Able Seaman (Any Rating)

Able Seaman (Any Rating)


5 day | 40 hour
Able Seaman Course 

Able Seaman (Any Rating)


See Below For More Info

Course Description

An able seaman (AB) is a naval rating of the deck department of a merchant ship with more than two years’ experience at sea and considered “well acquainted with his duty”. An AB may work as a watchstander, a day worker, or a combination of these roles. Once a sufficient amount of sea time is acquired, then the AB can apply to take a series of courses/examinations to become certified as an officer.

AB Unlimited
Requires three years service on deck on vessels operating on the oceans or the Great Lakes.

AB Limited
Requires 18 months service on deck in vessels of 100 gross tons or more which operate in a service not exclusively confined to the rivers and smaller inland lakes of the United States.

AB Special
Requires 12 months service on deck on vessels operating on the oceans, or the navigable waters of the United States including the Great Lakes.

Requires six months service on deck on vessels operating on the oceans, or the navigable waters of the United States including the Great Lakes.

AB Sail
Requires six months service on deck on sail or auxiliary sail vessels operating on the oceans or the navigable waters of the United States including the Great Lakes.

Able Seaman Watchstander

At sea an AB watchstander’s duties include standing watch as helmsman and lookout. A helmsman is required to maintain a steady course, properly execute all rudder orders and communicate utilizing navigational terms relating to heading and steering. A watchstander may be called upon to stand security-related watches, such as a gangway watch or anchor watch while the ship is not underway.

Able Seaman Dayworker

An AB day worker performs general maintenance, repair, sanitation and upkeep of material, equipment, and areas in the deck department. This can include maintenance of the ship’s metal structures such as chipping, scraping, cleaning, priming, and painting. Areas frequently in need of such maintenance include the hull, decks, superstructure, cargo gear, and smoke stack. Day workers also frequently perform maintenance on lifeboats, rescue boats and liferafts, and emergency and damage control gear. For many vessels, being a dayworker is a position granted to senior AB’s, since it generally allows more time for rest and relaxation.

General duties of an AB

An AB may be called on to use emergency, lifesaving, damage control, and safety equipment. AB’s perform all operations connected with the launching of lifesaving equipment. An AB is expected to be able to operate deck machinery, such as the windlass or winches while mooring or unmooring, and to operate cargo gear.

Able seamen require advanced training, including lifeboatman certification.
The ship’s boatswain, if carried, is typically a senior AB. The boatswain is in charge of the unlicensed deck crew, and reports directly to the chief mate.

Choosing the right Able Seaman course to receive your endorsement can be a bit tricky. Not all Able Seaman classes are equal. You want to be sure of a couple things, especially if you are new to the industry.

Since 2014 all Able Seaman must have some sort of lifeboat training in order to receive your Able Seaman Certification. The U.S. Coast Guard will not issue an Able Seaman rating unless the lifeboat training requirements is met.

In years past, only mariners who were seeking out an Able Seaman Unlimited rating, had to have Lifeboat Training (Proficiency in Survival Craft).

Now ANY rating of Able Seaman must have some sort of lifeboat training.

Follow these steps BEFORE choosing an Able Seaman Course.

  1. Ask if the course satisfies the requirements for ANY RATING of Able Seaman. If not, do not attend that class. Upgrading from AB Special to AB Unlimited will require additional testing if you attend this class.
  2. Ask if the class satisfies the testing requirements for lifeboat training. Many schools have not changed their curriculum since 2014 and have not added those requirements. You may have to actually test for your Lifeboat Limited at the Coast Guard Regional Exam Center, AND find somewhere to take lifeboat assessments.
  3. Not all Able Seaman are required to hold Proficiency in Survival Craft, Some schools will tell you that you must take this course, NOT TRUE! This is just a ploy to get more money out of you.
    1. Proficiency in Survival Craft is mandatory ONLY for mariners who work on vessels with LIFEBOATS.
    2. Lifeboat Limited Assessments can be given to the mariner by a Qualified Assessor either at the school or on your own vessel. Look up NVIC 04-14 for more details

Choosing the right able seaman course doesn’t have to be hard, you just need to do a little homework and ask questions. If the school cannot answer these questions, you should really be cautious about attending this class.

For more information, Check out our Able Seaman with Lifeboat Course

Time served in certain training programs and school ships may be substituted for the time of service listed above. Special certificates of service are available for able seaman, Great Lakes—18 months service; able seaman, any waters—12 months; able seaman, tugs and towboats—any waters; able seaman, bays and sounds—12 months, vessels 500 gross tons or less not carrying passengers; and able seaman, seagoing barges—12 months.