SWO to 3rd Mate

Hello - I recently completed my Navy service as a Surface Warfare Officer (also USNA grad) and am itching to get back out to sea. Looking for advice from any former SWOs about acquiring a 3rd Mates credential through the Military to Mariner program.

How recent was your seatime

I separated in May directly from Sea Duty

Pay attention to (a)(2)(iii).

BTW, you could very likely get at least 2nd mate if not go straight to chief mate if you have enough sea time.

Thank you. I will most likely request 2nd Mate on my application. If the Coast Guard decides not to issue me a 2nd Mate will they reject my application or downgrade it to 3rd Mate automatically?

They will request more information, which gives you a chance to request in writing (email) to go get 3rd mate instead.

I believe you’ll still have e to test though, you’ll just meet the qualifications needed to test. You’ll probably also need to take a few STCW classes, but those can be done pretty quickly.

Depends on how much Navy seatime you will have and experience. I believe the coast guard counts counts Coast Guard and Navy seatime as 5/7th. (For every 100 days you get 71). Not sure if you need the 1,080/ 1522 navy days to get third mate mate or if the SWO officer watchstanding will count as some. The maritime academies get this seatime through sea terms and classes approved by the coast guard to supplement as seatime. The naval academy/ coast guard academy curriculum are not uscg approved as supplement for merchant Mariner seatime. Remember the USNA purpose was to train you to be a military officer not a maritime officer so your training is different than that of a maritime academy grad. Same goes for your SWO that’s different than being a Maritime OICNW.
If you are able to get a national endorsement as 3rd mate which will most likely be only after take if the USCG 3rd mate exams, it will be useless because you do not have any of the internationally recognized STCW classes and endorsements. Therefore you will have to take all the STCW classes as well.

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I believe the US Army on their landing craft/ watercraft is the only branch that gets USCG merchant Mariner licenses and STCW training while in the military. I believe some may be issued limited licenses. So they are the only guys that can literally step right on a merchant vessel from the military.
However, their job is very similar to that of a merchant Mariner, way more than any job onboard a Coast Guard or Navy vessel.


It’s 60%. See 46 CFR 10.232(d)(1).

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Unless it changed, you can also use actual days underway if more.

He gets it by being a USNA graduate.

Yes they are.

Did you bother read previous replies?

Yes, I just assumed this was understood but I shouldn’t do that.

The same applies here as above and they definitely will.

Yes I did read it. But did you bother to read your cut and paste response???
The curriculum alone at the Coast Guard Academy and USNA does not count. It only does when supplemented “with qualification as an underway officer in charge of a navigational watch, underway officer of the deck, or deck watch officer;” AND this is only for the national endorsement not the STCW which he will need! Unless, he intends to just frame the damn endorsement on the wall.

Some friendly advice … maybe read the information you cut and paste before you go on the attack.

I’ve known people who’ve gone through the process. It’s not what you are leading him to believe buddy.

Yes, which as a SWO he has so that’s not an issue.

True, but the hard part is getting approved to test. He can take the OICNW classes whenever he wants.

It can be exceedingly difficult. As an OOD and USNA guy you do qualify to sit for 3/m, and with enough sea time maybe even 2/m. But you will still need to build a package. Did you request a transcript of sea service from PERS? The MilGears website lays some of this out. You’ll also need your FitReps from sea duty documenting your watchstanding. The evaluators at the NMC are not fluent in Navy, especially for officers. You can save yourself a little money and get your firefighting documented as an acceptable course for that requirement - have you downloaded the checklist from the NMC website yet?

What do you want to do with your license? If it’s sail for MSC or some deep sea firm you’ll need the OICNW endorsement as well. That’s a lot of classes. There are some schools on the east coast and Florida that offer them, but you’ll be in about 20 grand to take them all. Find one that offers the celestial navigation course with approval to replace the celnav modules on your exam, because:

THE TEST IS HARD. It’s a whole bunch of stuff they never taught us as SWOs. Unless you were a NAV as a second tour a lot of it is going to be new. There are some practice tests on the NMC website and you can (and should) buy something like Lapware to start reviewing the material. Buy all the material you’re allowed to have in the test room and start practicing looking up answers in the CFRs, because believe me you’re going to have to.

It’s a tough row to hoe but if you can pull it off you should be proud of yourself. Good Luck!


You can use GI Bill money for those classes, right?

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So you’re basically telling us the navee guys don’t know how to drive ships…without telling us the navy doesn’t know how to drive ships. Got it! (“If it’s gray…”)

Absolutely; MITAGS and STAR Center (and others) will gladly take your GI Bill money, whether or not that’s the most effective use of the benefit is up to the individual to decide (you can get a lot more return using it as a college student with the housing allowance).

If the OP doesn’t already have a masters degree, I’d suggest seriously considering taking the MS+License program that some of the maritime academies offer. It would be 3 years of to complete the program, but you’ll actually learn everything you need to to pass the test.