Sea Service Experience

There are many miss-conceptions about sea service experience; but here are the facts.

First, sea service experience is a measurement of your experience on vessels, counted in calendar days. Additionally, it includes time on inland waters, as well as ocean waters. In conclusion any day that you are on a boat, and away from the dock counts as one calendar day.

Second, this experience accumulates over your lifetime and never expires. Above all the mariner must keep track of his or her own experience. Because the Coast Guard will not keep track of for you. Consequently save all your original info in your personal records.

Third, there is no minimum size or horsepower of a vessel for experience to count. But, you must be able to document it for it to count. In conclusion most of us will use the Small Vessel Sea Service form CG 719S to document our sea service experience.

Research the pages on this site to determine how much experience is needed. Or checkout this Sea Service (AKA Cheat-sheet) Benchmarks post.

Sea Service Experience Sea Service Experience: Help using form CG 719S

Two most important tips for using this form. Firstly, use one form for each vessel you have experience on. Secondly, read the instructions on the form carefully and complete the form exactly as per the instructions.

Sea service experience form 719S Section I Applicant Information

This section identifies the mariner and the vessel the experience was on. The following clarifies some of the info requested.

Official Number

Firstly this is to identify the vessel. Therefore this requires either the state registration number, or the vessel’s official number from the Certificate of Documentation.

  • Certificate of Documentation (COD) is issued by the USCG. The COD includes a description of the vessel, name, home port, the official number, owners, and a record of ship’s mortgages.
  • USCG National Vessel Documentation

Gross Register Tons (GRT)

To clarify, GRT is not the weight of the vessel. But a measurement of the volume of space within the hull. Consequently GRT is used to describe the size of documented vessels. In summary, to find the GRT reference the vessel’s Certificate of Documentation, or leave this box empty for state registered vessels.

Bodies of Water

The body of water is identified with the geographic names. Examples include the North Pacific Ocean, Columbia River, Coos Bay, and so on. On the other hand Newport, Oregon is not the name of a body of water, however Yaquina Bay is.

Sea service experience form 719S Section II Record of Underway Service

While this section is in two parts, the bottom part is the most important. The top part is a worksheet to estimate the number of days underway each month of the year. The bottom has two-columns with three-boxes in each column. Each box must contain a number, even if it is zero.

Total number of days served on this vessel.

In this box enter the total underway days estimated from the top part.

Average hours underway (per day).

A calendar day is defined as 8-hours, but is never less than 4-hours. Enter the average hours away from the dock, while considering all the days recorded on the worksheet.

Average distance offshore.

This may be miles when on ocean waters, or yards for rivers and bays. Enter whatever that average distance is into this box.

Number of days served on the Great Lakes.

Consider all the days recorded on the form and enter the number of days that were on the Great Lakes into this box. On the other hand, if none of the days were on the Great Lakes enter zero in this box.

Number of days served on water shoreward of the boundary line.

The boundary line means a line drawn between the most seaward points of land at the entrance to rivers and bays. Or, in other words, these are inland days. Therefore enter the number of inland days in this box.

Number of days served on water seaward of the boundary line.

The number entered into this box represents the mariner’s experience on near coastal ocean waters. Any day that the vessel crossed the boundary line counts as a near coastal ocean day. Additional any days operating in Straight of Juan De Fuca, the Inside Passage through British Columbia, and SE Alaska count as near coastal ocean days.

  • Note that any single day cannot be counted as both inland and near coastal.

Section III Signature and Verification

Notice that in the title of this section it states Applicant Read Before Signing. It is highly recommended that the applicant do this.

Vessel owners attesting to their own experience

Vessel owners may attest to their own sea service experience by providing proof of ownership. Examples of proof of ownership includes; A copy of the Certificate of Documentation for USCG documented vessels. Or a copy of the state registration for vessels that do not have a COD.

Owner, operator, or master

Except for vessel owners attesting to their own experience; the vessel owner, operator, or master must sign this form to document the applicants experience.


In conclusion, if you have any questions that are not answered please contact us. Remember, our business is helping mariners. Selling courses is just what we do to stay in business.

Additional application form help pages.

MMC Application form 719B

Physical Exam (form 719K) and Drug Screening (form 719P)