There are several required skills to master if you wish to become an able seaman. These skills, such as knot tying, rules of the road and navigation basics, are all prerequisites to becoming an able seaman. You will also be required to complete classroom work, have a particular amount of time at sea and pass both a physical and drug examination in order to become an able seaman. You must also be 18 years of age or older in order to take the classroom component of the training.
If you 18 years old or older, have acquired the prerequisite time on the sea or on the United States Great Lakes and you want to become an able seaman on an American flagged ship, you will be required to take and pass a course given by the United States Coast Guard (USCG). The 40-hour class will cover deck safety, general deck duties and rules of the road while at sea. You will also be trained in basic navigation to provide you with the skills to safely operate on board a ship and work as a member of a crew. You will also be required to pass a physical examination to make certain that you are in top physical condition to withstand the rigors of sea duty.
Along with a physical assessment, you will be required to take and pass a drug screen to test for drug use. Once cleared for duty by both of the exams, you may begin your classroom training, which amounts to 40 hours in total. The training will include marlinspike seamanship. This will teach you many skills that you will be required to posses if you want to become an able seaman.
Marlinspike seamanship training is concentrated on working with ropes, cables and the proper methodology of tying a ship at dock. Knot tying and line splicing as well as selecting the proper type of rope to use for any given application are all covered in this marlinspike seamanship training. The course takes its name from the marlinspike, a tool used in the splicing of ropes and cable.
The amount of time required at sea is dependent upon which of the seven types of seaman you are attempting to become. The time at sea ranges from six months to three years and must be fully documented to be claimed. Once the classroom period is completed, the USCG will check the paperwork you have submitted to verify that you posses all of the skills required to become an able seaman. Once verified that all skills and requirements are completed and met, the USCG will endorse your license, stating that you are eligible to become employed as an able seaman.