Sea Service Benchmarks

Sea Service Benchmarks
Sea Service Benchmarks (AKA Cheat-sheet)

Sea Service Benchmarks (AKA Cheat-sheet) provides a snapshot of the experience requirements for different credentials. Getting the credential does not guarantee that you will get the job. But, unless you hold the credential you will not have the opportunity to do the job. To summarize, the fastest way to advance in the maritime field is to get the credentials you qualify for as soon as you have the sea service experience.

In an effort to assist mariners in meeting this goal I have listed some benchmarks. Additionally here are a couple of useful links to help with this goal.

Help documenting your sea service experience

National Maritime Center Checklist

Sea Service Experience: 0 to 179-days

With no experience the mariner may apply for an MMC endorsement as Ordinary Seaman (OS). Consequently the OS is an entry level rating. To work on seagoing vessels 100 GRT and greater the mariner must have an OS or AB. Application for an OS requires the following. Firstly, enrollment in TWIC. Secondly, DOT/USCG Drug Screening form 719P. Thirdly, Application for Medical Certificate short form 719KE. Scan and email the application to a Regional Exam Center (REC).

For help with the application process check the Home Page.

Sea Service Benchmarks: 180 to 359-days

With 180-day (6-months) of experience the marine may qualify for a Mate 200-ton or less Inland. Or Able Seaman (AB) Sailing, Fishing, OSV ratings.

Mate 200-ton or less Inland

Able Seaman (AB)

Fishing guide / charter boat Sea Service Benchmarks: 360 to 539-days

1-year (360-days) of sea service experience is a big benchmark for young mariners. That is to say the mariner has several good options for endorsements. For instance, OUPV Inland or Near Coastal, Mate 200-ton or less Near Coastal, and Master 200-ton or less Inland. Additionally the mariner may qualify for an AB Special.

OUPV (6-pack Captain) Inland or Near Coastal

Master (Mate) 200-ton or less

Able Seaman (AB) Special

Tugboat Captain 540 to 719-days

1.5-years (540-days or 18-months) is another big benchmark for mariners. This is certainly for mariners working on towing vessels. Because at this benchmark the mariner is able to take the first step to Master of Towing. That is to say, the mariner may qualify for Apprentice Mate (steersman) of towing. Additionally the mariner may qualify for an AB Limited.

Apprentice Mate (steersman) of towing vessels

Able Seaman (AB) Limited

Ocean Charter Boat 720 to 899-days

With 720-days (2-years or 24-months) of experience the mariner may qualify for Master 200-ton or less Near Coastal. Additionally the mariner may also qualify for Mate 500 or 1600-ton.

Master 100-ton and 200-ton

500/1600-ton Mate Inland checklist

500/1600-ton Mate Near Coastal checklist

900 to 1079-days

2.5-years (900-days or 30-months) is another benchmark for mariners working on towing vessels. This is because mariners holding an Apprentice Mate (steersman) of towing may qualify for Mate of Towing.

Mate (Pilot) of towing vessels

1080 to 1439-days

Another important benchmark for mariners is 3-years (1080-days or 36-months). For example, the mariner may qualify for Mate of Uninspected Fishing Industry Vessels and Able Seaman (AB) Unlimited. Additionally the mariner may qualify for Master 500/1600-ton Inland, or Master 500-ton Near Coastal.

Mate of Fishing Industry vessels

Able Seaman (AB) Unlimited

500/1600-ton Master Inland checklist

500-ton Master Near Coastal checklist

1440-days and more

The last benchmark is 4-years (1440-days or 48-months). Since this is the greatest sea service benchmark, it is required for the three important Master endorsements. This includes Master of Towing, Master of Uninspected Fishing, and additionally Master 1600-ton Near Coastal.

Master of towing vessels

Master of uninspected fishing industry vessel

1600-ton Master Near Coastal checklist

Any Questions?

Please email any questions to We are here to help you meet your professional licensing goals.