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.

Why not? As long as you at one point held a 500 or 1,600 ton mate and tested after February 2002 it doesn’t matter what license you currently hold.

Yes there is. Sail as master for 360 days on vessels over 200 GRT while holding a license as 1,600 ton master.

Your ticketing system in the US is hilarious. Has there ever been a campaign to simplify it and make it like the rest of the world?


100 GRT? The minimum tonnage changed in 2014.

Not for that.

Right, I forgot that, it’s rarely used. But, unless you have some unlicensed time on vessels over 1,600 GRT, you’re going to get a tonnage limit, probably 2,000 or 3,000 GRT.

True, but it is still “a route from 1,600 ton master to 3rd mate Unlimited”. I don’t know who could need that though as by the time you have a 1,600 ton master you almost definitely have 1,080 days over 100 GRT but it’s there.

Last I knew, the crossover was from Master 1600 ton to Master Inland to 2nd Mate.

I hadn’t heard about a crossover to 3rd Mate.

It’s been there for at least 15 years or more. Serve as master on a vessel greater than 200 GRT for 360 days while holding a license as Master 1,600 GRT. As I pointed out above it’s pointless today because most people who have that sea time would already have the 1,080 days over 100 GRT for 3rd unlimited. (Under the old rules one could get master 1,600 exclusively with time under the 200 GRT minimum for 3rd unlimited then you’d just have to secure a master position position on a vessel greater than 200 GRT.)

That takes more work but it’s a superior route to take. You can do that just by holding a master 1,600, without having to actually work as master, and get a superior license out of it as well.

See 46 CFR 11.407(c ).

The US licensing system has been simplified several times. It was a lot more complicated 40 years ago.

The system remains overly complicated with too many unnecessary special trade restricted licenses.

The USCG’s fetish for tonnage restrictions is perverted and without any benefit. It needs to be greatly simplified. It bears little relationship to the actual size of vessels or the skills required to operate them.

When many ships are around 100,000 tons or more, how is seatime on a 1600 ton vessel any better than on a 1599 ton vessel toward an unlimited license?

A big USCG mistake is matching the tonnage required for licensing with the “rulebeater”tonnage for vessel inspection.

This has the effect of trapping mariners at the rulebeater inspection tonnage levels of 100, 200, 500 or 1600.

If those are going to be the rulebeater regulatory tonnages for inspection, the licensing tonnages should be 200, 400, 1000, and 3200, so that Mariners can acquire seatime on vessels in the next higher tonnage category.

It would make the most sense to just follow the STCW regulatory scheme for vessels over 100 GRT using only GT for licensing purposes with just 500 GT, 3000 GT and unlimited licenses.

As far as I can tell, the IMO STCW system credits small vessel seatime toward unlimited licenses. In Canada and the UK seatime on a vessel over 25GT (although it should also be over 25 meters in length) may credited towards an unlimited license. This seems to work in Canada and the UK. What is the US gaining by being more restrictive? Nothing at all!

A license does not guarantee ability or competence. Especially not at the 3rd Mate level regardless of the tonnage. A new unlimited 3rd Mate is just starting out on training wheels. Everyone knows that.

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This seems like a sensible rule that correctly recognizes that time sailing as Master on small vessels is more valuable than time sweeping and mopping, and chipping and painting, on larger vessels. A plain reading of the rule does not suggest any tonnage restriction.

The rule says:

c) While holding a license or MMC endorsement as master of ocean or near-coastal self-propelled vessels of less than 1,600 GRT, 1 year of service as master on vessels of more than 200 GRT operating on ocean or near-coastal waters will qualify the applicant for an endorsement as third mate of ocean or near-coastal self-propelled vessels of unlimited tonnage.

If have a 1600 ton license and sail one year as Master on a vessel over 200 tons, you WILL qualify . . . for UNLIMITED tonnage.

I’m don’t know what the cases interpreting the word “will” say, but will sounds to me just like shall; it’s mandatory. Unlimited is unlimited.

I do not see where this CFR authorizes to USCG to place a tonnage limit on a license as 3rd Mate that is earned under this provision.

Don’t give them any ideas, they’ll just add more higher tonnage limits.

Mariners are only trapped under 1,600 tons. For a 500 ton license half your sea time only has to be over 50 GRT and for a 1,600 ton license half only had to be over 100 GRT. It’s perfectly ready to move up to a 1,600 ton license.

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46 CFR 11.402 still applies.

Tonnage limits aren’t mentioned anywhere in the minimum requirements for any level of unlimited license. Tonnage limits for unlimited licenses are only mentioned in 46 CFR 11.402.

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46 CFR 11.402(b).

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