Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions
MMC Frequently Asked Questions

What follows is a collection of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) that I have received over the past few months.

I am always happy to answer your questions. So, if you have a question regarding USCG licensing or Merchant Mariner Credentials please email it to

Most Common Frequently Asked Questions

All the Coast Guard 719 forms are expired. What forms should I use?

The expiration date on all the 719 forms is 03/31/2021, so yes they are expired. However the Coast Guard has declared that these forms are valid until updated versions become available.

All Coast Guard 719 forms

How much sea service experience do I need?

Reference Sea Service Benchmarks

How do I document my sea service experience?

Reference Help Documenting your experience

How do I apply for a Captain license?

Reference How to get a 6-pack license (just change the sea service numbers to fit the license you want)

How do I renew my License?

Reference How to renew a Captain License

Where do I send the application to? And what fees do I need to pay?

Email the application to one of the 18 Regional Exam Center (REC) around the nation. However I do recommend Portland REC. Their email address is

Instructions for emailing an application to an REC

Pay the application fee of $145 to the Coast Guard using the Pay.Gov website.

Less Common Frequently Asked Questions

Who can complete the physical exam?

Form 719K states that any physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner may conduct the physical. That said, I recommend health occupation clinics because of their experience with these type of physicals and paperwork. Most importantly the physical exam must be completed using the Coast Guard form 719K.

Do I need full STCW for Master 100, 200 or Master / Mate of fishing?

No. STCW does not apply to uninspected fishing industry vessels, seagoing vessels less than 200 GRT, or any vessel operating exclusively on Inland waters.

What study materials do you recommend to prepare for the Captain course?

Everything that you need to know to pass the exams is covered in the class. Therefore there is nothing that must be studied before taking the class. However looking over some of the publications that should be aboard your vessel may enlighten you with some general knowledge. So here are three references you can checkout before the course.

  • Firstly the USCG Light List contains information on the US aids to navigation system. Of particular interest is the general information in the front (roman numeral) pages.
  • Secondly the US Coast Pilot contains local knowledge about US ports and harbors. US Coast Pilot Chapter 1 contains general information of interest to all mariners.
  • Lastly the Rules of the Road contain the International and Inland Collision Avoidance Regulations that apply to ALL VESSELS.

Is the school located in Portland or Coos Bay?

Columbia Pacific (ColPac) Maritime was located in Portland, Oregon until March 2020. However we relocated to Coos Bay, Oregon in April. And have been offering classes in Coos Bay since May 2020.

How to get a 6-pack license

OUPV 6-pack captain license is for carrying 6 or fewer passengers for hire on inland or near coastal ocean waters.

How to get a 6-pack license, AKA OUPV captain license. Or more specifically How to apply for a Merchant Mariner Credential National Deck Officer endorsement. That is the official category of endorsement for the the OUPV. Also known as the 6-pack captain, this license required vessels carrying 6 or fewer passenger for hire. And it is also the most common license for fishing guides operating on inland waters, or near coastal ocean waters. Complete steps, along with help pages and links to all the USCG forms is available on the Columbia Pacific (ColPac) Maritime website. What follows is the short version.

1st Document your experience

The first thing to do is document your sea service experience on form CG 719S. To clarify, the 6-pack requires 360-DAYS over your lifetime. For the near coastal oceans route 90 of these days must be over the bar past the end of the jetties. If you don’t have enough days for the license than don’t waste your time and money with the remaining steps until you do. 

More information on the OUPV 6-pack endorsement.

2nd TWIC, first-aid, CPR

The next step is to enroll in the TWIC program. Be sure to save your receipt for payment because it is your proof of enrollment.

And then take a standard first aid / CPR course. The first aid – CPR course should be from the American Red Cross (ARC). Or a course from another provider that can issue a course completion certificate with a USCG approval code.

3rd Physical Exam, drug screening, Coast Guard application form

The Coast Guard forms available at the time of this post have an expiration date of 03/31/2021. However these forms are still valid until further notice. These forms are available on the ColPac Home Page or from the National Maritime Center website.

Get a physical exam and DOT/USCG Drug screening using forms CG 719K (physical exam) and CG 719P (DOT/USCG Drug Screening). A Health Occupational Clinic is the best place to get this done. But most important make sure to use the Coast Guard forms.

And then complete the application form CG 719B. Be sure and have your signature on this form notarized. If you answer YES to any of the criminal background questions you will also need to complete form CG 719C.

4th Pay the USCG fees and email to an REC

Lastly pay the application fees online at the Gov.Pay website. They should be $145.

Now scan all these documents and forms. And then email them to a USCG Regional Exam Center (REC). To clarify the application package will include all the CG forms; the TWIC enrollment receipt; first aid / CPR certificates; and receipt for payment. 

Link to the Email instructions.

5th Take the exams or an approved course

The mariner has a choice of taking the exams at an REC OR complete an approved course. The USCG accepts an approved course completion certificate in lieu of taking the Coast Guard exams. Columbia Pacific (ColPac) Maritime offers an approved OUPV 6-pack course. And many other approved courses as well.


In conclusion, the order of the steps is not as important as the steps themselves. The reality is that most mariners take the course first. But it is not a requirement. If fact, we recommend that you apply before taking the course.

Please contact if you have any questions. I am here to help.

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.