What positions that you can serve as with a 3rd A/E and w/o OICEW

I am editing the title and first posting because I have found out through corrospondance with the USCG a lot of information for anyone in the same situation. Please read but verify with the USCG iasknmc@uscg.mil as to your particular situation. I hope this helps someone or at least gives them a better understanding than I had a few weeks ago.

I currently have my 3A/E Motors Unlimited but without OICEW, while I have ERM I do not have the other 5 classes that are now required. I still want to work as an engineer while I am taking the classes but I can’t find any definitive answer as to what capacities I can serve as. Can I work as a 3rd just not be a watch-stander like a day worker, or DDE etc that I can still serve as in the interim. Any resources will be helpful and thank you ahead of time.

Well the deadly silence is a firm indicator then…

In my opinion only, as long as you are not in charge of a watch you should be qualified for other positions. Examples would be dayworker or watchstanding 3rd under the supervision of another engineer.

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You can get DDE and sail as Chief on Tugs.

You can sail Great Lakes

You can sail Inland, including harbors

You can sail on most ferries.

You can sail on factory trawlers.

Many tug companies are looking for licensed engineers. At many companies, sailing chief on a tug pays better than sailing 3AE on a union ship.

You have opportunities



Without knowing what you’re making now I’m going to guess that you might be better off financially staying as ETO on the drill ship, though I guess if you get on a tug you can be getting days towards your upgrade.

Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven.


I thought I would share what I have found out thus far from the USCG, you can take it or leave it but I have found out that even though there was a huge surge with the STCW’s a while back unless you ship internationally its a bunch of smoke and mirrors.

From the USCG (asking the same question as the title of the post):

You can serve under any capacity that is on your Mariner Credential at this time. OICEW allows you to use your 3rd A/E Internationally or on vessels whose manning requirements state you need to hold it. Not having it doesn’t hinder you from working as a 3rd A/E in general unless your employer requires you to have the OICEW as well.

46 CFR 42.05-45 (Clarification on 3rd A/E Internationally)

46 CFR 42.05-45 as per the Article 2(4) of the 1966 Convention clearly states this as “international voyage means a sea voyage from any country to a port outside such country, or conversely” and defines that any US held territories beyond our boundary is still a domestic voyage “…the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Territory of Guam, the Virgin Islands, and all possessions and lands held by the United States under a protectorate or mandate shall each be considered to be a territory of the United States…” as such the definition of an international voyage is NOT directly related to country terrestrial boundaries.

Now that being said the ships like bulk carriers and shipping that are US flagged and hit foreign ports will be stated in the minimum manning that there should be a OICEW on the watch, but ships like coastal tugs supply ships and such will not have this and thus be up to the company lastly. Legally if the US flagged ship touches foreign soil you’ll need OICEW but that is the only requirement.

And thank you everyone for your responses, I just mainly added the legal answer so that someone else in the future will have reference to fall back on if they find themselves in the same situation.

This should go without saying but again if someone needs the information in the future, this is all in referance to a US ship working / porting in only US ports. A foreign ship working in US waters and porting in only US ports is still considered a “International voyage”

Just be prepared for rude awakening when you try to get a job

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That’s incorrect. STCW is required on any “seagoing vessel” over 200 GRT (500 GT); seagoing means outside the demarcation line. International or domestic voyages have no bearing on the application if STCW.

See 46 CFR 15.1103

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This is exactly what the USCG NMC told me when I asked them the question. I am only putting up what I have found out.
I have also been offered a job on the great lakes, 1000 ft bulk carrier for which the comapny and AMO know that I do not have a OICEW.
Your findings reinforce what what I received from the USCG because in each case it states a specific duty that would be listed on a minimum manning certificate by that name. Items A-E refer to RFPEW, Able Seafarer Engine, RFPNW, Able seafarer Deck etc. these specific titles will be listed on the minimum manning certificate by name. This again goes back to the USCG response that I received stating:

…or on vessels whose manning requirements state you need to hold it…

Item (f) states again as per the USCG response that:

…on an international voyage…

Which is addressed in my reply and in the USCG reply above already with definitions and explanations.
the last two items in the CFR you referenced isnt relavent to engine department BUT being a ETO for many years I have my GMDSS Operator and Maintainer along with a valid medical certificate.

I really don’t care if you believe me but if anyone in the same situation comes across this post please call, email or write a letter and mail it to the NMC and ask them they WILL give you the exact same response I have received. I am not saying that you do not need to get the OICEW endorsement but in the current state of the regulations as written and the vacuum it has created with approved training every single hawspiper is looking at the additional classes alone of 80 days and $13,700 for the 5 new classes not including the MCP, survival craft, basic and advanced FF etc.

I just want everyone to know don’t give up go ahead and get your 3rds (testing), maybe find a job or continue as a QMED because while you are taking your classes for OICEW you will at least get 2-1 on your 2nds (up to a maximum of 180 days), that there are options out there. listen to me or don’t I don’t care but at least get a hold of the NMC or REC and ASK FIRST before you just blindly take the advise of someone and THEIR interpretation of the CFR’s. Because it doesn’t mean jack what counts is what the all mighty regulators i.e. the USCG interpret them to mean. Besides the inland and great lakes could give a holy good god damn what the STCW says they are kinda stubborn that way.

One last thing:

  1. To test for and hold a 3rd Assistant Engineer you only need (besides seatime and HP requirements) CPR, First Aid, Basic and advanced FF THATS IT! When you pass the test and you will receive the license without STCW restrictions other than motor if your seatime is only on motor vessels, or you apply for a limited 3rds.

The great lakes doesn’t require STCW.

I believe that that’s what they told you, they’re just wrong.

That’s the advice most people here would give anyone.

That only applies to passenger ships.

“(f) Onboard a passenger ship…”

46 CFR 10.107

Seagoing vessel means a ship that operates beyond the boundary line specified in 46 CFR part 7.

46 CFR 15.1103

(a) Onboard a seagoing vessel of 500 GT or more, driven by main propulsion machinery of 1,000 HP/750 kW propulsion power or more or on an international voyage beyond the boundary line as described in part 7 of this chapter, no person may employ or engage any person to serve, and no person may serve, in a position requiring a person to hold an STCW endorsement, including master, chief mate, chief engineer officer, second engineer officer, officer of the navigational or engineering watch, or GMDSS radio operator, unless the person serving holds an appropriate, valid STCW endorsement issued in accordance with part 11 of this subchapter.

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So the USCG, the people that enforce the rules and regulate the proceedings told me the wrong thing.

Listen I am only trying to state my experience I am not even really trying to give advise more of the fact that everyone i talked to in the beginning said no you can’t do that … every single one of them were wrong. this is just posted to tell people that there are options many many options and I apologize but you are wrong sir.


That’s not who you asked, you asked the NMC.

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the National Maritime Center is run by the:


Whatever you are wrong wrong wrong but your endless bantering is driving up the post and maybe some poor sob that is thinking it is now impossible to get a license under the new regulations may, just may find a glimmer of hope is some of this. Maybe see that like everyone else I have come across; you read the regulations, misinterpreted them and regurgitated false information in fear that one of us hawsepiper’s are going to take your job because we’re just damn better at it, or you just don’t care that its wrong, in any case I have won.

(BTW I thought that trolling stopped at like 13 yr olds and why the hell is everyone on this site a “CAPT” seriously, maybe because all bridge crew does is sit on the internet giving guys like me a hard time. Go make another cup of coffee or run aground anything but harass someone honestly trying to help other mariners)

Also even if this item pertained to me as a 3rd Assistant Engineer in the aforementioned circumstances, which it doesn’t, but if it did this regulation ONLY covers a C/E, 2nd Engineer Officer (in America known as a 1st Assistant Engineer) nothing lower than that at all not even a OICEW. Verbatim from the CFR and your text which I assume you copied straight from the CFR. The entire regulation as a whole, for the engineroom only covers the C/E, 1st Assistant and QMED nothing else in between at all except passenger vessels. Which why in the hell would anyone willingly put themselves through that hell on earth.