Please help with upgrade to 3rd mate unlimited


I currently hold a 1600 ton master/oceans/towing. I have been reviewing the USCG checklist and it seems abit confusing to me. I’d love to upgrade to a 3rd mate unlimited without testing. When I went to MPT for training I know the terrestrial upgrade class that I took was for 3rd mates/1600t master but the CG test was a masters exam. Very confusing stuff since a 1600t Mate doesn’t have to retake an exam to upgrade. I have about 180 days of tonnage over 500t but less than 1600t. I am towing a 700’ + barge that I believe I can use towards tonnage? I have a ton of seatime on vessels less than 200t. Well if anyone could give me a little advice I’d really appreciate it.


It’s not exactly clear what you are asking, particularly about STCW and the exams.

As far as the checklists go, there are no specific provisions for upgrading from any other license. All 3rd Mate applications have to be evaluated as originals. You can use sea time that you used for previous endorsements (you would still need to meet the “recency” requirements in 46 CFR 11.201(c )(2).

You can use the aggregate tonnage of a tug/tow for up to half of the required service on vessels over 100 GRT, see 46 CFR 11.211(e). The time will be credited at 1 day of service credit for each 2 days served.

If you have at least 3 years on vessels over 100 GRT, you can get 3rd Mate even if half of the time was not on vessels over 1,600 GRT. You would get a tonnage limit of between 2,000 GRT and 10,000 GRT depending on the tonnage of the service you used, see 46 CFR 11.402(b).


I do not believe there is a way to go from 1600 Master to 3/M unlimited without testing. You would have to take all of the exams for original 3M. As far as tonnage, you would most likely be given a 3M w/tonnage restriction.


Your best bet is to hire a USCG license consultant to help you prepare your application and herd it through the USCG review process. Search gcaptain or google to find them. Be prepared for a long process.

There is no route from Master 1600 to 3rd Mate, but there is a long roundabout route to 2nd Mate.

First, apply for Master Inland Any Gross Tons. Then rake the exam and get the license. You’ll probably, get a tonnage restriction somewhere between 2000 GRT and 10,000 GRT. YMMV. Then, as a licensed Master Inland, you can apply for 2nd Mate. Again, you probably get a tonnage limit on the 2nd Mate. Get approved and take the test. You must take the exams.

Apparently, the USCG has approved some people for Master Inland and 2nd Mate on the same application, but has refused to do so for others. YMMV.

If you want the STCW OICNW II/1 to go with your 2nd Mate (it’s not much good without STCW ), then you’ll also have to take a bunch of STCW courses. That will be very expensive.

To remove the tonnage limits on your Master Inland and 2nd Mate, you’ll need to get some seatime on a self-propelled vessel over 1600 GRT.

Good luck, you’re going to need It.