AFAIK the USCG no longer confers or grants a "license" and it never conferred a "captain's" license, no matter how you spell it.
They did grant you a nice piece of paper called a license that was qualified with the actual rating, e.g. OUPV, mate, master etc.
Whatever your rating was, [what the USCG gave you] was not a license, it was Master or mate [credential or certificate]
Not sure about the mate endorsement, that might have changed with the rest of the terminology when they did away with a piece of paper "license" and started issuing passport type booklets known as a MMC, Merchant Mariner's Credential.
I know these changed some, but this is what I have gone by since my first [credential] in 1990.
Tonnage and geographical limitations [are] the geographical limitation [which] used to be based on your actual area of experience, but [these] were changed to just any waters, domestic near coastal.
OUPV (operator of uninspected passenger vessel) [requires] 360 days sea time, [and is] commonly referred to as a "six pack license" because you were limited to carrying six or less passengers on a vessel that was not inspected by the USCG.
Mate [requires] 360 days sea time, and authorizes [the holder] to be in command of an OUPV or second-in-command of an inspected vessel
Master [authorizes the holder to be] first-in-command of an inspected vessel up to the tonnage rating.
You can roughly equate a 100-ton limit to your average New Jersey head boat carrying 12 to 100-passengers.
[Transportation worker identify cards or] TWIC's are no longer required If you will not be subject to any secured port or designated secure area.
When the TWIC first came out it was a requirement for new or renewal MMC. The USCG eventually relaxed the requirements and issued a policy letter exempting the requirement if you had no other reason to need it, such as a charter boat operator.
Coast Guard Policy Letter 11-15https://www.uscg.mil/nmc/twic/pdfs/twic_809_policy_letter.pdf
Jim mentioned the requirement for a 50-ton ticket. If you had enough time on the ContinuousWave motor vessel, you could have applied and received a Master, Great Lakes 25 ton [rating]. You do your five years of operation "within the scope" of your MMC (25 tons or less) and you would receive an upgrade to 50-tons just for the asking on your renewal. Same with the next renewal. Although that would require X amount of days on board a 25 to 50 ton vessel.
And to clarify, the USCG's definition of ton-tonnage, it has nothing to do with weight. It is a measurement of below deck storage space.
For example, my 42 Post Sportfisher was a USCG documented a 30 ton vessel, but it only weighed 18,000 pounds.
jimh wrote:As for getting a USCG Master's License, it may or may not document familiarity with the rules. There are plenty of collisions between boats operated by captains holding a USCG Master's License. Also, Master's licenses come in various ratings and for various waters. There are ratings for six-passenger uninspected vessels, and there are ratings for all tonnages, all oceans. That is a big range of authority for the holder of "a captions license" (sic).
Sitting for the test means nothing more then you passed the (30 questions) Rules of the Road section at a 90-percent correct or better. Although to actually pass that test under the pressure of a USCG officer watching over you, usually meant you had to be able to practice test at 100-percent. Anyone with a new first-issued [rating] probably is on top of their rules knowledge, for a period of time.
There are four modules to the exam and their passing grades:
--Rules of the Road 90%
--Deck General 70%
Plotting can be fun or a nightmare, you have to know set and drift among other things.
jimh wrote:...I also realized that even though I had meet all the qualifications to obtain a Master's License from the USCG, I probably could not meet the necessary time at sea needed to renew the license. Nor did I anticipate ever actually gaining full-time employment with the license. All I was going to do with the license was frame it. However, the time I spent studying the navigation rules was a good investment in increasing my own knowledge and seamanship, as was the medical emergency and CPR training I underwent.
Your renewal sea time has changed as well. If you do not have the required sea time at time of renewal, you can sit for an open book test, which is mailed to you. You mail it back when finished. And you have 90 days to complete the tests.
The renewal tests are Master or Mate NMT 200GT, any waters refresher (20 questions) and Rules of the Road any appropriate tonnage, international and inland (30 questions). Both tests require a passing score of 90 or better.
First aid and CPR is only required at the initial issuance. For renewals only if it is deemed necessary for your industry.