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How to Log Hours for Captains License

Updated: Nov 6

Logging the hours to get your Captains License means keeping track of your personal time on the water.


Make sure that you are personally logging your hours that you are working on vessels. When you are issued your official documentation of sea service you want to double check that the numbers match up. You are the main person who really cares about logging your hours for your Captains License.


The correct way to log your hours Captains Licenses is to gather your official documentation of sea service by filling a out CG-719S, a CG-718A or a Sea Service Letter on Company Letterhead.





The official documentation of sea service is issued in three ways for civilians:

  • For vessels less than 200 GRT you will use the CG-719S (Small Vessel Sea Service Form) which the captain, owner or vessel manager can issue for you. If you own your boat you can complete the form for yourself.



  • For all other vessels you will be issued a Sea Service Letter on Company letterhead that exactly follows 46 CFR 10.232. These can be issued from the ship’s master, owner, vessel manager or office staff.

How to Log Hours for Captains License Deep Dive


Now that you have a general idea of how to keep track of your sea time we will go in deep to explain the details for each type of official documentation for sea service.


Vessels Less than 200 GRT


For vessels less than 200 GRT you will use the CG-719S (Small Vessel Sea Service Form) which the captain, owner or vessel manager can issue for you. If you own your boat you can complete the form for yourself.


For vessels under 100 GRT you must be underway for at least 4 hrs in a day for it to count as a “day”. You are going to want to keep track of your own sea days on your phone, a notebook or even a calendar. When you are ready to obtain, upgrade or renew your captains license you need to submit a CG-719S (Small Vessel Sea Service Form) with your sea time. Each CG-719S (Small Vessel Sea Service Form) can accept 5 years worth of sea service.


Here’s a quick Youtube Video which will help you fill out the CG-719S!



If you own the vessel you are gathering sea service on

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 one of the following:

  • Title

  • Registration (state registered vessels)

  • Certificate of Documentation (U.S. Coast Guard registered vessels)

  • Proof of insurance (which clearly identifies the vessel)

  • Bill(s) of sale.

If you hold STCW endorsements and/ or Radar Observer.


If your vessel regularly holds regular fire, emergency, and abandon ship drills and/ or you are serving in a position on that vessel which you carried out Bridge Watch duties in a position that routinely uses radar for navigation and collision avoidance purposes.


You will need a separate memo on official letterhead signed by the captain, owner or vessel manager which states the start date and the end date of your service as well as the following statement:


YOUR NAME carried out Bridge Watch duties in a position that routinely uses radar for navigation and collision avoidance purposes. VESSEL NAME is required to conduct regular fire, emergency, and abandon ship drills. YOUR NAME’s service includes ongoing participation in training and drills relevant to Basic Training.”


This is the easiest way to prove this to the USCG and it is needed if you are renewing STCW Basic Training and/ or Radar Observer.


Large Commercial Vessels

For large commercial vessels you will be issued a CG-718A (Certificate of Discharge Form). This is issued from the ship's master every time you depart the vessel. The CG-718A (Certificate of Discharge Form) will list the day you reported to the ship and the day you depart from the ship. You get a day of credit for every day that is listed on the CG-718A (Certificate of Discharge Form).


For all Other Vessels

For all other vessels you will be issued a Sea Service Letter on Company letterhead that exactly follows 46 CFR 10.232. These can be issued from the ship’s master, owner, vessel manager or office staff.


If you hold STCW endorsements and/ or Radar Observer.

If your vessel regularly holds regular fire, emergency, and abandon ship drills and/ or you are serving in a position on that vessel which you carried out Bridge Watch duties in a position that routinely uses radar for navigation and collision avoidance purposes.


You will need the following statement on your sea service letter:

YOUR NAME carried out Bridge Watch duties in a position that routinely uses radar for navigation and collision avoidance purposes. VESSEL NAME is required to conduct regular fire, emergency, and abandon ship drills. YOUR NAME’s service includes ongoing participation in training and drills relevant to Basic Training.”


No matter what the letter must always include all of the the following information:

  • Vessel Name

  • Official Number

  • Vessel Type

  • Motor

  • Sail

  • Tank Ship or Barge - There are four main types of Tankers

  • Tank Ship (liquified gasses)

  • Tank Ship (dangerous liquids)

  • Tank Barge (liquified gasses)

  • Tank Barge (dangerous liquids)

  • Towing

  • High Speed Craft

  • Offshore Installation - There are three types of Offshore Installations

  • Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit -There are two types of MODUs

  • Bottom Bearing Unit

  • Surface Unit - There are three types of MODU Surface Units

  • Self Propelled

  • Propulsion Assisted

  • Non-Self-Propelled

  • Floating Offshore Installation - There are two types of Floating Offshore Installations

  • Active Ballast

  • Passive Ballast

  • Fixed Platform

  • Freight

  • Liftboat

  • Propulsion Type - There are three types of of Propulsion the USCG recognizes

  • Motor

  • Steam

  • Gas Turbine

  • Tonnage -

  • GRT (Always ask for GRT. It makes your life the easiest with the USCG)

  • GT

  • NRT

  • Engine Horsepower

  • The Beginning Date of Service

  • The End Date of Service

  • Number of Underway Days

  • Number of Days

  • 8hr or 12 hr days

  • There are a few very special vessels which are listed in listed in 46 U.S.C. 8104 and 46 CFR 15.705, or authorized by their COI, who are authorized to operate a two-watch system, a 12-hour working day may be creditable as 1.5 “days” of service only on those vessels. If the vessel is only authorized by their COI we strongly recommend you provide the COI for that vessel every time you interact with the USCG for licensing.


The types of vessels listed in listed in 46 U.S.C. 8104 and 46 CFR 15.705
  • Towing vessels and Barges who are engaged on a voyage of less than 600 miles and the licensed individuals and crewmembers are divided, when at sea, into at least 2 watches can receive time and a half credit for every sea day they work 12 hours.


  • Offshore Supply Vessels that are at least 6,000 gross tons who are engaged on a voyage of less than 600 miles, and the licensed individuals and crewmembers are divided, when at sea, into at least 2 watches can receive time and a half credit for every sea day they work 12 hours.


  • Fish Processing Vessels who entered into service before January 1, 1988, and are more than 1,600 gross tons and the licensed individuals and crewmembers are divided, when at sea, into at least 2 watches can receive time and a half credit for every sea day they work 12 hours.


  • Fish Processing Vessels who entered into service after December 31, 1987, and has more than 16 individuals on board primarily employed in the preparation of fish or fish products and the licensed individuals and crewmembers are divided, when at sea, into at least 2 watches the licensed individuals and crew members can receive time and a half credit for every sea day they work 12 hours.


  • If you are a cadet sailing on a training ship furnished by the Maritime Administration under 46 CFR 310.4, a day may be creditable as 1.5 days of service.

There are many examples of companies and government agencies (especially the NOAA Fleet) issuing sea service letters with 12 hr days when it is not authorized. The USCG National Maritime Center will typically only give the mariner one sea day for each day worked no matter what the letter says. We encourage mariners to be realistic and understand the rules that they are working with. We would never want a mariner to have obtained a license they were not qualified for due to illegal paperwork from their employers and mistakes by the evaluators at the USCG National Maritime Center.


MM-SEAS is here to help!


If you need any help or have more questions about sea service use the “Ask us anything maritime” above!


We built MM-SEAS to be with you every step of the way! The software makes the merchant mariner credentialing process simple.


We’re on your side--and trust us--you got this!!!!

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