MMC licensing Application - conversion

New US citizen here with a UK Master’s License (unlimited tonnage) and over 8+ years of recorded sea time on vessels over 50,000GT looking for advice on which “most marketable” original MMC to apply for to access US flagged pax cruise/ferry/exploration or pilot market. Highest possible? 1600 master? NC/OC? min. required for pilotage? your thoughts appreciated.


The easiest one to get on the books for you would be a 100Ton. That will at least get you familiar with the process and requirements. 100T will let you work on most simple ferries and passenger vessels. Your seatime is of course creditable, your foreign certifications are not. The fastest way onto a boat would be to pursue a 100T, then look into the cost and courses for the rest of it, unfortunately.

Edit: Actually, you may be able to go for something like a 200T O/NC. This will might make you slightly more marketable, but most of the jobs you’ll pursue in that capacity will be the same ones as with the 100T license. Eitherway without the USCG Approved STCW Classes, you’re limited until you take those. Checklist below.

Thanks @LI_Domer. I already have USCG approved STCW Adv. FF and PSCRB and have no issues taking any other required STCW courses again in the US. Slight confession… I applied a few years ago for MMC and was granted approval to test for 2nd mate Oceans (unlimited), however this has since expired, and I need to reapply. Would taking a 2nd Mate oceans (unlimited) automatically grant working on a 100/200 ton vessel (as it’s a higher license) or do you have to hold the specific MMC for the GT of the vessel being applied for? I’m unsure if I want to continue deep sea. Good suggestion to aim for 100/200gt to begin with to learn the examination process. There is also a 500gt option, is there any additional value to this?

Yes, if you’re eligible for the higher licenses get them. If you have the Firefighting, get the 500T. The Unlimited Mate License will allow you to sail in the capacity of Master on vessels less then 100T. Some employers may not be familiar with the CFR, so I’d advise getting the 100T Master printed on the license separately anyway. I worked with an unlimited Mates License as a Master on (less then) 100T boats myself, without having it printed and it worked out fine. You have great experience, but your biggest hurdle will be showing employers that you’re a good boat handler, which is an entirely different skill then Captaining a ship.

A while ago, a similarly situated British Unlimited Master told me that he got approval to test for Chief Mate Unlimited.

It would probably make sense to also apply for Master 1600 and Master Inland (Any Gross Tons), especially if you want to work in Ferries.

If you go ride a ferry as an observer and get 20 trips, you could also apply for First Class Pilot, and get your first pilotage endorsement. After that you will only need to do 12 trips for any other pilotage route and the exams will only be the chart sketch.

You might benefit by using a License Consultant. Typically, they are retired USCG licensing program administrators. If you search gcaptain or Google for “USCG license consultant” you should find a few.
Personally, I prefer Chuck Kaksuka.

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I think they do that automatically now for that very reason. Definitely still out it on the application just in case though.

I would say apply straight for Master Unlimited and see what they say. You can deal with getting the STCW bullshit later after you get the license. Make sure you have all your prior officer time will documented, especially your time as Chief Mate and as Master. (There’s no requirement that the time needs to be on US flag vessels.)