Validating my Spanish credentials and certificates to USA standards

Hello fellow mariners, I’m new to the forum, so first of all here’s a protocolary round for everybody :slight_smile:

So, I studied my Vocational Training in Marine Engineering in Spain, and after being enrolled at sea for 90 days I gained my qualifications as an Engine Rating (STCW III/4), or Rating forming part of an Engine-Room watch.

I am also in possession of the following Certificates of Specialty (all of them in concordance with IMO standards):

  • Familiarization and Basic Safety Training (STCW VI/1)
  • Proficiency in Security Awareness and Designated Security Duties (STCW VI/6)
  • Specialization of Medical Care on Board (STCW VI/4)
  • Passenger Ships (STCW V/2)
  • Advanced Firefighting (STCW VI/3)
  • Survival Crafts and Rescue Boats other than Fast Rescue Boats (STCW VI/2.1)
  • Fast Rescue Boats (STCW VI/2.2)
  • Basic Training for Liquified Gas Tanker Cargo Operations (STCW V/1-2)

I am living in the US as a Permanent Resident and would like to start getting my paperwork ready to join the American Merchant Marine (TWIC and MMC). I already hold my Z-Card in international format issued in Spain. So my question is: would it be possible to validate all my paperwork in America? I would assume so, since everything has been issued according to the International Maritime Organization standards, but I want to be sure if this.

It is my fondest desire to work offshore, on LNG carriers if possible, and work my way up to Engine Officer, obtain my citizenship and continue my studies and days at sea to be able to become a Chief Engineer some day.

Any opinions and advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance to everybody willing to participate in this topic.

May the wind gods be favorable to you all :slight_smile:

Dont know myself but you can call the National Maritime Center at:
1-888-472-5622.
They issue all the credentials, etc and they answered all my questions when I was signing up.

I’m sure someone else on here has more details.

No. You need to be citizen to work on US vessels as an officer.

None of your STCW certificates will count towards a US credential. Only courses that are USCG approved count. There maybe exceptions, but if there are they’re very small.

  1. (ADDED 09/15/15) [B]Which countries certificates of competency are recognized by
    the U.S.? Are green card holders able to serve as officers on board U.S. flagged
    vessels? Can you issue officer endorsements to permanent residents of the U.S.?
    Is there a list maintained by the U.S. of administrations whose certificate of
    competencies are recognized?[/B]
    At present, the U.S. has not issued any recognition certificates for other Administration’s
    certificates of competencies. The U.S. Code and federal regulations limit officer endorsements
    to U.S. citizens only. See 46 United States Code 7102 and 46 CFR 10.221.

Most LNG carriers are foreign flagged anyway.

The courses you took had to have USCG approval for the NMC to give you credit for that training.

Do you have any sea time after getting your RFPEW?

[QUOTE=z-drive;178528]No. You need to be citizen to work on US vessels as an officer.[/QUOTE]

From reading the OP he appears aware of the citizenship requirement.

Thanks everybody for your help and kind answers :slight_smile:

Farmerfalconer, I’ll be definitely calling that number soon and see if they can give me some input, thank you.

Z-drive, as far as my CoC goes, it is an Engine Rating CoC meaning, as you well know probably much better than me, that I’d be the last little thing on the bottom of the chain, lol. I’d be working as an oiler/wiper and try to scale my way up. For Spanish standards, with my studies I hold only the ACADEMIC merits to become an officer up to 3000 kW, but to obtain such title I’d have to complete the mandatory days at sea. I wouldn’t have any other way, I have so much to learn. So yes, my CoC as an Engine Rating would be quite basic but it is a start. I wonder how would that translate into the American MM and if I could still be part of the watch, even as an oiler.

As far as the Certificates of Specialty, I don’t know if USCG would consider them up to their standards. Here’s to hope.

Kingrobby, those vessels are certainly a dream, but I’m willing to work in any type of ship right now. I just want to be able to develop and further a career in the AMM.

Capt. Phoenix, I’m hoping the USCG considers my courses valid, since they’re up to STCW standards; I also was lucky enough to get my training at one of the best centers for maritime formation in Spain (Bamio, Pontevedra to be specific). Said courses have also been sponsorized by the Social Institute of Maritime Affairs in Spain, meaning: 1) They do not come from some private institution willing to make money on the sailors back; and 2) They were completely free of cost to me, for which I consider myself very lucky and blessed.

And to answer your last question: I have indeed sailed after obtaining my credentials, but unfortunately that would not count as sea-training days since I was enrolled as a stewardess on a passenger boat.

[QUOTE=Freya;178550]Capt. Phoenix, I’m hoping the USCG considers my courses valid, since they’re up to STCW standards; I also was lucky enough to get my training at one of the best centers for maritime formation in Spain (Bamio, Pontevedra to be specific).[/QUOTE]

“STCW standards” is rather subjective so the USCG basically never accepts courses they have not approved themselves. It might be possible, but it would likely require quite a bit of work and convincing on your part. Right now I would recommend trying to get on a tug that doesn’t require STCW and start accumulating sea time. Either that or retake Basic Training and VPDSD and find an entry level job somewhere. Either of those would be really hard to do right now and your best bet might be to sail on foreign ships on your Spanish documents.

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[QUOTE=Freya;178550]I’d be working as an oiler/wiper and try to scale my way up…if I could still be part of the watch, even as an oiler.[/QUOTE]

Oiler and Wiper are two different things. Wiper is entry level (like OS) and Oiler is an experienced rating you need to test for (like AB).

I’m not an expert, and am frequently caught in the details of the licensing scheme but your only option, unfortunately, is to sail as an entry level seaman on US vessels, unless you have the correct amount of sea-time for the engine rating that can be properly documented. at that point you will have to take USCG approved courses, regardless of whether or not you have elsewhere. You may take USCG exams instead of courses in some cases (AB for example) but its not always worth it. I am sorry this is bad news, but its just the way that it is.

Your best bet would probably be to hire a “license consultant” to review your certificates, seatime etc to see if they know any better options.

This document has some good information if you search through it looking for instances of the word “foreign.” https://www.uscg.mil/directives/cim/16000-16999/CIM_16000_8B.pdf

those arent the actual regulations, but they’re excepts from them with commentary/explanation/clarifications on some issues.

Unfortunately for you (but fortunately for the US mariner) the US system is rigged in complete favour for the US mariner. The merchant fleet of almost every other developed country has been gutted with cheap labor from the third world, part in thanks to STCW.

Foreign seaman with foreign credentials who become lawful US “green card” holders, can get US Seaman’s documents for unlicensed ratings, such as AB or QMED, and sail on US ships. A USCG license consultant would be very helpful to you .

Capt. Phoenix, I’ll be for sure trying to get ANY job that allows me to be on board a seagoing vessel. I just need to take the steps to obtain my credentials in the right order. Right now I have a land based job but I’ll be moving towards the water as soon as I get the chance. I believe that patience, determination and hard work will pay out some day. If I have to take any courses or exams again, so be it. And thanks for clarifying to me the difference between wiper and oiler, it has always been a little confusing to get the right translation of competencies and attributions from Spanish to English due to the normatives in different countries. What you said makes total sense to me.

Z-drive, that documentation has invaluable information that I have been looking into. Definitely worth a more thoroughly read. Thanks again. And no, you haven’t delivered any bad news to me, on the contrary. Like I said earlier, I’d be the lowest link in the chain and I’m OK with that, since I still have so much to learn. One thing though I’ve learned well in this oddly beautiful and challenging trade is that we must be humble enough to accept our own limitations and we should never stop willing to improve. Experience is a grade, and the horizon should be our only realm :slight_smile:

Seamanstan, I know what you’re saying, trust me! The formerly glorious Spanish Marine has been terribly affected by those very policies. My country was craddle to some of the finest seamen that could be found (Admiral Don Blas de Lezo, also unfairly known as “Half Man” must be mentioned here). Nowadays has gone down the pipes, and it’s a shame. So not only I respect this protectionism, but I fully agree with it! US and England are two countries to look up to, as far as caring for their seamen goes.

Gentlemen, thanks again for your interventions, patient and valuable info. It is my pleasure and honor having this conversation with you all.

Tugsailor, thank you as well, I must’ve missed your answer while writing my previous post. I’ll be looking forward to talk with a consultant.

Capt. Phoenix, that’s exactly the plan, work my way from the very beginning, I really want to learn as much as I possibly can and this is the best way to do it. And I definitely want to join the AMM as well as be part of this country where I am finding hope and happiness. I want to give back somehow. Thank you also for clarifying the difference between wiper and oiler; the translation ofvtitulation and attributions between one country to another can be confusing sometimes.

Z-drive, that document is very informative, I’ve been reading it and will keep doing so much more thoroughly, everything is perfectly explained there for what I see. And I will also see a consultant who can hopefully shed more light into it.

Seamanstan, I know exactly what you’re talking about! Our Merchant Marine has suffered so much from those regulations and the tricks associated with them. It’s unbelievable and disheartening to think about our powerful past (glorious Admiral Don Blas de Lezo, unfairly known also as “Half Man” shall not go unnoticed here) and what our formely might has presently become: most of our float is waiving convenience flags and our shipowners are nothing but glorified thugs selling their souls to the devil. Really sad. So I not only accept gladly the current protectionism here, but fully agree with it. America and England play on a different league when it comes to safeguarding their maritime interests and the welfare of their sailors, as it should be.

Tugsailor, thanks for your info as well, if I can get a QMED rating on my MMC I’d consider myself blessed, for it’s the best start I could have.

Gentlemen, thank you all for your patience and valuable help, it’s my pleasure and honor to be able to discuss all these matters with you.

One more question: what do you think about volunteering for Sea Shepherd? What those guys do is right up my alley and for me it’d be the experience of a lifetime. I’ve been thinking about joining them. I don’t know if my time there would count as seagoing days, but I for sure would gain experience and learn a lot.

Opinions? Pros and cons?

[QUOTE=Freya;178601]One more question: what do you think about volunteering for Sea Shepherd? What those guys do is right up my alley and for me it’d be the experience of a lifetime. I’ve been thinking about joining them. I don’t know if my time there would count as seagoing days, but I for sure would gain experience and learn a lot.

Opinions? Pros and cons?[/QUOTE]

This forum in general has a very bad opinion of those people. Their operations are questionably legal at best, frequently outright criminal, and undertaken by idealistic amateurs.

If you’re looking to volunteer, volunteer for Mercy Ships. That’s a much better cause and the sea time is unlimited tonnage.

[QUOTE=Capt. Phoenix;178604]This forum in general has a very bad opinion of those people. Their operations are questionably legal at best, frequently outright criminal, and undertaken by idealistic amateurs.

If you’re Wellington volunteer, volunteer for Mercy Ships. That’s a much better cause and the sea time is unlimited tonnage.[/QUOTE]

I wasn’t aware of that. I mean, I knew that sometimes they get a bit hot tempered, but the last thing I want is being caught performing any illegal activity. Thanks for the warning. I’m all about wildlife conservation, but always in right and fair terms.

I’ve just looked into Mercy Ships, they certainly do an amazing work. Plus hospital ships have some state of the art systems. Very interesting suggestion.

How long does it take to get U.S. Citizenship? If you anticipate getting it within 3 years this might be a good program. I didn’t see anything about needing to be a U.S. Citizen to apply but I know you have to be one by the end to submit the documents to get your officer’s license.

https://www.star-center.com/techprogram/techprogram.html

The Sea Shepard and Greenpeace vessels are registered under Dutch flag as Yachts, thus not requiring the same CoCs as other vessels.
Whether sea time on any of those would count by USCG standard is unknown to me, but looking at the performance of the “actors” in the “whale war” shows I would say that they should not.

PS> There are other charity organizations that operate actual ships, but under non-US flags. OM Ships is a religious organization with ships spreading the faith. If you are Christian you would probably be welcome: http://www.omships.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=48&Itemid=154&lang=en

[QUOTE=cajaya;178611]How long does it take to get U.S. Citizenship? If you anticipate getting it within 3 years this might be a good program. I didn’t see anything about needing to be a U.S. Citizen to apply but I know you have to be one by the end to submit the documents to get your officer’s license.

https://www.star-center.com/techprogram/techprogram.html[/QUOTE]

That is such a good program, I absolutely agree, and I would love to be able to enroll. Unfortunately US Citizenship is required to join, I clicked on the link at the bottom of the page and it’s one of the requirements :frowning:

It will take me 5 years to become a citizen, so I’ll have to work on other options. Nevertheless, thank you for the link, it brings new ideas to the table.

[QUOTE=Capt. Phoenix;178604]This forum in general has a very bad opinion of those people. Their operations are questionably legal at best, frequently outright criminal, and undertaken by idealistic amateurs.

If you’re looking to volunteer, volunteer for Mercy Ships. That’s a much better cause and the sea time is unlimited tonnage.[/QUOTE]

Rather than sail for free (or in the case of Mercy Ships pay to do it) on a non-profit foreign flag ship, it would make more sense to sail for low pay on a real commercial foreign flag ship.

Their are American companies, or companies with US offices, that operate or crew foreign flag ships, and foreign companies, that crew crew American owned of chartered foreign flag ships.

Tidewater, Hornbeck, Superior Energy Services, MMS, Oceanwide, C-Mar, Faststream, and WRS come to mind. You might want to contact their British, Dutch, and Singapore offices, as well as their US offices. Google is your friend.

One other piece of advice: Learn to read, write, and speak English better than average Americans. It is easy for a Spanish speaker to live in the US without learning much English, but that is not the path to success in America.

[QUOTE=tugsailor;178621]One other piece of advice: Learn to read, write, and speak English better than average Americans. It is easy for a Spanish speaker to live in the US without learning much English, but that is not the path to success in America.[/QUOTE]

I think his posts in this discussion attest to Freya’s fluency in English and writing skills. I wish my Spanish (and Gallego) was as good as Freya’s English.

I’m not sure it’s been mentioned yet, service on foreign ships is acceptable for U.S. endorsements.