OS, Ab to mate?

Prior coastie with 8years in about 4years seatime. I was an operation specialist so i know alittle plotting, mo boards, radars. etc… Trying to research online i get confused about the merchant mariners ratings. My question is do i have to go for ordinary seaman training or can i go to mitags or mama and take the AB course. And if someone could point me the right direction of OS training course along the east coast maryland va nc…bottomline do i have to start at ordinary seaman to get a job or with my prev seatime could i just go to school for the classes not trying to skip steps i worked from the bottom up before.

First, there is no OS course. That’s an entry level rating with no experience or training requirements. Are you asking about STCW “Basic Training” that almost everyone onboard a commercial ship operating offshore or internationally needs? That’s different. Whether or not you need it, and whether or not you will be expected to have it before getting hired will depend on your career plans.

As far as the AB course, that’s a course that substitutes for the Coast Guard exam for able seaman. It has a time limit of one year. So I would recommend that you first apply for Able Seaman endorsement, and if your Coast Guard service is found sufficient, you will be approved to take the Coast Guard exam. Then you can go take the course, or decide if you’d rather take the Coast Guard exam. And before you can be approved for the exam, you will need to also qualify as a Lifeboatman, that will require a course. But I also suggest applying first. The National Maritime Center will identify everything you lack for the endorsement, that will include the lifeboatman course, but if it includes sea service as well, you might want to reconsider t=when you take the lifeboatman course. You may not need it right away.

As far as getting a job as Able Seaman, that may also involve more STCW stuff depending on your plans. If it’s on a vessel that needs to meet STCW, you’ll almost certainly need STCW endorsements as “Rating Forming Part of a Navigational Watch” (RFPNW) and probably “Able Seafarer-Deck.” These have sea time requirements. They do not have training requirements, but they do have an assessment requirement that is analogous to a military PQS. For RFPNW, if you have Coast Guard qualification (PQS) as Helmsman and Lookout, you will be good for the assessments for RFPNW.

Here’s some Coast Guard “NVICs” taht woill give you more infortmation on the STCW stuff I mentioned:

NVIC 4-14 (Lifeboatman/Proficiency in Survival Craft)
NVIC 8-14 (Basic Training)
NVIC 14-14 (AS-D)


If you are looking to eventually becoming a Mate, I would HIGHLY recommend that you check out the apprenticeship programs at MITAGS. You can get a license in 2 years, get lots of hands-on practical time on-board AND it’s VA approved!!

We have 2-3 students in the apprenticeship program each year that are retired Army, Navy or Coast Guard.

Feel Free to PM me if you have questions

Cavo’s advice is spot on and reminds of me of my own career.

I did my coast guard time as a Boatswains mate. I had enough seatime to sit for my Able Seaman. Once I got that, I found it much easier to get callbacks for jobs.

I would suggest you start there and see if you like it. Before you make a big committment in time and money for training.

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Silvrbk and Cavo are giving you good advice. They’ve been there, done that.

Is you’re in va there are two schools one in Norfolk mid Atlantic maritime and one in Gloucester CMTI

There are plenty of east coast tugs that don’t require stcw . Lots of companies in Norfolk alone

My most awesome nephew is a coastie with similar I think experience .Engineer type guy , still employed Chief USCG and doing quite well.and has valuable skills in this small market. Don’t sell yourself short , seek every opportunity available regarding your service.

Thank you for the informational links, i just looking to see whats the best options to get to work back out at sea. Id like to do this as a career but i thinknid rather put my foot in the door and see if this is the life for me i loved being at sea but it could be differant now.

Yes, i believe thats the route i to go see if i like it before making a commitment like training

Ook i will try searching for a few tugs jobs…im in maryland but can relocate to va if needed

Most people don’t live where they work, my wife is cg we live in cape May and I work out of philly