My guide to getting your Navy Sea time counted

Ok as promised here are the steps I took to get prior Military sea time counted towards a merchant mariner license. This is a very basic outline that revolves around these three steps:

  1. Getting a Transcript of Sea Service
  2. Submitting it to the National Maritime center (NMC)
  3. Providing follow up documentation

This guide is based on being a veteran. It may work for active duty, it just depends on where your records are held.

Step 1:
FOR COAST GUARD veterans and active duty just follow the instructions on this page.

http://www.uscg.mil/ppc/ses/toss.asp

For Navy, Marine Corps, Army, and Airforce: contact the record holder for your branch of service: their numbers/links can be found here

http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/locations/.

Follow the links to your record holder until you find a phone number. Most of them have it right on their main page. Call them during business hours and tell them you need a Transcript of Sea Service. They will probably ask you to just fax in a request for it. Here is the request form

http://www.archives.gov/research/order/standard-form-180.pdf

For the Navy I was able to jus put all this stuff on a blank sheet of paper but find out from them. And here is the link to the Navy site

For Navy:
http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/Pages/default.aspx

And the Navy phone number is on the top right of the page

Make sure you get the correct fax number for them. Each branch is different. I actually lost the one for navy but it’s probably best you verify yourself unless you prefer to blindly fax all your personal data to some stranger.

The most important things to fill in on your request form:

Name, social, what sea going commands you were stationed on, and your duties (watch stations, billets) at each command and the dates that you held them. Also on the form section II part one check Other and write “Transcript of Sea Service”. On part two check Other and write “for Merchant Mariner License”. Finally sign, date it, and put your address. The representative on the phone should tell you to write all of the above and possibly more so check with them. The Lady at Navy Personnel command was very helpful.

It will take them about a month from when you fax them to actually get it to you in the mail. However times vary.

Your transcript should have a break-down of the dates you were at each ship and total number of months you held each billet. Most importantly this will give you an official count of sea time. Now by policy the NMC will only give you credit for %60 of whatever sea time is on that transcript. I’m not going to go into detail on how to get more because I don’t really know how but I do know it’s not easy…

Ok step 2

Now you should have a pretty firm count of your sea time. You need to plan your application accordingly based on the number of days you have, and in what capacity in order to chose the best rating you can get for yourself. Use the search function on this forum and READ the marine safety manual

http://www.uscg.mil/directives/cim/16000-16999/CIM_16000_8B.pdf

Specifically chapters: 2 for all military, 10 for deck licenses, and 12 for engineering licenses.

Also USE THE SEARCH function of this site. (I can’t stress this enough)

Now that you have a plan, submit you Application including your Transcript of sea service to the National Maritime Center. Take note I’m skipping a lot of other steps in the application process, google is your friend, also go here
http://www.uscg.mil/nmc/credentials/default.asp

Step 3: About a month later they will either approve everything or ask for more info… See below.

For officers: send them copies of your FITREPS that cover your time on each ship. DO NOT send them any FITREPS covering shore duties… Just trust me

For Enlisted: send them copies of your evals the same as above. Also copies of your Page 4 wouldn’t hurt if you have them.

I was a submarine officer, I did the above and it worked for me.

Also any qualification letters would be helpful. And any letters from your CO might be accepted, although it does say in the Marine Safety Manual that they are not. But no matter what YOU MUST start with a Transcript of Sea Service. They state multiple times in the Marine Safety Manual and the CFRs that you need this.

Hopefully this helps, and hopefully you found this thread from using the search function. I will post my specific Navy experience and how I used that to get my engineering license later in this thread. There are lots of different scenarios and I welcome all to post their stories.

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If you’re on active duty you should just need a statement from your command (on command letterhead) stating your number of days of sea duty, type of vessel, and tonnage (presumably propulsion too if you are looking for an engineering license). If you’re on active duty and are even thinking about using your sea time I’d highly recommend getting a letter from your command before you separate. Much easier than trying to document after you get out.

A quote from Mr. Cavo in another thread WRT military shipboard time/sea time:
“It’s actually 70%. The reg says 60% is considered to be underway. The remaining 40% still counts, but its discounted at 1 day credit for 4 days service, for a net of 70% of the total.”

I was going to disagree about the letters but then I found this

http://www.uscg.mil/nmc/professional_qualifications/pdfs/crediting_military_ss.pdf

“b) Shipboard generated letters may only be used to document service for the currently assigned vessel, it cannot provide past sea service and vessel information.”

There is also a lot of other good info in that link.

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"For officers: send them copies of your FITREPS that cover your time on each ship. DO NOT send them any FITREPS covering shore duties… Just trust me

For Enlisted: send them copies of your evals the same as above. Also copies of your Page 4…" Although you stated the steps above worked towards getting your Sea Time evaluated, I would highly discourage any military personnel sending Fitreps, Officer or Enlisted performance evaluations to NMC. Consider this hypothetical: 8 years of consecutive afloat officer tours produces one report per year times 4 pages. So I am not sending 32 pages of reports to demonstrate to NMC that I was serving afloat. For Deck Officer sea-time evals-- keep it simple: Only Transcript of Sea Service (TOSS) and corresponding DWO qualification letter per each platform. A military Transcript of Sea Service only reveals so much… in other words, I can have been assigned to an unlimited tonnage asset (Which are few in the CG) for 3 years, but I cannot claim the 60 or 70% rated officer time for the entire period–only my qualified time. Depending on prior experience at sea or prior experience on a particular vessel, some sailors take a month to get qualified, others up to one year. 11 months is a huge difference. The Deck Watch Officer letter is signed by the Commanding Officer with the specific date used by NMC to determine the scope of your responsibilities and time you actually served in a qualified capacity. Skip sending anything else. I applaud you posting the steps that equaled success for you, and starting a thread to help military folks document their time. Great idea! To add onto the conversation and encourage others, I will add a few lessons learned (Hopefully this also sheds some light for Merchants that may think NMC requirements are less of an administrative burden to Active/Retired military) As I was trying to get qualified for certain tonnage on which I KNEW I had sailed, my initial request for the raise-in-grade I sought was denied. They rejected the package and cited the T.O.S.S. lacked an accompanying DWO letter for a particular vessel for which I commanded. I thought since the T.O.S.S. stated the rank held while serving they would know only one person holds that rank–and that is the CO. I called them up quite disillusioned and said I do not have a DWO letter for this platform, but I am actually the one individual that signs them for others. Their answer: Have the Sector CO/OCMI/COPT sign a letter attesting that you were the CO of the vessel. At this point you want to throw in the towel all together, but then you have to just realize that your evaluator probably does not have, or maybe never will have one day of sea-time. At the end of the day (And eight years of working with REC/NMC) I have come to the conclusion that the NMC is in fact more prone to scrutinize your military sea-time and are relentless in ensuring they are above reproach for audits or the perception of looking like they do us military members favors. I urge all military members seeking credentials to plan ahead, be ready for potential “push-back” and present clearly documented applications. For those currently afloat, It would not hurt as well, if you are looking to differentiate your Inland/Near Coastal/Oceans time by noting the smooth logs and presenting a Microsoft/Excel tracking sheet to be signed by the CO (Vetted thru your chain) prior to your departure. Last year, I spent a month gathering sea-time location data from two separate Buoy Tenders of which I previously served in order to illustrate that I had 70 or 90 (I forget now) days of Inland Sea Time. The NMC wanted me to prove I was actually working buoys in Inland waters for a mere three months of the 48 months served. (Of course most buoyage is shoreward of Demarcation lines) That pill was just as hard to swallow as having to “prove” that I was in charge of a vessel. Be prepared for your future applications; clearly document YOUR sea-time & the location of where you are earning it. All the best. 1JV

[QUOTE=exsubguy;115810]I was going to disagree about the letters but then I found this

http://www.uscg.mil/nmc/professional_qualifications/pdfs/crediting_military_ss.pdf

“b) Shipboard generated letters may only be used to document service for the currently assigned vessel, it cannot provide past sea service and vessel information.”

There is also a lot of other good info in that link.[/QUOTE]

Good to know. I had my last command write a letter documenting all my sea time, and it was all accepted. I guess I just got the luck of the draw when whoever looked at it gave me credit for all of it… I always assumed they only gave me 60%, but that was all I needed anyway for the upgrade.

I still have the letter in my files, it was signed by my XO who later went on to become a disgraced congressman. :slight_smile:

[QUOTE=captobie;115799]If you’re on active duty you should just need a statement from your command (on command letterhead) stating your number of days of sea duty, type of vessel, and tonnage (presumably propulsion too if you are looking for an engineering license). If you’re on active duty and are even thinking about using your sea time I’d highly recommend getting a letter from your command before you separate. Much easier than trying to document after you get out.[/QUOTE]

You really should get the Transcript of Creditable Sea Service. It is the official record of your military sea service. Other options can be acceptable, but the Transcript is the gold standard of documenting military sea service.

TOSS is necessay but having a letter from the command helps a lot. I got a letter from my CO explaining everything about the ship, routes we sailed and my specific duties onboard.

If you include ALL evals/fitreps, and any other piece of paper in your service record, including PQS books, qualification letters, schools, awards, etc…(evals are the most important) you really don’t need the letter from the command. Inundate the NMC with paperwork and you will get more than 60%. I’m not sure exactly how much I received but by my estimation I got somewhere between 75% & 85%.

It will take a little longer to evaluate but well worth the wait in my opinion.

This.

I kept a copy of my records on microfiche. I used those to get my approved to test letter. My navy sea service letter took three months to arrive. For some it takes longer.

I want to thank you for this info, for the most part it was very helpful.
I have been trying to get the Navy to give me a copy of my Transcript Of Sea Service, (TOSS), since March 2020. That was the beginning of Covid. I was released from service before 92-93, my records are kept in the National Archives at the National Personnel Records Center, (NPRC). They are not entertaining any requests for TOSS right now because of Covid staffing issues. Are they the only folks I can get a TOSS from at this point? What if they say they don’t have one for me? How can I obtain one? I have 1 year, 7 months, and 22 days Sea Service as listed on my DD-214. It would be a shame to lose that time. Anyone got any ideas? Thanks for your time.

They have the ability to generate one for you once they get the staff. You will not lose any time.

See section 3511(c)(3) of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020 (page 782 of the pdf):

(c) The Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Department in which the Coast Guard is operating when it is not operating as a service in the Department of the Navy, and the Secretary of Commerce, with respect to the applicable services in their respective departments, shall—

(3)ensure that members of the applicable services who are to be discharged or released from active duty and who request certification or verification of sea service be provided such certification or verification no later than one month after discharge or release

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Wow. Thank you for that. Good to know.

I am pretty sure that was also in something a bit older, but the NDAA of 2020 is all I can find right now.