Looking for Guidance on what MMC to get Inland/Hudson River/Champlain Canal


New poster here looking for some guidance. Also very new to the merchant mariner world and terminology, so bear with me. I am an active duty USN SWO (Nuclear) O-4 interested in obtaining USCG MMCs. From other sources including sailorbob.com I understand my existing sea service will translate well to 2nd Mate Unlimited OC/NC, however I am interested in what credentials I should apply for to find a post-Navy job on the Hudson River/ Champlain Canal/ Erie Canal system.
I am interested in driving tugs pushing barges or towing, and also any other vessels that use these waters.
After I retire from active duty I will not be very interested in open ocean sailing.
I have 44 months of sea duty in topside/ Officer of the Deck type jobs and 51 months of sea duty in engineering billets.

My biggest problem right now is I do not know what GRT vessels sail these waters or what companies I could contact to find out. Google searches have been slim pickings so far.

Does anyone have any advice on what credentials to apply for?
Does anyone know names of companies that sail these waters or use the Port of Albany?

Any guidance is greatly appreciated.

It won’t be quick or easy to get what you need to work as mate on a towing vessel. You are going to have to put in time on deck, a 2nd/3rd Mate license alone is not enough. The shortest path for you is probably to get 2nd or 3rd Mate (or any mate endorsement for greater than 200 GRT), get at least 30 days under observation and training on a towing vessel, and complete a Towing Officer Assessment Record (“TOAR”). The TOAR is a series of demonstrations of knowledge and practical skill similar to a military PQS. It needs to be signed off by a Coast Guard approved “Designated Examiner” (DE). You will almost certainly need more than 30 days on deck of a towing vessel to be able to do the entire TOAR. More info on the TOAR is in NVIC 03-16.

Make sure any company you work on deck with has a Designated Examiner that can sign your TOARs.


This company runs tugs in canal, NY harbor & Hudson R. It may be worth contacting them.



Another possibility is working in NY harbor/ LI Sound. There are a fair number of companies doing that.

What was your commissioning source? Did you attend the USNA? If so, this would/should allow you to sit for either 3rd Mate or 3rd AE. If not, then your first 1080 days of credited underway time goes towards that 3rd slot.

After that you need an additional 360 underway days for each upgrade, i.e. to 2nd Mate, Chief Mate and Master.

Do you expect to accrue additional sea duty with deck watch responsibilities prior to retirement? Unless you can clearly and positively show greater underway time, then you will be credited with underway time equal to 60% of the time assigned to sea duty.

This would be 792 days for your 44 months of deck time and 918 days for your 51 months of engineering time. So, enough for Chief Mate or 1st AE if you went to boat school, but not enough to sit for 3rd if you need that first 1080 days.

I was a mustang, E1 to E5 (enlisted Nuc) and O1 to O5 as a SWO, with far more sea time than you. Retired in 1993 with 28 years total service. My Transcript of Sea Service was evaluated in 1989 and I was credited with 2,077 days of deck time and 1600 days of engineering watches. Sat for unlimited deck license accordingly.

Best wishes and thank you for your service.


ToolTruckGuy had a good recommendation, pretty decent company that has grown in the past few years. Ask for Rob Goldman.

Engine time can be used for no more than 3 months of the total required for 3rd Mate. See 46 CFR 11.407(a)(1).

I commissioned through OCS, so no credit there.

I plan on XO/CO/RO prior to retirement, so I’ve got 7-9 years before I get out. I am on shore tour and have time to focus on the MMC process now. Right now it would probably be worth it for me to obtain the credentials I am eligible for and upgrade later.

As an aside, what was your rate and where did you do prototype? I qualified on S8G and also did my post-Divo shore tour at NPTU Ballston Spa.

Thank you for your time and your service!

Thank you for the info!

Thank you for the clarification, as I was not aware that any engine time could be credited to 3rd Mate. And if it wasn’t clear in my response to the OP, I was not adding any of that engine time to his deck time, just tallying it separately.

Without boat school, you will need the additional sea duty time to meet the 1080 + 360 days to sit for an original 2nd Mate. Rough calculation is about 31 more months of sea duty.

Unless jdcavo corrects me, I’m pretty certain that use of USN sea duty time is a one-shot deal, creditable towards an original license or credential. Subsequent upgrades are based on time sailing on that license, so additional USN sea time would not count for further upgrades. I was 83 days short of an original Unlimited Master license, so I sat for Chief Mate Unlimited, then Master 1600 Tons. I already had an inspected license for small auxiliary sailing vessels, so it was rolled in to the new issue.

You’re generally correct, see 46 CFR 10.231(d)(1).

Try Coeymans too, seen a lot of their boats up that way. Haven’t heard too much about them. You’ll want to run deck for a little bit just to understand what’s going on. Agree with everything posted above. You’re 7-9 yrs away from retirement and actually sailing on your MMC? I don’t see much point in getting one now quite frankly. You’ll still have to resubmit recency once you’re done and ready to go commercial.

Ah, I definitely have not seen anything that would have led me to believe I couldn’t use future USN service towards upgrades. Thank you for clearing that up.

My general though process is I have the time to put towards obtaining credentials, so why not? But also to be prepared in case plans change. I fully intend to retire from the Navy but who knows if things will change.

I appreciate the perspective. Right now from your and ocnslr’s posts it sounds like I’m putting the cart before the horse here

Lots of great info and references above.

As I noted, since you didn’t go to “boat school” then you need 1080 days to sit for 3rd Mate. You don’t have that now, and will need future sea duty assignments to gain more creditable sea time.

You want to be able to use all of your USN deck sea time towards Mate, and ‘using’ it now will likely preclude using it later for any upgrade. Don’t jump the gun on this and render future options FUBAR.

Just an old Mustang giving some advice.

Logical but in 7-9yrs who knows what new credentials might be required. Nothing wrong with gathering information but the way the NMC is pushing a very specific type of credentialing system for the commercial side i think it makes little sense to pursue now. Lots going on with Sub M and without a maritime academy it takes some time to get what you need and like others have said, don’t waste your seatime if you only have one go. It’s a industry that requires time worked in the field to gain proper knowledge. I’ve worked with ex-Navy and ex-CG crew and they’ve struggled at first because I don’t think the training provided by the military translates all that well to the tug world.

NMC is not pushing anything. They don’t make regulations or policy, they follow them.

Any change (none are planned) takes a ,long time, and there is grandfathering. Implementing STCW 95 was not done until 2013, with grandfathering to 2017. Same for the 2010 amendment to STCW. The creation of towing vessel specific endorsements took over 10 years, with 5 years of grandfathering after that. Tankerman endorsement also took about 10 years.

Sub M has nothing to do with licensing, but it took about 10 years to get done.

You’re right about Sub M not being about licensing but it is indicative of the direction the industry is going and what is required of a Mariner to work in the sector and what types of operators will exist in the space. The pool of people will change as a result. Also right about NMC as an enforcement agency but again, that’s the direct link most mariners deal with on a regular basis. My overall point is that the industry could potentially look very different in ten years so why waste $$ and time now to go through credentialing process for an original issue when there’s no intention of using it for a decade. Kind of like getting a learners permit with no car and no intention of practicing at all before getting your license. But all valid points stated above.

If he gets 3rd Mate now, he can upgrade it while still in the Navy (e.g. time as OOD might be used to raise 3rd Mate to 2nd Mate). Leaving with way more sea time than needed for 3rd Mate may not get him anything further (i.e. the surplus is wasted). Also, some Navy training can be used to meet STCW requirements, but there is a time limit (usually 5 years), waiting until he gets out may mean that training is too old and needs to be repeated.

Lots of great points, facts and opinions here from several folks. I think the key fact is that the OP did not attend “boat school” and doesn’t have sufficient deck time now to meet the 1,080 days to sit for an original 3rd Mate. He needs to accrue a bit more sea time for deck credit. JMHO.

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