Obtaining towing liscense?


I’ve been working on a tug boat for almost 5 years. I was wondering what is the fastest way to obtain the liscense I need. Should I go to a school and obtain my steersman apprentice ? Once that’s done I understand I need to hold the apprenticeship for 360 days and complete a TOAR. My question is do I have to be steering for the 360 days to count or can I still be on deck ? Also I’ve only traveled the lower Mississippi within a 20 mile range (fleet work). I know there are schools that offer TOAR courses but since they aren’t within the mile markers I’ve decked does it do me any good to attend the course ? Sorry for any confusion in my wording. I might be wrong in what I’ve heard or read but I’m looking for any help that can be given. Thanks


If you go the Apprentice Mate/Steersman route, you’ll need 12 months after getting that license before you can get Mate. There is a faster way if at least of your deck time was on a vessel over 50 GRT. You can get Mate 500 GRT Inland with a total of 2 years on deck. Of this 2 years, at least one has to have been on vessels over 50 GRT, and at least 3 months of this time over 50 GRT has to have been performing bridge watchkeeping. The bridge watchkeeping part might be a problem, but the time working on the TOAR might be enough. If you go for Mate 500, you can get Mate Towing Western Rivers with 90 days on western rivers and completing the rivers TOAR (Inland takes 30 days and complete the inland TOAR). The time on western rivers doesn’t have to be after getting the Mate 500 license.

You can also get Apprentice Mate/Steersman with 18 months on towing vessels, it wouldn’t be restricted to particular miles, it would be for the entire western rivers. You can then get Mate Towing with 12 more months and complete the TOAR. The Mate also wouldn’t be restricted to certain miles.

You can also go from Apprentice Mate/Steersman to Master to a restricted area with 18 months and completing the TOAR.

If you go for Apprentice Mate, you can take a course instead of taking the exam from the REC. If you go for Mate 500, you have to take the Coast Guard exam.

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