Renewal Procedure for Officers Needing the Comprehensive Renewal Exam

I’m in the process of renewing my 3A/E License and need some help…

There is a lot of information on the NMC website concerning renewal if you have the required sea time. Unfortunately, those of us who don’t meet that requirement seem to get left out. I’m aware that the Comprehensive Renewal Exam is necessary, that it’s open book and that it has it’s own little section in the CFRs . That seems to be the extent of the information out there.

Are there separate exams for the license/MMC and the STCW certification?

Searching the forums, there’s a post stating that the Coast Guard would mail you the exam, you complete it in a timely fashion, and then mail it back to them. Is this correct information? On the Renewal Application, no place exists to request the exam.

I’d greatly appreciate hearing from anyone else who has gone through a similar process.


If the only thing you lack is sea time, they will mail you the exams. There is no exam for STCW, and there are two for licenses, one for rules, and one for everything else (except navigation problems).

Thank you for your reply, Mr. Cavo. It is much appreciated.

Having an unrestricted Third Assistant Engineer (Steam, Motor, and Gas Turbine), I am under the impression that I will have to complete an exam for each propulsion system. Is this assumption correct?

Regarding the STCW credential, are the avenues for renewal limited to sea time or refresher training?


There is an exam for each mode. Currently, to renew STCW you only have to be current on BST, either by recent sea service or refresher training (or re-taking original courses)…

There is three sections for engineers … Steam, Diesel and Safety.

Now, to hijack this thread a little … Mr. Cavo, I could sure use some of your expertise here. I am in disagreement with the NMC over what credentials I can get while I am currently upgrading my 3A/E to 2A/E. All my time is on tugboats (about 150 tons, 2500HP) and my evaluator does not disagree that I have enough time to upgrade to 2A/E, However … I also asked for Chief(Ltd), 4000HP and DDE AHP based on the information in the Marine Safety Manual which says that I get credit for three years service and two years as QMED for my Academy time.

I have been told that I need more time for the DDE AHP based on the CFR 11.524 which says you need 1080 days total and 540 as QMED or equivalent. This doesn’t make sense to me as it does not account for the fact that I currently hold an unlimited license and am a maritime academy graduate. I was told to ignore the Marine Safety Manual, that it is obsolete and to just go by the CFRs but that just doesn’t make any sense either.

Am I totally off base or am I just missing the magic words to use?


Hi StevenT,
You should read what I am going through right now. I had no sea time since academy days. I retested and passed. Now you can see that I have a license that says “Domestic Only” and the rest is unfolding right now. 85TJ

Again, Many thanks to Mr. Cavo. That is exactly what I needed to know.