Third Mate Unlimited

Modern ships are the largest moving creations in the history of the world. Coordinating that movement are a team of professional mariners that carry out extensive duties of cargo transfer operations, navigational voyage planning, emergency management, equipment upkeep and record-keeping.

This team is responsible for the safe transit of millions of dollars of cargo and the lives of two dozen crew members across ocean routes and into different nations. These duties are shared in the various roles of the deck officers.

As a Third Mate, you will serve as a deck watch officer under the guidance of senior officers and be responsible for the inspection and maintenance of all safety equipment including lifeboats and fire-fighting gear. You will manage crew in the upkeep of deck machinery as well as assist on deck with mooring procedures. Management of shipboard operations is a constant job that is shared on watch systems. Traditionally you will stand “4-8 watch”; four hours of watch with eight hours off in between, seven days a week for the duration of your dispatch. Your duty on watch depends on the ship’s schedule.

While at sea, the Third Mate stands a navigational watch with a helmsman, plots the ship’s position, practices collision avoidance, consults navigational equipment, and directs the helmsman to change course when needed. The Third Mate notifies the Chief Officer or Master according to the standing orders.

When in port, the priority is the efficient and safe transfer of cargo, either loading or unloading. You will monitor the mooring lines and trim/list of the ship with operation of ballast pumps, make rounds, communicate with dock crew and be the eyes/ears for the Captain.

There is a level of prestige that comes with an unlimited license. The routes are more international, crews are larger and dispatches are longer. A Third Mate unlimited tonnage license and more experience at sea make a mariner highly capable and employable on a global scope.


  • Apprentice primarily on ships such as:
    • Tankers;
    • Containers;
    • Cruise ships;
    • Research ships and all vessels of ‘unlimited ‘tonnage’ (over 1600 GRT);
    • Washington State Ferries
  • Crew size around 22, with exception of the cruise ships
  • Voyages at average a few months in length
  • Lengthy international ocean voyages
  • May work for various companies each trip
  • Work with a steersman/helmsman/quartermaster
  • Oversee cargo operations

Maritime Apprenticeship Programs

MITAGS’ Maritime Apprenticeship Programs offer a fast and cost-effective way for passionate individuals that possess little or no maritime experience to earn highly desirable qualifications.

For the sea service training component, MITAGS facilitates the matching of prospective apprentices with reputable companies who have signed on with the program, using an interview process.  Apprentices must be placed with a Partner Company prior to starting the program, and they remain with a selected company throughout the entire program.

Upon program completion, the Apprentice will be eligible to sit for their Mate’s license and will also hold their AB Limited.  In addition, all STCW requirements and assessments are met so the mariner will also receive their Able Seafarer-Deck and OICNW credentials to sail internationally.  The tonnage of the vessels the apprentice sails on during the program will determine whether they receive their Mate of 500/1600 GRT vessels, or a Third Mate Unlimited tonnage license.

To learn more about our programs please fill out the form below!