vs a supply/tug counts day for day towards sea time? Furthermore, None ofy sea time counts towards a higher tonnage license until I possess an AB or DP endorsement. That said, if I feel I could teach the class, due to my being raised around 11 wreckers, a 300 car 100 18 wheeler junkyard, a shop that did diesel as well as auto repair, combined with my unlicensed engineer experience on these as well as fishing vessels, would it be better to go after an engineer endorsement, or both the ab, and engineer… Or should I go get AB, as a start and move to a bigger higher paying company. Lastly, I understand I can make great money as a skilled proffesional on land, I sold a succesful finish carpentry business with 8 employees, for over 200k because I wanted to follow a dream of being on the water, so for me, that’s not an option, as this is a choice, that I am loving following…

Not quite. For Seatime a day is considered an ‘8 hour day’. On vessels where a 12 hour day is ‘authorized’ when properly documented a 12 hour day counts as a ‘day and a half’.

All your sea time is valid. However for licenses 500 ton plus a certain portion must be partly on vessels over 50 ton; For a1600 Ton time And/ or as AB, over 100 ton. and/or over 1600 ton for an unlimited license.

For instance you cannot go to USCG with 1440 days as operator of 99 ton crew boats and get a 1600 ton master. You’d have to have some time as AB on vessels over 100Gt. But you could get a 500 ton master with over 50 tons.

I think I see where your confusion over days counting as 50%. The 50% refers to time in service on inland vessels counts toward 50% of the seatime needed. So you are saying you only work inland? Then apply for an inland 500 ton master. Then use seatime later to increase route.

Rgr, so then my 12 hour days, on a 93 ton crewboat if properly documented offshore, count up to a 500 ton Master, and are more solid and mean more if I go ahead and invest the time and money in an ab… That said, does anybody know if the testing that I did in 2018 for 100 ton near coastal, As well as assistance towing test will count towards the ab, or will I need to retest deck general etc? Or will I simply need to tie a few knots and name them in the timeline, show documented sea time and pay the appropriate fees?

As long as you have enough time on boats as master or mate over 50 grt, you can get approved for the 500 grt master. Then, assuming you get to sail on it, if you accrue time as master or mate on vessels over 100 grt you can upgrade to 1600 grt master with no further testing.
Like i said earlier, that license isn’t very marketable these days without DP or a master of tow however.
You will need to get your AB eventually even if you never end up sailing as one. If you decide to get a mate’s license instead you will definately need time as an AB.
You will need to take the AB exam. Although a lot of the subject matter is similair to the 100 ton master, you will need to take the exam and/or do a course.
Go to the NMC website and go over all the checklists to be sure you know what is entailed no matter what course you take. The stcw requirements are expensive and extensive and most employers want you to have them even though they may not be required.

Take it from a guy who has both deck and engine credentials. In general there is less competition getting engineer jobs as opposed to mate/captain jobs…and a lot of engineer jobs pay close to the same if not more than their deck counterparts.
Most folks want the glory of being a navigator and looking out windows. They don’t want to bilge dive or dig corn out of the MSD system.
Some deck time can be used as credit to engine credentials. Once again, look at the checklists. In your case you could try to work as an unlicensed engineer somewhere then get your qmed and/or a license once you get the time.
Getting most licenses deck or engine or ratings for that matter are a pain in the ass these days. Definately have to prepare yourself to invest in yourself.

Not necessarily, at least as far as getting the 500 GRT license is concerned. The 2013 rulemaking that implemented STCW2010 got rid of the requirement that anyone licensed for over 200 GRT has to be an AB. Whether one can be employable without is a different issue. Also, if you take the exam for Master 500, you shouldn’t need the separate AB exam. If you go for AB before Master 500, there will be an exam.

We cleared this up a while back. I don’t see anything dangerous about giving out your Mariner #. It’s not a social security # and I don’t see anyway someone can use it maliciously. I don’t give it out mainly because I don’t need to.

Well thanks for clearing that up.

That’s not as good a route as it used to be since the license is worthless without the STCW endorsement and it isn’t an automatic endorsement anymore. Plus, for Master you have to do both OICNW and Master classes and assessments. (That route used to be a great way for crew boat guys to get around the requirement for STCW to move up to larger vessels.)

Which explains how I did it, and lucky me I did it when it was easier.

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The benefit as far as towing vessels is it is faster to get a 500 ton license then you only ‘need’ 30 days off n a towing vessel and a signed TOAR to take your own watch.
Not saying a TOAR Can actually be completed in 30 days. But that’s the fastest legal route to operate a towing vessel.

By contrast a candidate for a 100/200 ton master mate license apprentice steersman need the original time, the exam and then an additional year and a half AS apprentice. I know of few companies (if any) that actually hire as apprentice steersman.

To my mind the apprentice position was supposed to be solely as a learning teaching position. It appears that how it is currently being used is to learn between deck jobs.

Your post is correct but not the intended audience of the discussion. The guys working on 100 ton licenses that want to upgrade rarely want to move into towing and the ones that really exploited the system were crewboat and utility boat captains moving up to supply boats.

On a working tug maybe not, but there’s nothing to say you can’t get the TOAR done before getting the license.