Online Able Seaman (AB) Course image

Able Seaman

Course Access: Lifetime
Course Overview

Able Seaman Course

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.

Exam Modules

The three exam modules listed below make up the Able Seaman Course.

  • Navigation and Rules of the Road
  • Deck General/Safety
  • Marlinespike Seamanship Practical Demonstration

Class Materials

Everything needed for the Navigation and Rules of the Road as well as Deck General/Safety exam modules and final exams are included in the purchase price of the course and located in the online classroom.

The Marlinespike Seamanship Practical Demonstration requires a three strand line to demonstrate splicing and any line about four feet long for knot tying. The line we recommend for splicing is a three strand nylon line with electrical tape whipping as seen in the videos. For knot tying we recommend a double braid line about 4 feet long.

Online Final Examination 

Take the Final Examination Online. Contact us to schedule when you are ready.


The USCG qualifications an applicant must meet to hold an Able Seaman Deck Rating are presented below and based on the USCG Checklists for Able Seaman.

General Requirements

  • Must have U.S. Citizenship OR be an alien admitted for permanent
  • Must be at least age 18
  • Medical Certificate Requirement
    • Original – Must hold a valid Medical Certificate or be approved for
      Medical Certificate
    • Renewal, ROG, New Endorsement – Must hold an unexpired Medical
      Certificate or submit a Medical Certificate application
  • Drug Testing Compliant
  • Mariner Fees must be paid

Sea Service Requirements for Able Seaman Deck Rating

AB Unlimited
  • 1080 days deck service on Oceans or Great Lakes.
AB Limited
  • 540 days deck service on vessels of 100 GRT or more, not
    exclusive to rivers & smaller inland lakes of the U. S.
AB Special
  • 360 days deck service on navigable waters of the U. S.
  • 180 days deck service on navigable waters of the U. S.
AB Sail
  • 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
  • 180 days of deck service, not as a processor, on any navigable
    waters of the U.S. “Combi” is not deck service
  • 360 days of service on vessels 65 feet or over on any navigable
    waters of the U.S.

Requirement for all ABs


*Important* Lifeboatman (Proficiency in Survival Craft)

In order to get an AB endorsement you must complete an approved Lifeboatman (Proficiency in Survival Craft) Course as well. We do not offer the Lifeboatman (Proficiency in Survival Craft) Course at this time. The links below bring you to Lifeboatman Courses from other schools:


Compass Courses Maritime Training


Training Resources Maritime Institute

Online Final Examination

Take your Final Examination Online as soon as you are ready! Contact us to connect with our USCG approved online examination specialist and schedule.

Exam Modules that Make up the Final Examination

  • Navigation and Rules of the Road – 50 Questions – 70% to pass
  • Deck General/Safety – 50 Questions – 70% to pass
  • Marlinespike Seamanship Practical Demonstration – Pass or Fail

USCG License Application

You must submit an Application Packet to the US Coast Guard (USCG) to earn a license. You may submit your application packet to the USCG before or after taking a course.

IMPORTANT: Your course completion certificate (Certificate of Training) will satisfy the testing requirements for your license however, we recommend preparing your application and submitting it ASAP. The application evaluation process typically takes 4 to 6 weeks. You do NOT need to include your course completion certificate with your application. If your application is evaluated and approved for issuance, you will be given one year to complete the course!

If you need help putting your application together, we have prepared the following resources:

  • A USCG Application Packet Course is included with your purchase! This course contains videos that guide you through each section of each form that makes up a USCG Application Packet so you can submit it to the USCG yourself.
  • We have created an Application Form Generator to help prefill some of the forms for you.
  • The National Maritime Center website has resources including live chat if you have questions for the USCG.
  • If this process seems overwhelming, time consuming, or if you just want professional help putting your application together, we recommend contacting Diamond Marine Services. The team at DMS have credentialing experts and former National Maritime Center evaluators on their staff and can quickly guide you to a complete and properly prepared application. You can reach them at 877-335-6341.

Application Packet

A USCG application packet contains everything the USCG needs to process and issue your captain’s license. Fill out the Forms and complete the Tasks below to create an application packet. Don’t forget to try our Application Form Generator!


The US Coast Guard (USCG) application packet consists of the following USCG forms. Visit our Application Page for video tutorials of each form.


To complete an application packet you must complete the following tasks.

  • TWIC – Applicants for original licenses must apply for a TWIC and include the receipt in their application packet.
  • Pay.Gov – Go to Pay.Gov and pay processing and issuance of your license. 
  • CPR & First Aid – Take this USCG Approved Online CPR & First Aid Course. Send a copy of your CPR & First Aid Card in with your application packet.

Application Packet Costs

The total cost of completing a USCG application packet will vary. The figures below are cost estimates based on our experience.

  • Physical and Drug Test – $160 – This is our best estimate for a physical and drug test.
    • Any primary care physician can complete the USCG Physical (719K).
    • We recommend US Drug Test Centers 866-566-0261 for scheduling a drug screen at a local lab.
  • TWIC – $125 – Applicants for original licenses must apply for a TWIC.
  • Pay.Gov – $145 – Pay for processing and issuance of your license. Renewals and modification of an existing license will cost less.
  • CPR & First Aid $74.95 – Online and USCG Approved.

Certificate of Training

The Certificate of Training satisfies USCG testing requirements. Once you complete the course and online final examination your Certificate of Training is issued. As a reminder, you can prepare and submit your application before completing the course. Keep in mind that due to USCG regulation, your Certificate of Training is only valid for one year.

  • If you completed the course first, please include your certificate of training with your application.
  • If you have already submitted your application, you can send your Certificate of Application via email to

Email your Application Packet

Please follow the USCG Electronic Submission Instructions to email your complete USCG Application Packet to the Regional Examination Center (REC) nearest you. The USCG processes and issues your license once they have evaluated your application packet. The USCG evaluation process takes about four to six weeks.

If your packet is incomplete or filled out incorrectly the USCG will mail you a letter explaining what additional information they need. Get that information together and send it to the USCG to keep the process moving.