Tug license

Hello, I’m working towards NC towing. My captain had told me to go for 500 Ton Mate NC to then start a TOAR and 30 days for Mate of Tow. So I am confused as far as STCW and how that plays on tugs as far as what I need. So our tugs are all less than 200 GRT most operate beyond the boundary line and do near-coastal. Sometimes the tugs go down into Mexican waters so international. And rarely do oceans. We also have many inland tugs that don’t require mates. So my question realistically is can I test at the 500 ton level for my National and get mate of tow for a nearcoastal domestic voyage say Sandiego to San Francisco. Or since any vessel over 200 GRT does require STCW does the USCG require that I also have the equivalent STCW liscense on the 500. Like OICNW less than 500 grt operational nearcoastal. I wanna stay in domestic water. I have a lot more questions

Will the liscense say mate of tow NC limited to less the 200 GRT

Your captain is telling you to get a 500t so you don’t have to go the apprentice steersman route. Getting your toar the 30day route is faster in theory but it will likely take longer than that if you don’t have any experience. If you company has any run subject to stcw rules, then you’ll need the required credentials


Recommend you spend some time in the CFR’s

First using the National Mate Towing Checklist it provides CFR references and breaks down the structure of towing licensure 46 CFR 11.463.

46 CFR 11.465(d) addresses Mate of inspected vessel greater than 200 ton.

As to your STCW question 46 CFR 11.301(g)(2) provides an exception for vessels less than 200 tons.

Your captain is steering you straight.

Forget about STCW for now. You don’t need it. Most tugboat mariners do not have it. Most tugboat companies do not know if or when it’s needed. Most think that just taking a BT course means that they have STCW.

Get National Mate 500 tons, use 30 days of the tug time you already have, complete TOAR. (It doesn’t matter what order you do this in).

If your captain who is encouraging you is a DE, do your TOAR now!

After you have National Mate 500 and Mate of Towing, the get Oceans. Once you have Oceans, then work on STCW, if you want to.


Ok thanks I’ll work toward my 500 mate and get my mate of tow NC also last thing is do I need BRM? Captain says I might need that am going for Radar Arpa AFF ECDIS

As a side note, it used to irritate me to hear the “I have my stcw comment” that is actually only BT. I just nod my head in approval now. Tugsailor is right…

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I just took a quick look at the NMC checklist:

Mate 500:

Other Requirements:

First Aid
Basic Firefighting
Advanced Firefighting

I did Not see any mention of BRM, etc

Of course you’ll need radar or the license will restricted to vessels without radar. Same for ARPA.

Mate of Towing:

Hold Mate 500
30 days observation.

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Using the checklist for STCW OICNW less that 500-ton Oceans 46 CFR 11.319 you will find BRM course as part of the endorsement requirements. I have not found the course requirement for a National License Endorsement.

You will also see the required courses for ARPA, ECDIS and GMDSS as optional, if serving on a vessel with this equipment.

As to radar, if on board the tug, you will need it - 46 CFR 15.815 (c)


Hey thanks for helping me out with all the bs

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I understand that the 500 ton license was recommend by your Captain. However, I would check your qualification / eligibility for the 1600 ton license.


I don’t have the tonnage yet to get the 1600 unfortunately. So I guess that would be my next upgrade or 200 master still figuring the game plan out