U.S. Coast Guard License / Credential Requirements (Able Seaman)
These general prerequisites should be reviewed before applying for any U.S. Coast Guard license/credential. This is recommended so you don't spend your time and money pursuing a license that you don't qualify for. For full information on credential requirements, click here to access the U.S. National Maritime Center's website.
But please, don't rule yourself out on your own if you have any questions at all about whether you qualify for a license. Call us at 619-263-1638 and one of our friendly student services advisors will answer your questions.
Prerequisites for Able Seaman
Able Seaman (AB) is a deck rating that requires qualifying experience, exams and approved training. The AB rating you receive will be dependent on your qualifying sea service experience.
- AB Unlimited requires 1080 days of deck service on Oceans or Great Lakes.
- AB Limited requires 540 days of deck service on vessels of 100 GRT or more, not exclusive to rivers & smaller inland lakes of the U.S.
- AB Special requires 360 days of deck service on navigable waters of the U.S.
- AB OSV (Offshore Supply Vessel) requires 180 days of deck service on navigable waters of the U.S.
- AB Sail requires 180 days of deck service on sailing school vessels, oceanographic research vessels powered primarily by sail or equivalent sail vessels on any navigable waters of the U.S.
- AB Fishing requires 180 days of deck service, not as a processor, in any navigable waters of the U.S.
Lifeboatman is a required all Able Seaman ratings. To qualify as lifeboatman the applicant must complete an approved "Proficiency in Survival Craft" course.
Basic Safety Training (STCW-95) Completion of a basic safety training course is required on all Able Seaman ratings. This course consists of CPR/First Aid, Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities, Personal Survival and Basic Firefighting.
RFPNW (Rating Forming Part of a Navigational Watch) is an STCW endorsement required for Able Seaman who are part of the Navigation Watch on sea going vessels of greater than 200 gross registered tons (GRT). To receive this rating the applicant must complete an approved course or meet the training and assessment requirements for the rating. Here is a link to the assessments at the National Maritime Center