Upgrade from Master OSV to Master Unlimited

I know we have discussed this before and I have reread some old threads and the checklists, but remain a bit confused about how this actually works in practice. My understanding is that there is an upgrade path from Master OSV to Master unlimited.

I’m not interested in discussing what the USCG regulations ought to be or why they should not be as they are.

Now that I have Master OSV 2000/4000, I would like to remove the OSV limitation. I expect to be stuck with the same tonnage limitation forever.

As I read the CFRs and the checklist, it appears that I am entitled to upgrade to unlimited Master STCW II/2 3000 GT or more, without anymore sea time just by passing the exam and taking the mandatory STCW courses. However, I do not see anything that authorizes me to obtain a national license as Master AGT restricted to 2000/4000. Without the national license to go with it the STCW would be meaningless.

Can anyone point me to the correct Info?

Has anyone ever done this?

Look at the requirements in 46 CFR 11.404 for Master Unlimited, and then look at the definition of “chief mate” in 46 CFR 10.107.

Thank you.

Of course the CFR just raises more questions.

  1. 360 days of service must be as Chief Mate, even though sailing Master is superior experience, sailing as Master does not count? Or does sailing as Master count?

  2. 180 days may be on vessels over 100 GRT, but less than 1600 GRT?

  3. 180 days must be on vessels over 1600 GRT?

  4. 360 days (8 hour watch) or 240 days (12 hour watch) as Chief Mate on an ATB, or other tug/barge combination, over 1600 GRT is creditable as 180 days of service over 1600 GRT?

Those would be the requirements for Master unlimited without any tonnage restriction.

So what would the requirements be for Master AGT, restricted to 2000/4000? Logically, that should not require any seatime over 1600 GRT?

46 CFR 11.402.

So it’s the same as with my current 2000/4000 license, I can live with that.

God how I hate this world!


I agree with you that this OSV to Unlimited licensing give away for the bayou boys is total BS.

However, since everyone else is benefiting from this screwed up USCG system, I might as well too. At my advanced age it doesn’t really make much sense since I never sail on anything other than tugs and fishing vessels, but I just want to have 2000/4000 without a effin’ OSV restriction.


As far as I can see, there is no requirement to pass an exam to receive the STCW endorsement.

There are assessments and additional training. Many of the assessments are “signed off” as part of taking the classes.

Many of the tasks in the Assessment Guidelines attached tho NVIC 101-14 are designated with “Note 1”, " Mariners holding STCW endorsements as Master or Chief Mate of 500 GT or More and Less Than 3,000 GT do not need to complete these assessments."

Correct, the exam is for the national endorsement that is a requirement to get the STCW endorsement.

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