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.

How to Renew a Captain License

How to Renew a Captain License is a question I hear often. Consequently the renewal process is similar to the original application process. But there are a few differences.

The Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) is valid for 5-years. Therefore the MMC can be renewed anytime before it expires, and within 1-year after it expires. In other words, you can renew it up to 1-year after it expires. But you cannot work on an expired credential. To renew a credential that is more than 1-year past the expiration date you must complete a course or exams for the original issue.

Document of Continuity (Inactive Status)

If you do not wish to renew your MMC, or are unable to renew it, DO NOT LET IN EXPIRE. The alternative to expiration is to put the document into continuity. To clarify, continuity means an inactive status. You cannot work on it, but it never expires. Therefore you can renew it at anytime without retaking the entire course.

To place your MMC into continuity use Application for a Merchant Mariner Credential form 719B. Complete Section I as normal. However in Section II is different. For the type of transaction select Continuity. And then write the description of the endorsement that you want to put into continuity. For example OUPV Near Coastal. In contrast, ignore Section III. But sign and date Section IV. And then scan and email the form to a Regional Exam Center (REC). There are no fees for continuity.

How to renew a captain license How to Renew a Captain License: an outline of the basic renewal process.

TWIC: Renew or not to renew; that is the question?

Renewal of the OUPV or Master less than 100-ton does not require renewing the TWIC. However, because enrollment in TWIC provides the Coast Guard with a background check; NOT renewing your TWIC delay your approval. To renew your MMC WITHOUT renewing the TWIC locate the TWIC exception statement on Coast Guard form 719B. It is located at the beginning of Section III, top of page 4. Read the TWIC exception statement. And then check the box if the statement is true.

Reference Coast Guard Policy Letter 11-15

How to Renew a Captain License: Sea Service Experience

Document your sea service experience over the past five years using Coast Guard form 719S. If you can document 360 days over the past five years you can renew without any exams. If you can not document the experience than give us a call and we will schedule the one-day License Refresher course. To clarify, if you can document 360 days in the past five years the License Refresher course is NOT required.

Help with documenting Sea Service Experience

How to Renew a Captain License: Physical Exam and USCG/DOT Drug Screening

Renewal of the MMC requires both a physical exam and drug screening. But there are some options for drug screening. Reference the second page of the DOT/USCG form 719P for drug screening options.

Help with the forms 719K and 719P

Application form 719B

All MMC renewals require the Application for Merchant Mariner Credential form 719B. For the renewal complete Section I thru Section IV. In Section II type of transaction, check renewal for each endorsement category that applies. And then write in a description of all the endorsements that you are renewing in the Description of Endorsement box.

Help with Applcation for Merchant Mariner Credential form 719B

Pay USCG Application Fees

Go to the Pay.Gov website to pay the USCG application fees. The fees for the renewal of an officer endorsement is $95. Firstly, the evaluation fee of $50for the renewal of an officer endorsement. Secondly, the issuance fee of $45. But, most important, the application package must include the payment receipt.

Scan and Email the application to an REC

The renewal applications must scanned and saved to a pdf file. And then emailed to a USCG Regional Exam Center. USCG instructions for scanning and emailing.

We recommend Portland REC, but any REC will accept your MMC Application.

  • Portland REC contact information.
  • 911 NE 11th Ave, Room 637
  • Portland, Oregon 97232
  • Phone (503) 231-2296
  • Fax (503) 231-6738

Locate an REC near you >>

In Conclusion

Access to all the Coast Guard forms and help information is available on this website. However, Columbia Pacific (ColPac) Maritime is here to help you. Helping mariners to get and keep their professional credentials is our business. Call or email us if you need help.

February 2021 ColPac Newsletter

This is a quick note to get some information out to the industry.

MMC and Course Completion Certificates

Update on Merchant Mariner Credentials (MMC) that expire between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. The expiration date has been extended for one-year, or until October 31, 2021, whichever is earlier. However, mariners working on expired credentials must carry the expired credential with a copy of this notice. In addition course completion certificates that expire between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 are also extended until October 31, 2021

View the notice >>

Employment Opportunities

Pacific Salmon Charters in Ilwaco, Washington has opens for charter boat captains. Minimum license requirement is Master 50-ton Near Coastal. In addition the applicant must be available to pass a drug screening. Please contact Pacific Salmon Charters at 1-360-642-3466 or 1-800-831-2695; or email

Best Question of the month

I’m getting ready to voluntarily drift for the night, not broke down or having any issues and I’m wondering if you can confirm proper nav lights for me. Boats policy has been red over red but the more I think about it the more I want to make sure.

Email your questions to

Red over red indicates the vessel cannot maneuver because of an exceptional circumstance. Meaning a mechanical malfunction and you no other choice but to drift uncontrollably. The correct lighting for drifting by choice is power-vessel lights. That said, while the display of two all-round red is not correct for drifting by choice, it is a custom for drifting without a proper watch or lookout in many fleets. I believe the intent is understood.