Towing Endorsements

Towing Endorsements
Towing endorsements include Master or Towing, Mate (Pilot) of Towing, and Apprentice Mate (steersman) of Towing.

Towing endorsements include: firstly Master or Towing; secondly, Mate (Pilot) of Towing; and thirdly Apprentice Mate (steersman) of Towing. When issued without a tonnage limitation these endorsements apply to seagoing tugs of less than 300 GRT; OR to any size tug working exclusively on inland waters. In short this article focuses on the quickest and easiest path from deckhand to Master of Towing by identifying the sea service benchmarks.

Towing Endorsements: From deckhand to Master of Towing

Most deckhands want to advance to the wheelhouse as soon as possible. Therefore knowing these sea service benchmarks is very important. Just as important is getting the endorsement as soon as you meet the requirements. Note that these benchmarks are in 8-hour calendar days. However, when working a two-watch system each 12-hour day counts as a day and a half. For example 240 12-hour days equals 360 8-hour days; And consequently 360 12-hour days equals 540 8-hour days.

Firstly, get the Apprentice Mate (steersman) of Towing endorsement

The first benchmark is 540-days of total sea service experience; that includes 360-days on towing vessels. To clarify, 180-days of this experience may be on any type or size of vessel on any navigable waterway. Once the deckhand reaches this benchmark they should get the Apprentice Mate (steersman) of Towing endorsement. That is to say the deckhand should complete an approved Apprentice Mate (steersman) course. Or, likewise they could take the exams at a USCG Regional Exam Center.

Apprentice Mate (steersman) checklist

To explain, the Apprentice Mate (steersman) endorsement allows the deckhand to stand a watch. But only under the direct supervision of a license Master or Mate of Towing. In other words, this is a training endorsement. While holding this endorsement the deckhand should complete the skill and knowledge assessments in the TOAR. AKA the Towing Officer’s Assessment Record (TOAR).

Near Coastal / Oceans TOAR

Inland TOAR

Secondly, get the Mate (Pilot) of Towing endorsement

The second benchmark is 900-days of total experience. These 900-days must include 360-days on towing vessels while holding the Apprentice Mate (steersman) endorsement. Additionally the mariner must complete: firstly, the TOAR for the route; secondly an approved Basic Firefighting course; and thirdly an approved Radar Observer course.

Mate (Pilot) of Towing checklist

Thirdly, get the Master of Towing endorsement

The third and final benchmark is 1440-days of total experience. This experience must include 540-days as mate on a towing vessel while holding a Mate (Pilot) of Towing endorsement. Additionally advancement from Mate to Master of Towing requires no additional exams or courses. It is based on sea service experience alone.

Master of Towing checklist

Another option to advance from Mate to Master of Towing is to qualify for Master 500 Near Coastal. The advantage is twofold; firstly it reduces the experience requirements by 180-days; and secondly the mariner may operate seagoing tugs greater than 300 GRT. The disadvantage is the mariner must complete the exams at a USCG Regional Exam Center. However mariners working on near coastal or ocean routes may qualify for Master 500 ton; with 360-days on near coastal routes as mate on a towing vessel; and completing a limited exam.

Master 500 / 1600 Ocean / Near Coastal checklist

Towing Endorsements: Conclusion

In conclusion, avoid being the deckhand with 20-years experience by using these benchmarks. However, holding the endorsement does not guarantee advancement to the wheelhouse. But you cannot advance without the endorsement.

Towing Endorsements: References

General Requirements 46 CFR 11.463

Master of Towing 46 CFR 11.464

Mate (Pilot) of Towing 46 CFR 11.465

Apprentice Mate (steersman) of Towing 46 CFR 11.466

Master 500-ton Ocean / Near Coastal 46 CFR 11.418

Apprentice Mate (steersman) course

ColPac eNews June 2021

This ColPac eNews June 2021 is about maritime jobs and how to qualify for them.

ColPac eNews June 2021: How to get a captain license

The OUPV and Master are both captain’s licenses. In addition, both may have Inland or Near Coastal routes. To summarize there are three major differences.

Firstly, the OUPV or 6-pack is for six or fewer passengers on a small uninspected vessel. And the Master is for more than six passengers on an inspected vessel. In short, the Master is a superior license to the OUPV. And therefore may operate both inspected and uninspected vessels within the limitations on the license.

Secondly, there is a difference in the sea service requirements. While the OUPV Inland and Master Inland are the same. Both require 360-days. The Master Near Coastal requires 720-days that includes 360-days on near coastal ocean waters.

Thirdly, the Master course is 80-hours over 10-days and requires 5-exams. The OUPV course is 64-hours over 8-days and requires 4-exams.

In conclusion here are some links for more information.

OUPV 6-pack Captain Course

Master 100-ton Course

Which License: OUPV or Master?

How to get a Captain License

Sea Service Benchmarks (Cheat-sheet)

ColPac eNews June 2021: Jobs

ColPac eNews June 2021
OUPV and Master captains are needed,

Nearly every segment of the maritime industry has job openings. That is to say from tugboats to charter boats. And likewise from commercial tuna fishing to Alaska cruise ships and fishing lodges. In conclusion here is a list of the most recent openings that I am aware of.

Captain for dinner cruise boat

Water2Wine Cruises is looking for a full time captain to run their 84-foot dinner cruise vessel. Firstly the vessel operates out of Richland Washington on the Columbia River. And secondly applicants must have a Master 100-ton Inland license, or higher. In conclusion visit the Water2Wine Cruises website, or contact Jay Denney at 509-578-1717 for more information.

Commercial tuna fishing boats

The FaceBook groupĀ Commercial Salmon, Albacore, and Crab Fishers has several postings from west-coast tuna boats looking for crew. Firstly applicants must be good workers and willing to spend days, weeks, even months at sea. Secondly applicants must be drug, alcohol, and drama free. In summary, fishing industry vessels provide a great opportunity to earn dollars while gaining sea service experience.

Captain for echo-tour boats

If fishing is not your thing, whale watching is an exciting alternative. Whale Research Echo-Excursions is looking for operators for their tour boats. Firstly the minimum license requirement is OUPV Near Coastal. Secondly contact Carrie at 541-912-6734, or visit their website for more information.

Alaska cruise line jobs

UnCruise Adventures is hiring all positions for the summer season. To clarify, this includes 1st Mate, 2nd Mate, Bosun, and licensed deckhands. In conclusion visit their Careers Page for more information.

US Virgin Islands

As with many areas of the country there is a shortage of licensed captains in the US Virgin Islands. For example the Kindred Spirit is looking for OUPV Near Coastal captains. For more information email

2021 Spring Courses

2021 Spring Schedule
Now that I have your attention.

Now that I have your attention here is a list of the 2021 spring courses. Because the courses offered by Columbia Pacific (ColPac) Maritime are US Coast Guard approved they will satisfy the exam requirements without taking exams at the Coast Guard.

  • Click on the link for more course information.
  • Please call Pat at 503-841-6066 to schedule a course.

While ColPac does not offer a First Aid / CPR course, we do recommend Mike Will for this course. For more information please contact Mike call 541-217-6579, or visit his website:

2021 Spring Courses: Original Issue

The courses listed here are for the original issue or reissue of a Cost Guard license.

Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel (OUPV 6-pack captain)

  • 8 consecutive days. Cost $1,000.

Master or Mate 100 or 200-ton

  • 100-ton is 10 consecutive days. Cost $1,200.
  • 200-ton is 14 consecutive days. Cost $1,800.

Apprentice Mate (steersman) of Towing Vessels

  • Full Course is 16 consecutive days. Cost $2,200.

Master or Mate of Fishing Industry Vessels

  • Full course is 16 consecutive days. Cost $2,200.

Radar and ARPA (Automatic Radar Plotting Aids)

  • Combined Radar and ARPA is 7 consecutive days. Cost $900.
  • Radar Observer Unlimited is 4 consecutive days. Cost $600.
  • ARPA is 4 consecutive days. Cost $600.

Upgrade and Renewal Courses

The courses listed here are for the upgrade or renewal of an existing license.

Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) Upgrade Courses

  • Upgrade 100 to 200-tons (Master or Mate) is 4-days. Cost $600.
  • Upgrade Master Inland to Near Coastal is 4-days. Cost $600.
  • Upgrade OUPV to Master is 4-days. Cost $600.
  • Upgrade OUPV Inland to Near Coastal is 4-days. Cost $600.
  • Celestial Navigation 200-ton is 5-days. Cost $800.
  • Auxiliary Sail Endorsement is half-day. Cost $100.
  • Commercial Assistance Towing Endorsement is half-day. Cost $100.

Apprentice Mate (steersman) Upgrade Courses

  • Apprentice Mate (steersman) Upgrade course only is 2-days. Cost $400.
  • Upgrade 200-ton and Apprentice Mate (steersman) Upgrade is 6-days. Cost $1,000.

Master or Mate of Fishing Industry Vessel Upgrade Courses

  • Master or Mate of Fishing Vessel Upgrade course only is 2-days. Cost $400.
  • Upgrade 200-ton and Master or Mate of Fishing Upgrade is 6-days. Cost $1,000.

Refresher (renewal) Courses

  • Radar Unlimited Recertification is 1-day. Cost $200.
  • License Refresher for OUPV or Master 100 / 200-ton is 1-day. Cost $200.