How Do I Renew My Mate Or Master Of Towing Endorsement If I Didn’t Sail Much In The Last 5 Years?

Renew your Towing Endorsement even with limited sailing. Dive into the Renewal TOAR and get expert guidance for a smooth process.

4 mins read・Jun 29, 2023
On this page

Guest Blog by Capt. Doug Pine, USCG Designated Examiner for the Towing Endorsements

Has the USCG denied your hard-won Towing Endorsement renewal? You are going to need to take a “Renewal TOAR” for the route(s) you hold Towing Endorsements on.

The Renewal TOAR, as we call it, requires that you be assessed on the tasks in Part D of the TOAR for the route(s) you hold towing endorsements on. It’s a practical demonstration of maneuvering and handling aboard a towing vessel. You probably remember doing these for your original TOAR. The maneuvering assessments must be conducted either on board a towing vessel, in a simulator, or by a combination of the two in the presence of and to the satisfaction of a USCG approved DE (designated examiner).

How do I know if I need to complete a Renewal TOAR?

Most people find this out when they’re told by the NMC that they’re unable to renew their towing endorsement. If you can’t document 360 days of seatime in the last 5 years on any type of vessel where you regularly participated in training including fire and emergency drills you will need a Renewal TOAR. Is this you? Keep reading!

How to get your Renewal TOAR signed off by a DE

You will need to complete the maneuvering assessments found in USCG NVIC 3-16(CH-5) specifically for the route(s) that are authorized on your MMC.

If you have a Great Lakes/Inland endorsement, you complete the Great Lakes/Inland TOARs. Western Rivers? The Western Rivers TOARs. Near Coastal/Oceans? You complete those.

Any and all of the  assessments can be conducted either on board a towing vessel, in a simulator, or by a combination of the two.

It’s important to note that the NMC requires the assessments to be signed off by a USCG approved Designated Examiner for the Towing Endorsements. Each DE has an approval letter.

Ask to see it beforehand and double check that it's still valid AND that the DE is approved to assess for the route you need before they sign any assessments in your Renewal TOAR.

The NMC will kick back your application if anyone other than a currently approved USCG DE has signed off your assessments. If you’re having to complete these maneuvering assessments to get your towing endorsement back you could go to work on a tug as a Training Mate or AB to get your Renewal TOAR completed, but I will warn you that out in the real world, completing the maneuvering assessments can take forever.

I had a Training Mate aboard my tug once who had been in the company’s training program for about a year and a half because he wasn’t able to get the maneuvering assessments signed off! So I filled him in on what to do, and I’m filling you in too.

Don’t despair. You have places to go to get the maneuvering assessments signed off, each of which take just one day to complete. On the West Coast, Seattle TOAR Services, which I own and operate, does your assessments using a tug simulator in Seattle, WA. On the East Coast, Diamond Marine Services does TOAR assessments using a tug and barge out of Fall River, MA. Maritime TOAR Assessments  does TOAR assessments using a tug simulator in Middletown, RI.

Is the Renewal TOAR difficult to complete?

Not at all. You’ve done it before! You completed the maneuvering assessments as part of your original TOAR sign-offs. To jog your memory, here is a partial list of the assessments: You drive straight ahead on a constant gyro heading, then you do the same working astern. You make a 180 degree course change.

You dock the boat and un-dock the boat in no current, then do the same with current, both stemming and running with the current.

You do a bridge transit. You move a barge around. Think of this as an enjoyable refresher where you have the opportunity to do the fun stuff: driving tugboats!

Your DE will also have you do some of the tasks at night to verify that you can safely operate a towing vessel in both daytime and nighttime conditions.

In summary: Here’s the 5 steps to renew your Mate or Master of Towing endorsement without the required seatime

  1. Get your Renewal TOAR signed off by a USCG approved Designated Examiner (DE)
  2. Compile all of your other paperwork for renewing your USCG license
  3. Submit your application to the USCG including your signed off Renewal TOAR
  4. Take the Open Book Take Home Exam after your application is approved

You’re now prepared to renew your Mate or Master of Towing endorsement. If you have any questions about getting a Renewal TOAR done ashore, reach out to Seattle TOAR Services, Diamond Marine Services or Maritime TOAR Assessments. If you want to make the rest of your paperwork smooth and easy make sure to use MM-SEAS. Remember, the informed mariner is the successful mariner.

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.
Sign Up for Free
Always Free | $349 if you file with us (Includes fees)

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.

Recent Posts