FAQ about questions about towing licensesFAQ about questions about towing licenses

Here are the answers for some of the most FAQ about towing licenses. For more information, please check out the towing page on my website: Apprentice Mate (steersman) of Towing (colpacmaritime.com).

FAQ about towing licenses

What STCW classes do I need to take to get a towing license?

With only one exception, STCW does NOT apply to towing vessels of less than 200 GRT (500 GT) operating on near coastal voyages within 200 miles offshore and towing vessels of any size operating on inland waters only. The exception is an international voyage, such as going into a Canadian port.

That said every mariner that works on a seagoing tug will benefit from taking a STCW Basic Training (BT) class. That is because BT includes Basic Firefighting, which is a requirement for Mate (Pilot) of Towing.

Do I need to have a tonnage license in addition to my towing license?

The Master and Mate of Towing licenses are valid for towing vessel inspected under subchapter M regulations. So, the answer is NO, you do not need a tonnage license in addition to the towing license. (46 CFR 15.535)

However, if you want to get a Master 1600 GRT Near Coastal license this is my recommendation. Once you get 360-days experience as Mate of Towing Near Coastal apply for the Master 500 GRT taking the partial exams. This will require you to take three exams at the Coast Guard REC rather than the normal seven exams. And then you can advance to Master 1600 GRT without any further testing. 

Which route do I need to get my towing license?

You need to have the route you are working on, or a superior route on your license. To qualify for a route, you need 90-days experience on towing vessels working on the route. AND a completed TOAR for that route. Here is an explanation of the routes.

Firstly, the Western Rivers route is exclusive to the Mississippi River basin. It is not superior or lessor to any other route and does not apply to any waters on the west coast. Additionally, this route is unique to towing vessels.

Secondly, the Inland route covers all federally navigable inland waters except the Great Lakes. Inland TOAR

Lastly, the Near Coastal and Ocean routes include all inland waters except the Western Rivers. Near Coastal, Ocean TOAR

#1 FAQ about towing licenses: How do I get towing license?

Getting the Apprentice Mate (steersman) of Towing is the first step to getting Mate (Pilot) of Towing. The Apprentice Mate allows you to stand a watch under the direct supervision of a licensed Master or Mate of Towing for the purpose of completing the TOAR. Here is an outline of how this works.

Firstly, the Apprentice Mate requires a total of 540-days of experience that includes 360-days on a tug. Once you have this experience you come to the school and take the Apprentice Mate classes. Then apply to the Coast Guard for this license. Once you get the Apprentice Mate you go back to work as a deckhand, while completing the TOAR. 

Secondly, the Mate (Pilot) of Towing requires a total of 900-days that includes 360-days experience while holding the Apprentice Mate. In addition to this experience the applicant for Mate of Towing must have the following.

  • A completed TOAR for the route.
  • Complete an approved basic firefighting class.
  • And an approved Radar Observer class.

Lastly, the Master of Towing requires a total of 1440-days that includes 540-days experience as Mate. No exams or additional classes are required. 

Classes for a towing license

Here is a list of the classes you want to get started. We offer these classes over 16 consecutive days for a total cost of $2,200.

  • First class is the Master 100-ton. This is a 10-day class for $1,200.
  • Second class is Upgrade 100 to 200-ton. This is a 4-day class for $600.
  • Third class is the Apprentice Mate (steersman) of Towing Upgrade. This is a 2-day class for $400.
  • We also off a 4-day Radar Observer Unlimited class for $600. 

Let me know if you have any questions.