Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday Morning Mariner: Experience Requirements

US merchant mariners hear so much about training requirements that sea service, actual time on the job, often gets overlooked as a license requirement. Here's some comparisons between merchant mariner service requirements and those in other industries. Time requirements are expressed in hours, based on an eight-hour day as defined by the US Coast Guard. For example, a near coastal OUPV ("Six Pack") captain's license has a sea service requirement of 720 days, translated here as 5,720 hours.

US truck drivers (carrying a Commercial Driver License, or CDL) more than 26,000 lbs.: No experience requirement.

US train engineers: No experience requirement.

US commercial co-pilot: 250 hours (350 hours for regional carriers)

US air taxi captain: US airline transport pilot: 1,500 hours

US OUPV inland: 2,880 hours

US uninspected (1600 - 5000 grt) fishing vessel captain: 5,720 hours
Also master near coastal or oceans 200 grt

UK yacht captain 500gt: 7,200 hours.

US tug captain: 11, 520 hours.
Also master near coastal or oceans 1600 grt.

UK yacht captain 3000gt: 14,400 hours.

US or UK unlimited master: 17, 280 hours.

Some of the information comes from the "Ask Amy" column in the May 2010 edition of Dockwalk.


  1. Great article Rob. My brother is a retired USN helicopter pilot, and although I would never change jobs with him (I hate getting shot at), I always scoffed when he bragged about how many thousands of hours of flight time he has. My response, "I've got thousands of days, brother."
    - Jill Russell

  2. Another relevant point is that, especially for the more advanced licenses, the hours (days) required are of specific and varied types. It is highly unlikely that any unlimited master would acquire their ticket with only 17k hours. Over the years they would have spent extra time as 2nd mate, or hung onto an AB job while waiting for the right spot as a 3rd mate, or something similar.

    Excellent post.