Old Licenses & Changes through the years

I was cleaning out my filing cabinet and found a file with my old expired licenses. Wow, I forgot how I got to Master from an ordinary seaman on ocean tugs in Alaska & the West Coast.
Anyone else still have their old licenses & Z cards?
I worked tugs the whole time & every time I went in to renew they would issue a different license. The examiner would say you need this upgrade or license. I had to take an exam for the Freight & towing & 1600 ton plus celestial for oceans.

Operator of small passenger vessels not more than 100 tons and not more than 100 miles offshore upon waters of the Gulf of Alaska between Chignik, Ak. and Icy Cape Ak. (really? weird!)

Operator of Uninspected Towing Vessels upon Oceans not more than 200 miles offshore.

Master of Freight & Towing Vessels not more than 1000 GT upon oceans 200 miles, Radar Observer UNL.

Master Near Coastal Steam or MVs not more than 1600 GT Radar Ob Unl.

Master 1600 GT Steam or MVs upon Oceans (yea!)

(Issue #5) Master 1600GT Oceans, 3000 ITC

Master 1600 Oceans Document of Continuity (finally retired!!!) Strange looking License.

Anyone else have some of these Licenses form the old days?


Yeah, got a couple laying around someplace. There is a photo of some kid on the Z card.


My first Z card I was 15 yo and I had bad acne. The description of my complexion said “ruddy”.

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I’ve got a “D2” Z-card (original stolen, D1 lost) from about 1985 and my last license and “MMD” from just before the MMC book. The old z-card has the word “VOID” punched out. All my old licenses were kept by the RECs (New York and Boston) when I upgraded or renewed.

I’m not sure any exams were needed to go from Master Freight & Towing 1,000 Gross Tons to Master 1,600, unless you did it before about 1985. Around then they eliminated the freight and towing license, and mine was renewed as Master 1,600.

NYC REC handed me a folder with all my old licenses I had turned in over the years. Not sure how long ago that was but probably 3rd or 4th chiefs renewal. Definitely before the red book. Nice to flip through them now and then. Someday one of them will hang in the garage next to my grandfathers NJ black seal stationary engineers license.

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I have all my old licenses from the beginning. Saved my rear end when trying to upgrade last year. 25 years on limited tonnage vessels, now sailing unlimited. I applied for my 2nd mates, and the NMC said I didn’t have my 3rds for a 5 year period and rejected the letter of sea time. (It would be difficult, if not impossible, to get a new letter now.) I scanned ALL of my old licenses and sent that in to prove my case. They had to eat crow, and approve me to test. Keep everything!

I never had to surrender my old or expired licenses. Both the Seattle & Anchorage RECs just stamped “CANCELLED” on them and with an authorized signature handed them back to me.