Able Seaman (Any Rating)
GLFCMA - 001
An able seaman 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.
An AB may be called on to use emergency, lifesaving, damage control, and safety equipment. Able seamen 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 able seamen and ordinary seaman that comprise the unlicensed deck crew, and reports directly to the chief mate.
The Code of Federal Regulations establishes in 46 CFR 12.05, five categories of able seaman for the United States Merchant Marine:
Able Seaman—Unlimited: Requires three years service on deck on vessels operating on the oceans or the Great Lakes.
Able Seaman—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.
Able Seaman—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.
Able Seaman—Special (OSV): Requires six months service on deck on vessels operating on the oceans, or the navigable waters of the United States including the Great Lakes.
Able Seaman—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.
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.
USCG Approval Citation:
Any applicant who has successfully completed your Able Seaman (GLFCMA-1) course and presents your Certificate of Training within one year of the completion of training, will satisfy the written examination requirements of 46 CFR 12.405(a) for the Deck General and Navigation General, Deck Safety and Rules of the Road; AND the Practical Marlinspike Seamanship Demonstration requirement of 46 CFR 12.405(c); AND the written Survival Craft examination requirements of 46 CFR 12.409 for any endorsement as Able Seaman restricted to vessels without lifeboats.