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Able-Bodied Seaman (“AB or ABS”) is a term in maritime law. AB is a qualified and trained merchant seaman who is certified so by a training authority. AB is more skilled and ranked above than an ordinary seaman. AB generally works in the deck department. Apart from performing routine sea duties, AB is trained to steer a ship using compass and other devices.
Code of Federal Regulations (46 CFR 12.05-1) specifies four categories of AB for the United States Merchant Marine:
Able Seaman-Any Waters, Unlimited. Requires three years service on deck on vessels operating on oceans or great lakes.
Able Seaman-Limited. Requires Eighteen months service on deck in vessels of 100 gross tons or more.
Able Seaman-Special. Requires Twelve months service on deck on vessels operating on the oceans, or the navigable waters of the U.S.
Able Seaman-Special (OSV). Requires six months service on deck on vessels operating on the oceans, or the navigable waters of the U.S.
Able-bodied seaman is also termed as able seaman or blue water seaman