STCW II/2 Master 500-3000. Some say I don't need it but I think I do?

I’m in the process of upgrading to 1600ton Master OC. The STCW II/2 Master 500-3000 will mean taking four more classes so it’s not going to happen right away. I want to do that but would like to just get my captains ticket sooner than later. The ATB I work on now is one of only two in our fleet that has an ITC tonnage over 500. I was told by a couple people that I didn’t need II/2 or Oceans for that boat because we rarely go foreign and when we do it’s only to Canada, the Bahamas, and Gulf coast ports in Mexico. I was under the impression that regardless of whether we sailed foreign or not that if the boat is dual tonnage and is over 500 ITC (it’s 682GT and 195GRT) and it’s SOLAS that I had to have II/2 Master 500-3000 to be compliant. Also, I was also under the impression that I’d have to have oceans if we sailed foreign except to Canada. Am I right about that? I haven’t researched this yet, just basing my assumption from off hand knowledge and research from a while ago.

The boat is a converted ATB, 126 feet, SOLAS, Sub M, 195GRT domestic and 682GT ITC. COI indicates “Route Permitted as Oceans.” COD says Registry (Coastwise was omitted on the last issuance but was there previously.)

Summary of the questions:

  1. Even if we don’t sail foreign do I still need II/2 Master 500-3000 since the boat is dual tonnage and exceed 500 GT ITC?
  2. When we do sail foreign do I need Oceans even though we aren’t exceeding 200nm from shore? (I believe we have a memorandum of understanding with Canada that allows this.)
  3. Do I need Oceans regardless since our COI says oceans or only when we exceed 200nm from shore or as in question 2 when we sail foreign?

I know I should know these things but every time I think I have a handle on it I read something or someone says something that makes me question everything I thought I knew. Thanks for your time, folks.

Your whole ticket system over there puts me in the mind of this. Clear as mud.

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Yeah, I’ve heard that sentiment a few times before and I wholeheartedly agree.

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It’s actually way more classes than that unless you are able to complete all your assessments on board a vessel.

This is what I got from the NVIC for training. I have completed all except the top four. Are there more I’m not seeing?

i) Advanced Ship Handling;
ii) Advanced Stability;
iii) Advanced Meteorology;
iv) Search and Rescue;

v) Leadership and Managerial Skills;
vi) Management of Medical Care;
vii) Electronic Chart Display Information Systems (ECDIS), in order for this endorsement to be valid for service on vessels equipped with this equipment;
viii) Automatic Radar Plotting Aids (ARPA), in order to serve on a vessel with this equipment; and
ix) Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), in order to serve on a vessel with this equipment.

That’s right, but there is also a whole bunch of assessments that need to be completed and signed off, I believe if you can’t satisfy getting them signed off on board a vessel then there’s more classes you have to take in order to get them signed off via training.

Courses aren’t substituting for assessments. The courses have assessments embedded in them and the student gets credit for any assessments that are part of the course. The assessments that may not be possible to do onboard are generally in the courses Skylarker has yet to take, most notably Advanced Shiphandling. As far as I know (I’m no longer directly involved in course approvals) all Advanced Shiphandling courses include the relevant assessments.

In addition, many schools have approved “Qualified Assessors” on staff who can do assessments using the school’s labs and simulators without having to take a course.

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I’ll start by saying it’s definitely better to have everything you can get, for a number of reasons. To sail on a seagoing vessel over 200 GRT you need to be STCW compliant at all times so if your company has any vessels like that, or builds any, you are now a more valuable employee. (Or if you ever go to another company.)

I think we might have a deal with Mexico where they recognize our Near Coastal licenses but you need to be STCW compliant. (I’m not positive about either of those though.)

I’m not aware of any arrangements with the Bahamas and I’m pretty sure there isn’t one. It’s my understanding that to get from the US to Puerto Rico you need STCW and oceans because the Bahamas don’t count as Near Coastal.

They cover the celestial assessments?

No, but there is little reason they cannot be done on a vessel, apart from not having pubs and a sextant on board. But even then, it’d probably be cheaper to buy a sextant and pubs and bring them with you then taking a course. Plus there may be at most 2 or 3 courses that do the celestial assessments for Master.

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None of our officers have a QA yet. So if I do the celestial assessments aboard I don’t need to take the class?

I agree and I intend to get everything I can. Never know when I might have to find another job. So, the tugboat is 195GRT & 682GT, SOLAS and Sub M. Do I need the STCW 500-3000 Master for that?

Not unless you go foreign or oceans.

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You need an Oceans enforcement to go on that vessel to Hawaii, but not STCW. I do not believe STCW would be necessary to go to Puerto Rico either.

You do not need STCW or oceans to go to Canada on that vessel.

Technically, you probably need STCW to go foreign, except for Canada. That said, there are lots of guys going to Mexico without STCW II/2. There are lots of foreign trips made without STCW or an oceans license, including through the Panama Canal.

USCG enforcement is nonexistent except after an incident.

Local USCG Captains of the Port also supposedly often give incorrect information to companies about what is needed.

Foreign Port State Control is very hit of miss. Generally, no one even comes to the boat in BC. No Transport Canada. No customs. No immigration.

Somewhere between 6 and 12 officials come aboard every time in Mexico.They bring a drug sniffing dog and scrutinize passports, but nothing else. I cannot recall them ever looking at MMCs. There are dozens of papers to be signed and stamped. The agent keeps things flowing. I assume that the agent greases whatever palms need to be greased as part of his service.


Vessels under 200 GRT are only exempt from STCW on “domestic, near coastal voyages” so Hawaii and Puerto Rico runs aren’t exempt.

You are correct.

I think the 200 ton STCW exemption is broadly misunderstood and routinely violated. Nobody notices that “near coastal” provision, or they choose to overlook it.

A good many tugboat masters and mates, and their companies think that they “have STCW” because they took a BT course. They don’t know that they need II/2 less than 500 GT endorsed in their MMC in order to “have STCW.”

The USCG’s lack of enforcement really undermines and devalues those of us that actually have all the required credentials.

I’d guess that less than 10% of the guys that hold Master of Towing or Mate of Towing also have Oceans. Probably less than 5% actually have STCW.


Oy, the plot thickens. I’ve noticed a number of times where the proper licensing was misunderstood or simply ignored. As I’ve told some coworkers in the past who were not sure if they had the right endorsements for something or hadn’t done the right paperwork, ‘none of it matters until something happens or an auditor notices.’

Either way I want to get everything I’m eligible for because I don’t want a surprise later that I suddenly have to get it because I wasn’t legal in the first place. Besides it makes me more marketable.