Able Body Seaman, Ordinary Seaman, Able Seafarer Deck Information

With only a few exceptions a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) National
rating endorsement as OS or AB is required to work on all ocean going
commercial vessels of greater than 100 gross tons.

  • Ordinary Seaman is an entry level rating that applies to both deck and
    engine departments. This rating that does not require any sea service
    experience or training courses.

To qualify for an OS the applicant must demonstrate that they are physically fit
for duty, pass a USCG/DOT Drug Screening, and complete the application
form requesting the National Rating of OS. After gaining the required
experience the mariner may advance from OS to Able Seaman (deck
department) or Qualified Member of the Engine Department (QMED).

  • Able Body Seaman or Able Seaman is an MMC National deck rating
    that is the equal to journeyman. This MMC deck rating requires
    demonstration of knowledge of the Rules of the Road, navigation,
    seamanship, and safety; and a practical demonstration of marlinespike
    seamanship skills. To qualify as AB the applicant must also complete an
    approved Proficiency in Survival Craft Training course for the rating of
    either Lifeboatman or Lifeboatman Limited.

The MMC National AB rating that the applicant is issued depends on their
qualifying experience. Advancement from one AB rating to another is based on
qualifying sea service experience alone, no additional exams or skill
demonstrations are required. The professional requirements for the National
AB ratings are published in Title 46 CFR Parts 12.401 through 12.409:

  • AB Unlimited requires 1080 days of qualifying sea service experience
    on the deck of vessels operating on ocean waters.

  • AB Limited requires 540 days of qualifying sea service experience on
    the deck of vessels greater than 100 gross tons operating on ocean
    waters.

  • AB Special requires 360 days of qualifying sea service experience on
    vessels operating on the federally navigable inland waters of the US or
    on ocean waters.

  • AB Fishing requires 180 days of qualifying sea service experience on
    the deck of vessels operating on ocean waters or the federally
    navigable inland waters of the US.

  • AB OSV (Offshore Supply Vessel) requires 180 days of qualifying sea
    service experience on the deck of vessels operating on ocean waters or
    on the federally navigable inland waters of the US.

  • AB Sail requires 180 days of qualifying sea service experience on the
    deck of sailing vessels operating on ocean waters or on the federally
    navigable inland waters of the US.

Able Seafarer Deck

The 2010 Manila Amendments to the STCW convention established an STCW
endorsement equivalent to the MMC Rating of Able Seaman. This
endorsement is called Able Seafarer Deck. US mariners holding a the rating
endorsement AB should check to see if they also qualify for this new STCW
endorsement.

Courses, Checklists, and Related Information

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Portland, Oregon

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Columbia Pacific Maritime
Dennis A. Degner (c) 2015