How do I get my Ordinary Seaman rating?

Discover how to become an Ordinary Seaman with 7 easy steps. From getting your MMC to understanding duties, we guide you through the process

2 mins read・Jun 01, 2022
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An ordinary seaman (OS) is the lowest rating on a ship. This is an unlicensed position, and it requires no maritime experience. Ordinary seamen handle a variety of basic tasks, working towards becoming an Able Seaman.

The first step you need to take is getting a valid U.S. Merchant Marine Credential (MMC).

Coiled rope on deck.

You need to take care of these 7 easy steps to get your entry level MMC:

  1. You must be a US Citizen or alien admitted for permanent residence
  2. Hold or have applied for a TWIC
  3. Be at least 16 years old (with parental/guardian consent if under 18)
  4. Pass a drug test within 6 months (CG-719P)
  5. Must hold or be approved for Medical Certificate (CG-719K or CG-719KE)
  6. Must take the Merchant Mariners Oath in front of a Notary
  7. Pay Mariner's Fees (

Once you've completed those items, you'll complete and submit a CG-719B form. This is the MMC application form.

Note: Getting your MMC is not a guarantee of finding work. This is a certification that allows you to work in the merchant marine industry.

Ordinary seaman duties and responsibilities

Ordinary seamen are doing most of the grunt work around the ship. It's not glorious, but it's the path forward to becoming a licensed Able Seaman in the future. OS responsibilities include general maintenance, cleaning and sanitizing the ship, painting, loading and unloading cargo, and more.

As you gain more experience, you can expect more responsibilities.

How many Sea Days are needed?

There are no sea service requirements for entry level endorsements. Employers will typically want you to complete some basic maritime training before you start working.

What endorsements are included in an Entry Level Rating?

Ordinary Seaman, Wiper, and Steward’s Department (FH).

USCG license renewal assistance interface.

We hope this made your life a little easier and if you have other questions the MM-SEAS team is always here to help!

MM-SEAS is free to use on your own and if you need some more personalized help you can upgrade to MM-SEAS Pro inside of the site.

No matter what, when you are ready to submit your application, you can choose to have the MM-SEAS staff create a perfect application, handle the USCG application fees and work with the USCG on your behalf to resolve any issues for a flat fee of $349 or you can choose to submit on your own.

Pro MM-SEAS members get access to unlimited live 1 on 1 calls with one of our USCG Licensing Specialists. We've found that answering questions live with screen sharing in a video call makes both of our lives easier. Pro MM-SEAS members can access these features inside of MM-SEAS under License Guidance.

Need to renew, upgrade or get your first USCG license? We're here to help.

No matter if it is your first MMC, your second Upgrade or your fifth Renewal USCG Licensing is easy with MM-SEAS.
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About the author

Nate Gilman
Nate Gilman

Nate has over 15 years of professional maritime experience and has hawsepiped his way to a 3rd Mate Unlimited Endorsement with full STCW compliance. He is proud veteran of the NOAA Commissioned Corps.

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