How do I document my sea time?

Applying for a license? Before taking a course, you should know whether or not you meet the sea service requirements for the license you hope to obtain. In addition, knowing how your administration documents sea time is important.

  • If you are applying for a USCG license, you should determine what the USCG requirements are. Scroll down for more information.
  • If you are an international seafarer looking for an STCW license, you should communicate with the flag administration that you hope obtain your license from. Northeast Maritime Institute is the official training provider for the Commonwealth of Dominica Maritime Administration. International seafarers who take NMI courses can receive a Dominica license or endorsement. Visit www.dominica-registry.com for more information. 

USCG Sea Service Documentation

Documenting your sea service with the USCG is relatively straight-forward. It is important to always keep track of your sea time using a log book. If you are not the Master of your vessel, make sure to have your captain or superior sign your log book to validate your sea service. That way, when you are applying for your license or upgrading, you have your sea time logged and ready to go. 

Observe the following when submitting your application to the National Maritime Center:

 

For documenting sea time on vessels less than 200 Gross Tons, use this form here.

  • Remember that you must complete a separate Small Vessel Sea Service Form for each vessel you served aboard.
  • If you are the owner of a vessel on which you are claiming service, you must also submit proof of ownership for that vessel. Acceptable proof of ownership may include: 1. Title 2. Registration (state registered vessels) 3. Certificate of Documentation (U.S. Coast Guard registered vessels) 4. Proof of insurance (which clearly identifies the vessel) 5. Bill(s) of sale. 
  • If you are signing as the owner of a corporation that owns the vessel, you must include a copy of proof of ownership of the company, such as a copy of the articles of incorporation. (See 46 CFR 10.232.)
  • Photographs or imagery of vessels are not acceptable as proof of ownership. 
  • If you are not the owner of the vessel, someone with knowledge of your service must attest to its accuracy and validity in the proper location on the form by signing it and completing the associated required information.

 

For documenting sea time on vessels more than 200 Gross Tons, you will typically be issued discharge papers or documentation by the Master of your vessel. The following qualifies.

  • Certificates of discharge
  • Letters on official letterhead indicating the vessel details, dates of service, waters of
    service, and position(s) served in
  • Other official documents such as service logs or discharge books from marine
    companies.

 

Those unfamiliar with the process of documenting sea service might ask the following questions:

What counts as sea service?

  • Sea service is a measure of a mariner’s lifetime experience on boats, whether recreational,
    commercial, or military. It may be counted from the day a mariner turns age 16 and
    accumulates over his or her lifetime.
  • A day of sea service is any day that a mariner served upon a vessel in an assigned position in
    either the deck or engineering department of a vessel (not a passenger). The position may
    include duties such as: handling lines, being a lookout, steering the boat, and other
    navigational or propulsion functions.
  • Sea service never expires and may be reused when applying for new endorsements. It is the
    mariner’s responsibility to keep copies of all sea service records.

What counts as a “day”?

  • A “day,” as defined by the regulations, is 8 hours of watch-standing or day-working, not to
    include overtime.
  • Only on vessels of less than 100 gross registered tons (GRT): Credit for a full day
    will only be given for service of 4 hours or more (See 46 CFR 10.107, definition of “Day”).
    No credit will ever be given for days in which less than 4 hours were served.
  • For the purposes of defining sea service requirements, the Coast Guard considers 1 month
    as 30 days, and 1 year as 12 months (or 360 days).

When can I claim time-and-a-half credit?

  • For most vessels, no additional credit may be received for periods served over 8 hours.
    However, on vessels authorized by 46 U.S.C. 8104, 46 CFR 15.705, and the vessel’s manning
    requirements to operate a two-watch system, a 12-hour working day may in some cases
    be creditable as 1 1/2 days of service.
  • If you work on a vessel operating with a Coast Guard authorized six-on-six-off watch system
    with only two watch standing officers (i.e., certain crew boats, supply boats, towboats and
    some commercial fishing boats), you may claim 1 1/2 days for each 12-hour day worked.
  • For more information on this topic, please see 12 Hour Day / Time-and-a-Half Credit
 
For more information regarding documenting your sea service with the USCG, visit the link here.