Propulsion notation on Deck Licenses

Split from another thread. Why do (or did) Deck Licenses have Steam and Motor notations?

I didn’t realize mate/master tickets had propulsion modes… What’s the difference from the wheelhouse prospective?

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none whatsoever and it is something very archaic I believe…a license left over when there still was sail out there perhaps?

JD Cavo might be able to shed light on this

No idea. I suspect it was to distinguish from sail. It was changed to “self-propelled” in 2014, in part to remove any question of validity on a gas turbine vessel. But that also had problems as the definition of “self-propelled” in 46 CFR 10.107 includes sail. So the current wording of the endorsements includes (except sail).

This is correct. It was just to differentiate between sail and steam/motor. But does your license still say master of steam and motor? The new licenses now say only master of self-propelled vessels.

And as I found out, forget about trying to get NMC to issue a pure master of sail anymore. They interpret all sail vessels as auxiliary sail and consider auxiliary sail a superior endorsement over sail alone. Of corse, this is nonsense. Most people realize that having both modes of propulsion gives you options you don’t have under sail alone. Much easier to dock, for example.

who the hell knows? I have always loathed the fucking miserable Mao’s little red book and waste no time ever even looking at it. I suspect it is here somewhere for me to check

Haha. But if, as JD says, the change in wording was made in 2014, maybe you should take a peek just to make sure the expiration date hasn’t come and gone.

Best discussed in another thread but the operational and maneuvering aspects (or limitations) of steam and motor ships are quite different. Most notably operating at slow speeds the comparison is apples to oranges.

My original certificate just said Master of a Foreign Going Ship. Our tickets never specified tonnage and all foreign going tickets for all grades are for all tonnages and the term ship did not mean the original meaning of a ship but a vessel propelled by machinery.
My grandfather’s ticket was on parchment rather than a book and had exactly the same wording as mine together with a purple stamp endorsing him as master of a steam ship as he had first obtained his masters ticket under sail.
Under STCW I was just a number and said ticket is buried some where and now expired.
The Union Steamship Company traded the barque Pamir between New Zealand and the West Coast of the US during WW II and they still had sufficient officers with square rig experience.

Likewise. My Master’s Certificate, issued in Norway 20.05.1970 only state that I’m qualified to be Master of ships in accordance with Norwegian Law. Nothing said about tonnage or other limitation and no expiry date.

A translation issued by the Norwegian Embassy in Singapore 10.09.1970 does state; “which entitles him to command vessels of any size in all waters”.

It would appear that the origination of licenses in the US date back to 1852 when Congress passed the Steamboat Act of May 30, 1852 which places the Steamboat Inspection Service under control of the Treasury Department. Local marine inspectors reported to nine regional supervisory inspectors, but each region used its own standards. The Act also authorized the issuance of licenses to engineers and pilots of steamboats carrying passengers. Here is an example. And this answers the question of why U.S. officers’ licenses called out steam explicitly.


Here is another example from 1918. It is uncanny how similar it looked to the modern licenses that were issued in the US up through 2009 when they were replaced by the passport style MMC. This license is Master of Steam Vessels and nothing more.

"…entitled “An Act to amend an Act entitled 'an Act to…”

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Unless there are license questions that are particular to Steam and Motor (or for that matter Gas Turbine) there isn’t much reason for that notation. I can understand self-propelled and sail (or auxiliary sail) notations.

My guess is, that with the first licenses only issued by the Steamboat Inspection Service, there was never a question that they were only issued for officers aboard steam vessels. It merged with the Bureau of Navigation in 1932 to form the Bureau of Navigation and Steamboat Inspection which, in 1936, was reorganized into the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation, which in turn came under the control of the United States Coast Guard in 1942 and was abolished, with its functions transferred to the Coast Guard, in 1946. It wasn’t until 1940 that Congress amends the Motor Boat Act of 1910 to establish safety requirements for mechanically-propelled vessels under 65 feet. The law also authorized the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation to issue licenses to operators of mechanically-propelled vessels that carry passengers for hire. So perhaps at this point, they changed “steam” to “steam and motor.”

But I guess I was wrong about the notation being there to differentiate between sail and other self-propelled vessels. I’m not sure when it became necessary to be licensed as a Master of Sailing Vessels (when carrying passengers), but it would seem after both steam and motor.

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A question for our international friends: do or did any other countries have a license for Master of Sail or Auxiliary Sail Vessels?

Australia did have separate certificates for square rigged sail and fore and aft sail but they are now just endorsements to the higher levels of master (masters up to 80 metres are deemed not to need specific sail endorsements but need to be ‘appropriately’ trained and experienced to meet their employer’s SMS).

We have just transitioned to a national system rather than the previous state based system for non foreign going certificates and when the feds take over such things promising sweetness and light and endless advantages from their new streamlined, user pays system run by all-seeing, all knowing bureaucrats in our landlocked capital (at least it has a decorative, artificial lake) the results can be accurately forecast. Glowing reports and updates emanate regularly from the HQ, staffing grows to write further such reports and add dazzling graphics … and certificates are harder to get revalidated, more expensive and you end up with a credit card sized document that looks like any other ID with no room for endorsements. Ask me in a decade if it’s working properly yet.

You don’t have to look very far mate. Just across the ditch we have a marine department run by a bureaucrat who was once a real estate salesman.

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