The Apprentice Mate Towing (Steersman) credential allows its holder to work in a training capacity onboard a towing vessel. The Apprentice Mate may not stand a watch alone. The credential is issued with route endorsements for Oceans, Near-Coastal, Inland, Western Rivers and “Limited.” For towing licenses, “limited” means a license to operate a towing vessel of less than 200 gross tons limited to a local area within the Great Lakes, Inland waters, or Western Rivers designated by the Officer in Charge of Marine Inspection


NMC Checklist Apprentice Mate (Steersman)
CFR Reference: 46 CFR 11.466

RECENCY: 90 days in the past 3 years on vessels of appropriate tonnage


DECK EXAMINATION GUIDE:  At this link, you will find two Deck Examination Guides.  If your qualifying service for the license began before March 24, 2014, you may opt to be examined under the procedures of the old Deck Examination Guide.  The old guide’s examinations are significantly less difficult in most cases than the new guide’s.
Exam Structure Sheets for the Apprentice Mate are as follows:

  • ESS 5-9 (Oceans)
  • ESS 5-10 (Near Coastal)
  • ESS 5-11 (Great Lakes & Inland)
  • ESS 5-12 (Western Rivers)

To Apply for the Credential

Application Procedure

Credential Assistance

If you need help determining your eligibility or completing your application, please email us at Credential Assistance.


Mariners preparing for these credential examinations can begin on almost any Monday.  The course of study lasts from 2-3 weeks and is a combination of lectures and tutorials.  The tuition is good for one year.