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  • Nate Gilman

What Courses Do I Need to Renew My Captains License With 360 Sea Days?

Updated: Mar 8

Taking the wrong courses to renew your USCG License is a waste of money! By following these simple steps you will always take the right courses.



You will need all of your sea service documents from the last five years. Make sure you have them all from every vessel you’ve worked on. You will also need your USCG License which has every National and International (STCW) endorsement you hold on it. If you hold Master of Towing, Mate (Pilot) of Towing or Tankerman endorsements we will cover the additional requirements in a separate blog post called Renewing my Master of Towing, Mate (Pilot) of Towing or Tankerman endorsements!


To determine which courses you need to take to renew your license you will follow these steps (MM-SEAS does this automatically for you):




  1. Count up how many creditable sea days you have in the last 5 years.

  2. If you have over 360 days in the last 5 years you do not need any courses to renew your USCG National endorsements. You will have to take some courses if you hold International (STCW) endorsements.

  3. If you have less than 360 days in the last 5 years, renewing your USCG National endorsements is as simple as an open book take home test for each endorsement! You will have to take courses if you also hold Radar Observer, Tankerman endorsements, Proficiency in Survival Craft (PSC endorsements) and/ or International (STCW) endorsements. If you hold a Master of Towing or Mate (Pilot) of Towing you will need to complete Part D of the published TOAR for your route or a course that meets Part D in addition to the open book take home tests.

As you continue reading, think of determining which courses you need for renewals as two paths. Path one is for folks who have more than 360 creditable sea days in the last 5 years. Path two is for everyone else.


Let’s Figure out Exactly What Courses You Need to Take to Renew Your USCG License


To determine which courses you need to take to renew your license you need to first Count up how many creditable sea days you have in the last 5 years. (MM-SEAS does this automatically for you).



Let’s Dive into Explaining Creditable Sea Days Before We Move On.


We’ve done two blog post’s on sea time Sea Service for your USCG License Defined and How to Log Hours for Captains License but the main idea is you get a sea day for every day you are away from the pier for over 4 hours.


You do want to make sure that you are also getting credit for radar and STCW 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.


The easiest way to do this is to make sure the following statement is on your Sea Service Letter on Company letterhead:


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.”


If you are using a CG719S small vessel sea service form 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.”


That being said, you do get sea time for vessels that rarely get underway.


For the Deck department this can be in two ways. 1) You have no underway sea service, in that case you can get credit for up to 3 years of service (1080 days only for renewal) under closely related service based on 46 CFR § 10.227 section (e)(1)(iv). 2) You have some underway sea service, in this case your service is creditable on a 3-for-1 basis (12 months of experience equals 4 months of creditable service) for up to 6 months of service credit based on 46 CFR § 10.232 section (e)(2)(ii).


For the Engine Department you obtain day for day service for up to 180 days for renewal of your MMC based on 46 CFR § 10.232 section (e)(1).


I Have More the 360 Creditable Sea Days in the Last 5 Years


Congratulations! You have been sailing a lot!


National Endorsement Renewal


To renew your national endorsement you literally just have to have the documentation of sea service that says you meet the requirements for renewal.

Radar Observer Endorsement Renewal


To renew your Radar Observer endorsement you literally just have to have the documentation of sea service that says you meet the requirements for renewal. Policy Letter 03-19 Radar Renewal lays out the rules very clearly.


This means a few different things. If you are using a CG719S small vessel sea service form you need to submit an additional memo on official letterhead from your ship or company that includes the following statement: “YOUR NAME carried out Bridge Watch duties in a position that routinely uses radar for navigation and collision avoidance purposes.”


If you are using Sea Service letters from your ship or company you need to make sure it includes the following statement: “YOUR NAME carried out Bridge Watch duties in a position that routinely uses radar for navigation and collision avoidance purposes.”


If you are using Certificates of Discharge as a master or a mate on a vessel type that is listed in Policy Letter 03-19 Radar Renewal than you are good to go!


If you are not able to produce the radar observer memo or get the sea service letter with the right statement on it you will need to take an original, refresher, or recertification Radar Observer course or have taught an original, refresher, or recertification Radar Observer course twice in the last 5 years.


International (STCW) Endorsement Renewal


To renew your international (STCW) endorsements with just a revalidation course you need to have the documentation of sea service that says you meet the requirements for renewal. NVIC 08-14 GUIDELINES FOR QUALIFICATION FOR STCW ENDORSEMENTS IN BASIC TRAINING (FORMERLY BASIC SAFETY TRAINING) lays out the rules very clearly.

You do want to make sure that you are also getting credit for STCW if your vessel regularly holds regular fire, emergency, and abandon ship drills.


The easiest way to do this is to make sure the following statement is on your Sea Service Letter on Company letterhead:


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.”


If you are using a CG719S small vessel sea service form 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:


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.”


With 360 days of creditable sea time for STCW renewal you only have to take Basic Training Revalidation which is the shorter course. You can opt in to take the longer courses of Basic Training Refresher or even take the original Basic Training course again. Not recommended you do it but you can if you would like!


If you are not able to produce the ongoing participation in training and drills relevant to Basic Training memo or get the sea service letter with the right statement on it you will need to take Basic Training Refresher or you can take the original Basic Training course again.

Advanced Firefighting Endorsement Renewal


To renew your advanced firefighting endorsement with just a revalidation course you need to have the documentation of sea service that says you meet the requirements for renewal. NVIC 09-14 GUIDELINES FOR QUALIFICATION FOR STCW ENDORSEMENTS FOR ADVANCED FIREFIGHTING lays out the rules very clearly.


You do want to make sure that you are also getting credit for Advanced Firefighting if your vessel regularly holds regular fire, emergency, and abandon ship drills.


The easiest way to do this is to make sure the following statement is on your Sea Service Letter on Company letterhead:


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.”


If you are using a CG719S small vessel sea service form 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:


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.”


With 360 days of creditable sea time for Advanced Firefighting renewal you only have to take Advanced Firefighting Revalidation which is the shorter course. You can opt in to take the longer courses of Advanced Firefighting Refresher or even take the original Advanced Firefighting course again. Not recommended you do it but you can if you would like!


If you are not able to produce the ongoing participation in training and drills relevant to Advanced Firefighting memo or get the sea service letter with the right statement on it you will need to take Advanced Firefighting Refresher or you can take the original Advanced Firefighting course again.


MM-SEAS Will Help Renew Your Captains License With 360 Sea Days of Creditable Sea Service


We understand that getting, upgrading and renewing your merchant mariner credential can be a frustrating experience.


This is why my team and I built MM-SEAS (www.mmseas.com). MM-SEAS makes the complicated licensing process for Captains, Deckhands, Mates and Engineers simple with an easy to use software that handles the entire USCG licensing process for your first license, renewals and upgrades for you, stores your paperwork, and tracks your sea days.


Visit the MM-SEAS team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube for more tips on license renewals and upgrades.


If you have questions about MM-SEAS, or the licensing process, shoot me a note at nate@mariner-credentials.com


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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