Posted by: towmasters | December 24, 2008

The Tugboat Hawespipe & Other Routes To The Wheelhouse.

Numerous e-mail queries indicate that there is still confusion on the routes to the wheelhouse of a tug or towboat. Hopefully this will spell it out clearly and simply so that everyone will understand it.

Path #1: Total Greenhorn

1. Start out working on deck as an O/S Deckhand and put in a minimum of 1 year of 12-hour days, which means 2 years of total elapsed calendar time (including your time off) working an equal-time schedule or 1 year & 6 months on a 2-for-1 schedule. ***Note: up to 4 months, or 33.3%, of the required 1 year of 12-hour days may have been acquired on vessels other than towing vessels.***

2. This will qualify you to take the written test for Apprentice Mate/Steersman of Towing Vessels (AM/S), which is technically a license (at least for now) but is really only the functional equivalent of a learner’s permit. The holder of this “license” cannot be left unattended at the wheel: a licensed master or mate/pilot must be directly supervising them at all times.***Note: using this progression path you only have to test once. The AM/S written test is the full-blown master’s exam: pass it and all further advancements will be earned by acquiring the required sea-service and getting the appropriate Towing Officers Assessment Record (TOAR) signed off.***

3. The next step is Mate/Pilot of Towing Vessels: once you have the AM/S “license” you need additional sea service of at least 8 months of 12-hour days serving as an apprentice and undergoing wheelhouse training all the while. This works out to calendar time of 1 year & 4 months on an equal-time schedule and 1 year on a 2-for-1 schedule. You must also complete one of three different TOAR’s (Oceans/Near CoastalGreat Lakes/InlandWestern Rivers) depending upon which route you are trying for. Basic & Advanced Firefighting as per 46 CFR § 11.205(d)(3) for Oceans and Near Coastal licenses (any service upon ocean waters which are defined as the waters seaward of the Boundary Lines as desribed in 46 CFR – Part 7), 1st Aid & CPR as per 46 CFR § 11.205(e), and Radar Observer (Unlimited, Inland Waters & GIWW, or Rivers, depending on what route endorsement you’re seeking) as per 46 CFR § 15.815(c) complete the training & certification requirements.

4. Master of Towing Vessels is the last stop. A Mate or Pilot needs additional sea service of 1 year of 12-hour days in that capacity. This works out to calendar time of 2 years on an equal-time schedule and 1 year & 6 months on a 2-for-1 schedule.

Total minimum elapsed calendar time to Master of Towing Vessels on an equal-time schedule is 5 years & 4 months and on the 2-for-1 schedule it is 4 years. Keep in mind that this is how long it will take to meet the minimum sea time requirements, not actually get the license, which will add at least a few months to this time.

Path #2: Lateraling From Other Sectors With Licenses of MORE Than 200 GRT

If you already hold a license as Master, Mate or First Class Pilot of vessels greater than 200 GRT (500/1,600/Unlimited) you need the following:

  • Sea-service of 20 12-hour days (30 8-hour days) of “training and observation” in the wheelhouse of towing vessels for an endorsement for Oceans, Near Coastal or Great Lakes/Inland routes. For a Western Rivers route endorsement you would need 60 12-hour days (90 8-hour days).
  • Complete the appropriate TOAR. ***Note: there is no written test.***

Path #3: Lateraling From Other Sectors With A Master’s License of 200 GRT or LESS

If you already hold a license as Master of vessels of 200 GRT or less (200/100/50 GRT) you need the following:

  • Prior sea-service of 2 years of 12-hour days (3 years of 8-hour days) while serving as Master under the authority of your license. This works out to calendar time of 4 years on an equal-time schedule or 3 years on a 2-for-1 schedule.
  • Sea-service of 20 12-hour days (30 8-hour days) of “training and observation” in the wheelhouse of towing vessels for an endorsement for Oceans, Near Coastal or Great Lakes/Inland routes. For a Western Rivers route endorsement you would need 60 12-hour days (90 8-hour days).
  • Pass the Apprentice Mate/Steersman written examination on towing subjects.
  • Complete the appropriate TOAR.
  • Attend Basic & Advanced Firefighting training for  any service upon ocean waters.
  • Obtain certification as Radar Observer (Unlimited, Inland Waters & GIWW, or Rivers, depending on the route endorsement you’re seeking).

This post is meant to serve as a clear explanation of the available paths of advancement for Towing Vessel Officers under the current federal regulations contained in 46 CFR – Part 11. The Master of Towing Vessels Association does not in any way condone the use of Paths #2 or #3 until such time as the Coast Guard sees fit to revise the regulations to require substantially more towing vessel-specific sea-time, as per our recommendations. These paths can and will create what we’ve dubbed the 30-Day Wonder, which weakens the professional experience standards for towing officers and can only be bad for our industry in the long run. We hope that one day wiser minds will prevail.

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Responses

  1. […] The Tugboat Hawespipe & Other Routes To The Wheelhouse. « Master … […]

  2. […] Note: for a very detailed look at the “hawsepipe” route of advancement that still remains open for towing vessel officers see The Tugboat Hawsepipe & Other Routes To The Wheelhouse. […]


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