An Able Seaman is a credentialed seaman which falls below officer but above ordinary seaman. Credentialed Able Seaman may fill roles such as a watch-stander, leader in the deck department, or numerous other responsibilities.
Able Seaman (AB) requires qualifying sea service and training. Below is a description of AB ratings and required sea service.
- AB Unlimited – 1,080 days of qualifying sea service on the deck of vessels operating on Great Lakes or ocean waters.
- AB Limited – 540 days deck service on vessels 100 GRT or over, not exclusive to rivers & smaller inland lakes of the U.S.
- AB Special – 360 days of qualifying sea service on vessels operating on any navigable waters of the US.
- AB Fishing – 180 days of deck service on any navigable waters of the U.S. “Combi” is not deck service (Valid only on fish processing vessels).
- AB OSV (Offshore Supply Vessel) – 180 days of qualifying sea service on the deck of vessels operating on any navigable waters.
- AB Sail – 180 days of deck service on sailing school, oceanographic research vessels powered primarily by sail, or equivalent sail vessels on any navigable waters of the U.S (Valid only on sailing school vessels.)
- AB MODU – 360 days of service on vessels 65 feet or over on any navigable waters of the U.S
License Requirements: The minimum requirements for Able Seaman Rating are:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Be a U.S. Citizen
- Speak English
- Be TWIC eligible
So how many exams are there? There are two exams and a practical demonstration of competency in Knot Tying and Splicing. If you fail one exam, you can retake that exam up to two more times. If you fail it a third time, you must repeat the class. The exams can be taken at one of our nationwide approved testing sites. Below are the descriptions of the exams and practical competency:
- Rules of the Road/Navigation: 50 questions: 70% minimum passing score.
- Deck General and Safety: 50 questions. 70% minimum passing score.
- Lifeboatman: 50 questions. 70% minimum passing score.
- Demonstration of competency in Knot Tying and Splicing – 10 knots in 15 minutes. Required Knots include Bowline, Square knot, Clove Hitch, Sheet Bend plus six additional knots selected by the evaluator. This is a practical assessment & any Master can sign-off on it.
- For your lifeboatman, you must complete a practical sign-off. Any Master can sign-off on the practical. Find the practical form here.
This course covers AB rating for vessels without lifeboats. If you work on a STCW covered vessel you will also need BT and Proficiency in Survival Craft.