Towing Endorsement

I have been ashore for nearly 20 years now. I very foolishly allowed my license as Master 1600 tons oceans to expire 10 years ago because I was not about to spend a lot of time and money taking STCW courses to maintain a license that I never expected to use again. Times have changed and I need to sail again. The USCG is allowing me to do an “expired renewal” to obtain a Master 1600 tons oceans. That requires retaking the exam and the doing the applicable STCW courses. Fair enough.

I have substantial experience as master on ocean tugs. That’s the skill set that I have to offer.

However, I’ve been told that I cannot get a towing endorsement without starting all over from scratch. This cannot be right.

How do I get a towing endorsement?

If I’m not mistaken you need 60 days on a towing vessel, as well as a completed towing officer assessment record, which needs to be endorsed by a designated examiner. Most companies have sent their senior captains and mates to be certified as designated examiners. AMO also has a course directed by a designated examiner which covers some but not all of the TOAR assessments.

30 days “training and observation” on a tug and a completed toar. Any decent company should have at least one designated examiner working there to complete your toar.

Don’t confuse the “starting from scratch” part with the 30 days part. Since you will come out with a 1600 ton, you only need 30 days on a towing vessel and a completed TOAR. (The TOAR is what is new, and it must be signed off by a USCG authorized Designated Examiner (DE)). A newbie who gets an apprentice steersman licence has to do over a year. You will be able to whip a TOAR pretty fast (allowing that you find a company to hire you for such purposes), and that you can humble yourself to make up for having let your license expire and that being ‘rusty’ it may take more than 30 days. Then again, maybe not! Good luck.

Tugsailor, here’s your huckleberry:

Thank you very much. I’m very relieved to hear that I am not locked out of towing. I can find someway to get the 30 days of “observer time” However, I cannot imagine that any company would want to pay me to be an “observer.” I had expected that I’d have to sail mate for quite awhile before any employer in their right mind would employ “rusty” old me as a master. But now it appears that I will not be able to sail as a mate until after I have the towing endorsement on my master’s license.

Is it possible to get the “observer” time and TOAR sign offs whilst sailing (and being paid) as an AB?

Is there a minimum tonnage or horsepower requirement for the tug (and/or tows), or for the waters ---- where I get my observer time and TOAR sign offs?

Go out of this section, and look in the maritime topics section under training and licensing. Search that forum. There are several hits from others who have asked this same question. Maybe read through some of them to get a feel for what others have gone (or are going) through. There’s a WHOLE LOT of info on this website… And a few crusty old bastards who would be ‘glad’ ###?#@!%? To help you @#$%&&?#!%…!

Correct, however you don’t need the endorsement actually ‘on’ your license. There is a caveat for holders of ‘over 200 ton’ licenses. All you need is possession of a completed TOAR and evidence of 30 days service on a towing vessel.

Actually, in your case I would suspect that your proof could be in the form of a letter from a past employer attesting to XX days as operator from XX to XX. Then you just have to get a TOAR done.

Is it possible to get the “observer” time and TOAR sign offs whilst sailing (and being paid) as an AB?

Yes, but your sea service letter must say your time was as training. The HR dept has to be writing the letter correctly to make it flow smoothly at NMC.

Is there a minimum tonnage or horsepower requirement for the tug (and/or tows), or for the waters ---- where I get my observer time and TOAR sign offs?

Not completely. If you are wanting a TOAR for coastwise towing, then you can’t work on a harbor boat. Likewise, you can’t get western rivers and locks if you are on a coastwise tug. I have not heard of them doing a HP limit.
If you want an ATB TOAR, some companies have an ATB specific TOAR too. An ATB TOAR only let’s you work on an ATB. But a conventional TOAR lets you work on conventional OR ATB.

Is the vessel specific TOAR a relatively new thing. When I completed my TOAR assessments five years ago. The endorsement which the CG added to my licenses(MMC) didn’t say restricted to wire tow, etc.

Either you read it wrong or I typed it wrong!

Someone who completes a whole TOAR with everything checked off gets a towing endorsement. But some boats don’t do specific things. About 5 years ago the USCG started to realize that some TOARs were being completed which ‘fell through the cracks’ regarding specific experience. I tend to think that the TOARs coming in were initially being just checked off as ‘present’ when closer scrutiny made them realize that some guys actually didn’t have the whole thing checked off. I mean, how many really had “Upstream and downstream Lock entry” experience? So some guys were given a TOAR that said they were qualified to western rivers!

If you did your TOAR on a vessel that went from wire to hip or push, or the other way, you got a full TOAR. A guy who did a TOAR on an ATB would have NONE of that, so he would be restricted to ATBs only. I believe there is also a ‘Harbor assist’ level TOAR also, for guys who only have assist work time too, but I haven’t seen one yet.

You should be able to use your past experience as the 30 days but it could take that long to get a toar signed off because of the vessels work schedule. I could easily see a company hiring you and paying you while you work on your toar if you have a lot of past experience, just not in this market.

Take you license down to the oil field. That is better money anyway.

[QUOTE=Jeffrox;65632]Tugsailor, here’s your huckleberry:[/QUOTE]

I emailed Diamond Marine Services yesterday. I received a very prompt. Their TOAR training costs $1,300. They are located in Kingston, NY (about half way up the Hudson River between NYC and Albany).