Seatime Letters / Certificates of Discharge

Ok, quick show of hands from guys in the oilfield, another thread about NMC got sidetracked to the subject of bias against limited tonnage guys and now I’m curious if seatime certificates might possibly have something to do with it. What do you guys use where you work for showing seatime when you submit applications to NMC?

  • We use the USCG Certificate of Discharge (CG-718A)
  • We use a company created Certificate of Discharge
  • We don’t do Certificates of Discharge, just Seatime Letters

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Some of you guys are actually using the right form? If you’re comfortable saying so, what companies are using the USCG certificate of discharge? I was actually expecting a lot of “wait, there’s a form we’re supposed to be using?” from this post.

CG-718A is not required. I use a letter I generated that somebody else used and is modeled after the letter on the NMC website and had my Chief Engineer sign it, I was the Master. Getting it through the office would have taken longer than getting a renewal through NMC.

Right, but I was pondering if maybe the 718A’s might speed up the process at NMC. Never have understood how, (and don’t say it doesn’t happen because a search on here will pop up many cases) some companies in the patch can hold seatime letters hostage, and why they aren’t just having the captains do the discharge slips like in blue water operations.

Never had a problem getting seatime letters. Maybe because it is because I am a former blue suiter. I routinely write seatime letters for my crew when I am riding as Master. I only write for the boat I am on but my crew takes care of me so I take care of them, even if it hurts.

Additionally, the oilfield is its own little niche in the industry and in some ways good and in others bad. Personally, I feel an OSV license should never be allowed out of the Gulf of Mexico. However, certain lobbyists got that restriction removed years ago because it was ham stringing them in Brazil and Africa as they also got “Unlimited masters” license for certain people assigned to company vessels approved instead of having to pay fair market price.

The only way these issues will be resolved is if we start responding to requests for input from the USCG in the Federal Register and become members of safety Advisory Committees in DC like the Merchant Mariner Personnel Advisory Committee (MERPAC, look it up) that are now filled by industry senioe management members


You are perfectly welcome to attend any MERPAC meeting, make a statement or ask a question, and join the working group that is dealing with the issue you are interested in. You can contribute your own ideas and negotiate what language forms the committee’s recommendation. Unless your ideas or comments are really whacko they will be considered just a much as any presented by those “senior managment” folks you have a problem with.


Ok, I’m thinking there’s a bit of confusion… NOT Load/Discharge letters for Tankerman endorsements… Discharge of Seamen Certificates at the end of a hitch. The ones that under 46 CFR 14.307 (and 46 USC 10311) the Master must complete “for each Merchant Mariner being discharged from the vessel.”

Like this (for us old farts):

Or this for the latest incarnation:

It’s time to phase out the restricted trade OSV licenses. The USCG should stop issuing new OSV licenses, and only allow OSV license renewals for one more year. This would phase out OSV licenses within six years.

There is an overabundance of fully and properly qualified mariners available. OSV companies now pay competitive wages that attract fully qualified mariners.

OSVs have become too large and too complex in an environmentally sensitive industry with too many risks where a single screw up can result in an industry wide moratorium on offshore drilling. It no longer makes any sense to allow OSVs to continue to be staffed with mariners who hold restricted “dumbed down” credentials that do not meet STCW standards.

Most present day OSV mariners can easily pass the exams to become properly certified with unlimited licenses.


In this day of computers and instant communications, sailors should be signed on, and signed off, vessels electronically linked to a secure USCG website that makes an instant and permenant record of the sailor’s sea service at the USCG. No more unverifiable (and too often outright fraudulent) company letters that can sometimes be difficult for a sailor to obtain, or paper Discharge forms to fill out and send to the company, hoping the company will send them in the mail. Time to move into the 21st Century.


You can submit discharges to the NMC via email from the vessel now.


I can’t find any reason why it isn’t required on OSVs, they just don’t do them and the USCG doesn’t care.

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OK, thanks. As soon as I can afford it, I will. I appreciate the invitation. Now I know about Maritime Commons I will know when you are meeting Sir.

Almost 40 years in and out of the industryand that is the first time I have seen that coupon. I have yet to see a discharge book domestically but I used to sign them for every Trinbagonian aboard when I was working in Trinidad and Tobago.

From what I have read, the IMO is planning on having STCW endorsements for every type of vessel out there in the next 10 years and you WILL NOT be able to work on a vessel without the proper STCW endorsement from a school for that type of vessel AND the STCW endorsement for certain areas because practical knowledge can not be measured or insured.

Glad I’m not the only one that can’t find an exemption for OCS activities… The only thing I can possibly think of, is that the mentality is still at the converted shrimp boats stage of OSV’s and nobody has gone, “wait… are we/they supposed to do these?”

I had a stack of them when I submitted to test for 2nd Mate long ago. Every voyage sign-off, another “coupon,” and we were under MSC contract, sooooo lots of foreign voyages during a hitch, and new articles and discharges for them all. We had a few old timers that still had US issued continuous discharge books too, those were just as fun to deal with as the ones for the foreign crews these days.

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Just so you know Steamer, I checked with 30 mariners. 15 from the GOM, 5 from the West Coast,and 10 from the East Coast. NONE of them had heard of MERPAC. Some were bluewater, some were tugz and some were oilfield. I also looked at the members with Linkedin and other “sources”. MOST are in the office as managers. I think I know who you are now and you were not what I consider a manager.

I knew about MERPAC and other committees for years and tried to get on them but never got so much as a response one way or another for the past 8 years even though I filled out and submitted the proper papaerwork. If you want to have further discussions online in private, cool. Personally I would rather talk on the phone, let me know.

If you or any other member of the committee did not like my comments, I apologize. I do investigation as best as I can and call it as I see it. I was an E-8 in the military (USCG, smash me if you feel necessary, I am a big boy.) I call them as I see them. - Senior

Fighting hypocrisy and lack of understanding at NMC and CGHQ are my hobby when I am off the boat along with assisting Mariners. The latter was one of my duties while in the Coast Guard and I continue to carry out this part of my old job.

Additionally there are many still in the USCG who are more than happy to assist me anonymously with some of these issues Others, unlike you jbtam, lump all Coasties together, Remember, most men and women who joined the Coast Guard had potentially saving OUR lives in the worst weather as one of their top two reasons for volunteering. Remember that when you are bashing us,

I think they should stop giving (no test required) the chief limited license to academy kids when upgrading from 3rd to 2nd on sea time alone. I had to study and take that test years ago I think it’s only fair they do to. If they want to keep doing that then they should give a chief limited with one year of sea time a 1st motor with no test required.

I don’t know much about engineering licenses, but I think they should probably phase out Chief Limited. I can see having the DDE licenses for small vessels, and I don’t see anything wrong with a 3rd AE sailing as Chief on a tug, but the large OSVs are complex small ships and should require Unlimited licenses.

I was shocked to hear that you cannot use your time as Chief on OSVs over 4000hp to get Chief Unlimited.

I don’t see anything magic about requiring 4000 hp either. A tug with one EMD 20-645 is 3600hp. A similar tug with two EMD 20-645s is 7200hp. There is not a dime’s worth of difference in the value of the sea experience for an engineer sailing on a tug one EMD or two. If anything, more skill is required to be the Chief on a single screw tug because continuing the voyage without one engine running is not an option.

Through all my early sea time under US flag I only saw and received the multi-part, carbon paper type “certificates of discharge” you show under old fart. I got a book filled with them from cadet to chief. [ Side note look at the signature line and it says United States Shipping Commissioner OR Master. I have one of these (from 1974) signed by an actual shipping commissioner getting off a American Export Lines ship in Brooklyn. He attended the vessel in port and you lined up in front of him as with customs, etc. Don’t know if this was for foreign voyages only though. ]

Never had a continuous discharge book while under US flag but under various other flags where my license is “endorsed” by another flag state I have always been required to have their “seaman’s book”. All sign on’s and sign off’s are recorded in there and handed to me at the end of the voyage. Signed and stamped by captain. Come renewal time you just photo copy the applicable pages and submit that as your sea time. Adopting a belt and suspenders approach I also attach a letter from the company stating Joe Blow has been employed as a WWW and served XXX days at sea under such and such watch system during the period YYY to ZZZ. Never had any problems with review of same. By “just as fun to deal with” do you mean they created problems by filling them in? Looks a whole lot eaier to me than certificates, forms or sea time letters to me.

If you are getting off a ship without a discharge or an entry in your seaman’s book whose fault is that? The NMC’s? If your company has heartburn or competency issues putting out timely or accurate “sea time letters” again, can the NMC do anything about that?

If review of an individuals claimed sea time raises issues of authenticity when being reviewed due to poorly crafted sea time letters does anyone at NMC follow up with the operating company in question to issue them a letter to “do better next time”?

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