Upgrade to deck license Chief Mate AGT

I am in the process of gathering tools and creating a study plan for an upgrade to Chief Mate/AGT. Any advice?

Lapware will be your best friend. Don’t skip out on it.

  1. Gather all the reference materials and tools. Almanac, tides and currents, light list and coastal pilots, Bowditch, pub 117, chemical data reference book. basically if its in the testing room, get it.

  2. If you are already to move up from 2nd then you should be familiarized with a large portion of the exam. Review the topics you should already know such as Rules of the Road and plotting.

  3. Any subjects you may be unfamiliar with such as compass error or meteorology should be studied and learned.

  4. If you are unfamiliar with the formulas for stability or terrestrial, then get Captain joes. It will give you examples on how to work out the different types of problems where as other programs will not and its much cheaper than other products. Not to mention you can use it when not having an internet connection.

  5. Make note cards. I purchased something like four thousand index cards and I went through every question I could find between Captain Joes, and Hawspipe and Lapware. If there is a question you don’t know, make a note card, then look it up and see why that is the answer. I went through all the topics in each of these programs that were applicable to CM/M AGT and I found that there are a few questions that some will have that others will not.

  6. If you get stuck, get help. Take classes for subjects you have never taken, or like in my case, get help. I spoke to guys who had their Master AGT. I was not ashamed to ask questions and learn. I even spoke to my vessel manager and at one point stayed on a vessel during my time off and just sat in the bridge all day and studied on a different boat because the Master had his Master AGT instead of going home to my family. On another occasion I worked over as a mate for two weeks on another boat just so I could spend time around another Master AGT to ask questions I was having trouble with.

  7. Get into a routine of studying. Try too study at least three hours a day after you first get up. Your brain will absorb these answers a lot better after a full nights rest than you will after being up 14-18 hours and getting off watch. I was actually averaging about 18 hours a day at the house.

This is what I did and passed three weeks ago. Good luck!

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Haven’t used lapware yet, but am planning on getting it for my next upgrade. One of the things holding me back is that I am all Apple … Macbook, iPad, iPhone … and recall reading in the past that the lapware did not play well with Apple products. Have there been any recent changes that now make lapware a good option for Apple users?
I read on the lapware website that they were making the switch over to facilitate this, but have not seen any feedback since then …

Thank you for your response. I appreciate it. I am coming into merchant marine service from the Navy, so I do not have any experience with USCG exams. You had some great ideas for how to approach the exam prep.

I did order Capt Joes a couple weeks ago, but have not received it yet. I tried to contact him and the support staff at the addresses on the website to find out the status of my order, and no one has responded. I am very concerned about that, because it seems it will be a cornerstone to my study plan, at least initially. Does anyone have experience with the company and know why I may not be getting any response from them? or an alternative way to contact them? they do not list a phone number.

Didn’t you say you are prepping for the CM/M AGT exam? Or is that your end goal?

I think with Navy time one can potentially go straight to CM/Master unlimited.

See 46 CFR 10.232(d)(1). The last sentence of that paragraph in particular. Note also that it says military service can be used for all endorsements (emphasis added)

So am I. Didn’t run into any issues, I think I opened it with good chrome instead of safari if I remember right.

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All apple. Worked with no problems on safari. Good app to get is upgrade u. Works with no internet. Able to do questions on the boat. Only problem with lap ware is the internet on the boat is slow and makes it difficult to get any questions done. Always waiting for the page to load.


“In order to be eligible for a master’s or chief engineer’s unlimited endorsement, the applicant must have acquired military service in the capacity of commanding officer or engineer officer, respectively.”

Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!

yes I am prepping for the exam for CM AGT/M 1600. I am not sure what you mean by “is that your end goal.”

Normally you need to test for 3/2M before testing for CM/M. I didn’t realize there was a loophole if you had time as CO/XO.

When I left my last sea assignment as XO of a destroyer in 1987, I was assigned to a shore job where I worked with a several hundred USNR M/M officers. On their recommendation, I got a transcript of sea service from the USN, wrote up what my tasks, roles and watch duties were for all of my sea time, and submitted it to the REC in Baltimore for review. There were some follow up questions that I had to answer for them, and then I got the letter.

I was credited with 2076 days of deck watchstanding. As a hawsepiper, I needed the first 1080 days for 3rd Mate, so I was just 84 days short of sitting for an original Master, AGT. Also had sufficient engineering experience to sit for 1st A/E Steam, Unlimited HP.

Decided to pursue the deck side only. Studied on my own for a year, nights, weekends, while traveling. Sat for four days of exams at the MSO in Norfolk for C/M, Unlimited. Passed everything. Sat a month later for Master, 1600. Passed. Had to go to the REC in Baltimore to launch the lifeboat, then license was issued.

Worked P/T on a dinner cruise boat and a large schooner in Norfolk, but both were “T” boats and none of the time counted for renewal. Had to pay $$$ for a “refresher course” at a maritime school in Norfolk for each renewal. Stopped a few years ago.

When I retired from the USN in late 1993, I almost went with MSC. They offered me a 2nd Mate slot, with some good opportunity to move up, but I pursued a different second career instead of the sea.

It was a great challenge to go through that entire process, and I’m proud of the accomplishment. I learned a LOT through the studying, but no illusions about actually being ready to go do the job that my license as C/M indicated.


I have found applying for a USCG license with Navy experience has been like fitting a square peg into a round hole. It has been necessary for me to take many courses to validate my experience and the licensing process has not been straightforward. I have enjoyed the courses I have taken and learned a lot from them. I also have met many mariners who have helped me learn about the different opportunities of employment in the marine industry. Like ocnslr, I have learned a lot in the process…still more to learn and I appreciate all the information/insights.

Does anyone know how to contact Captain Joe from the Captain Joe’s Deck License website? no one is responding to contact info found on the website. Thanks!

Mariner’s are all square pegs, but the USCG is all round holes.

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You only test for the license you were approved for, there are no prerequisite exams. If you are approved for an original Master license based on military or foreign service, you only take the Master exam.

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Right makes sense. Do you still have to take the operational level classes in addition to the management level ones (for 3/2M)? Basic shiphandling would still be a pre-req for advanced, etc.

Are you sure about those prerequisites ?

Shiphandling you can sub sea time but most of the other advanced courses on the Mitags/PMI site say you need the basic course.