Sea Scout Ship Nautilus (461)

Advancement Opportunities



While Sea Scouts have their own advancement program, they are also eligible to work for and earn all of the awards available in the Venturing program, while also serves male and female youth aged 14 through 20 years.  Male Sea Scouts, if they attained the rank of First Class Scout prior to becoming a Sea Scout, or are dually-registered as both a Sea Scout and as a Boy Scout, may continue to earn merit badges and earn their Eagle Scout Award up to their 18th birthday.  Sea Scouts are the only program in Scouting where its members can work on and earn any award in either Boy Scouts, Venturing, and Sea Scouting.

There are four (4) levels in the Sea Scout advancement program:  1) Apprentice; 2) Ordinary; 3) Able; and (4) Quartermaster.  Each level of advancement builds upon the skills that the Sea Scout has mastered when earning the previous level.  The skills required for Sea Scout advancement of course include water safety, boating knowledge, boat maintenance, navigation, piloting, and other nautically-related subjects as well as being active in their respective Ship.  A detailed copy of the requirements for each of the Sea Scout ranks can be downloaded here.  The BSA has completed a personalized Sea Scout Advancement record whereby each Sea Scout can record his or her progress towards the various levels of advancement.  That personal record can be downloaded here.


To qualify for the Apprentice rank, the Sea Scout must be active in the Ship's activities, fulfilling his or her personal financial obligations, and assisting in Ship fund-raising activities.  The Sea Scout must also obtain the Sea Scout uniform, be able to describe the organization of a Sea Scout Ship, describe the duties and responsibilities of the various youth officers.  In addition, the Sea Scout must demonstrate a basic swimming ability by swimming a total of 100 yards, of which 75 yards must be using an overhand stroke and the remaining 25 yards using a resting backstroke, and then remain motionless in the water and float on one's back.  The Sea Scout finally must be able to discuss the points of safe swim defense, basic personal flotation devices and their proper use, the major communication devices and know how to send distress calls, and demonstrate mastery of the following knots -- Overhand; Square; Figure Eight; Bowline; Two Half Hitches; Clove Hitch; Sheet Bend; and Cleat Hitch.  Finally, the Sea Scout must log at least sixteen (16) hours of work on Ship equipment, projects, or activities other than regular Ship meetings. 


To qualify for the Ordinary rank, the Sea Scout must be active in the Ship's activities, fulfilling his or her personal financial obligations, and assist in Ship fund-raising activities for a period of six (6) months.  The Sea Scout must also be able to explain the significance of the Sea Scout emblem, the proper use of the U.S. flag both on land and at sea; recruit a new member for the Ship or assist in preparing a recruiting program or an open house; complete Quarterdeck training and serve as a Ship officer or as an activity chair; complete the requirements for Swimming merit badge; discuss safety afloat; know the safety equipment on the Ship's primary vessel; develop a station bill for the Ship; plan and practice the following drills - man overboard, fire, and abandon ship; describe 3 types of equipment used in marine communication; demonstrate familiarity with the ship's galley by preparing a menu and provision list, assist in preparation of meals, and demonstrate proper and sanitary clean up techniques.  The Sea Scout must also demonstrate certain marlinspike skills, including the materials used to manufacture rope, how rope is classified and measured, demonstrate how to tie the following knots on small and large lines - stevedore's knot, French (double) bowline, bowline on a bight, timber hitch, rolling hitch, marine hitch, and midshipman's (taught-line) hitch.  The Sea Scout must also demonstrate how to hitch lines to pilings, cleats and rings and how to properly coil, flake and flemish lines.  Finally, the Sea Scout must demonstrate familiarity with sailboats and rowboats, anchors, navigation and piloting, plan a cruise of at least 36 hours, successfully complete a boater's safety course, log 16 hours of work on the Ship's equipment, projects or activities, other than at regular Ship meetings, as an Apprentice.  The Sea Scout must also complete three (3) electives out of a choice of eight (8) possible electives.


To qualify for the rank of Able Sea Scout, the Sea Scout must be active in the Ship's activities, fulfill his or her personal financial obligations to the Ship, as well as assist in Ship fund-raising activities.  The Sea Scout must also have participated in 75% of the Ship's activities for a one year period since attaining the rank of Ordinary Sea Scout; have their financial obligations to the Ship current; have spent at least sixteen (16) hours working on Ship service projects, and have served as a crew leader or elected petty officer for the Ship.  The Sea Scout must also have completed the requirements for the Lifesaving merit badge.  The Sea Scout is also required to prepare and present a 15-minute program on Sea Scouting to a Boy Scout Troop, a Venture Crew, or other youth group in which the operations and activities of the Ship and Sea Scouting are described.  In the realm of safety, the Sea Scout must become CPR certified; complete an American Red Cross Standard First Aid class; know the classes of fires and how each is extinguished; demonstrate a knowledge of fire prevention on vessels; and develop a customized vessel safety checklist for a boat used by the Sea Scout's Ship.  Handling ropes is an integral part of seamanship and the Sea Scout must demonstrate a knowledge of splicing, construction and care of sails; and the proper use of various blocks.  Boat handling skills are naturally a part of Sea Scouting and the Sea Scout must demonstrate the ability to operate a small boat equipped with a motor and know the names and functions of lines used to secure a boat to a dock or wharf.  The Sea Scout must also demonstrate proficiency in identifying and use of various types of anchors and proficiency in navigation, including navigation rules, lighting requirements of vessels, and how to determine one's position using various type of reckoning.  The Sea Scout must earn the Long Cruise Badge and demonstrate knowledge of the environmental rules pertaining to the waterways and write a 500-word report on an endangered marine species.  Finally, the Sea Scout must successfully complete three (3) electives in the areas of sailing; vessels; drill; engines; yacht racing; maritime history; ornamental rope work; fiberglass repair and maintenance; specialty proficiency; United States Power Squadron; and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.


The top level of advancement in the Sea Scouts is the Quartermaster Award.  In order to earn this award, a Sea Scout must first reach the level of Able Sea Scout, master a number of nautical skills, and complete a service project that has been approved in advance.  The Quartermaster Award is the Sea Scout equivalent of the Boy Scout Eagle Scout Award or the Venturing Silver Award.  A Sea Scout may earn his or her Quartermaster Award up to their 21st birthday.  The specific requirements for attaining the various levels of Sea Scout advancement may be found in the Sea Scout manual that is available at any scout shop, online at, or may be downloaded at  A quick reference guide may be downloaded here.

The Quartermaster Award, which stands for excellence, goes to the young adult who attains the highest rank in Sea Scouting.  The award is a reminder that as a ship needs a rudder, a compass, and a moving force to reach its destination, so an individual must be physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight to achieve worthwhile goals in life. It represents fulfillment.  It results from a young adult's determination to reach goals that he or she has set and achieved in spite of difficulties along the way.

The Quartermaster Award itself is rich in symbolism.  The blue ribbon stands for loyalty and country.  The compass suggests the importance of carefully chosen direction in life.  The wheel reminds us that we are the guide of our own future and that we must persevere with self-discipline.  The Scout badge, the emblem of purposeful brotherhood, has challenged and strengthened the lives of more than 40 million persons.  It shows Sea Scouting as an important part of the Scouting tradition.  The anchor reminds us that a truly worthy life must be anchored in duty to God.

The official BSA fact sheet relating to the Quartermaster Award can be downloaded here.  In addition to the various scouting and nautical skills a Sea Scout is required to master, the candidate for Quartermaster must also plan and complete a Quartermaster service project.  There is an official BSA workbook that is required to be used for the planning and final report on the Quartermaster service project that can be downloaded here.

Venturing Awards

In addition to the specific Sea Scout advancement awards, Sea Scouts are also eligible to earn the various Venturing awards, including the Venturing Bronze,Venturing Silver Award Gold, and Silver Awards, as well as the Ranger and Quest Awards.  Like the Sea Scout advancement awards, Venturing awards may be earned up to a Sea Scout's twenty-first (21st) birthday.  Venturing awards are available to all Sea Scouts, male and female.  Venturers, however, cannot earn Sea Scout awards.

The highest Venturing award is the Silver Award, pictured at right.  In order to qualify for the Silver Award, a Venturer or Sea Scout must demonstrate proficiency in various phases of emergency preparedness (including CPR, safe swim defense, and standard first aid), participate in Ethics in Action, complete the Venturing Leadership Skills Course, have earned the Venturing Gold Award, and have earned at least one of the five (5) Venturing Bronze Awards.  The purpose of the Venturing Silver Award is to provide a pathway to personal development; encourage Venturers to grow, learn, and serve; and recognize a high level of achievement of Venturers who acquire Venturing skills.

Eagle Scout

Sea Scouts who also reached the rank of First Class Scout as a Boy Scout may also continue to earn merit badges and work towards their Eagle Scout Award.  A Sea Scout may also be registered as a Boy Scout and a member of a Boy Scout Troop at the same time that the Sea Scout is a registered member of the Sea Scout Ship.  A Sea Scout who is registered only as a Sea Scout will only earn the necessary merit badges towards the Eagle Rank and plan and complete the necessary Eagle Scout Service Project, he will not earn the equivalent Boy Scout Ranks of Star or Life while working towards Eagle.  Unlike the Quartermaster Award, which can be earned at any time prior to the Sea Scout attaining the age of 21 years, the Eagle Scout Award must be earned prior to the Sea Scout attaining the age of 18 years.  

Girl Scout Gold Award

Female Sea Scouts who are also registered Girl Scouts may also work towards their Girl Scout Gold Award, which is the highest achievement in Girl Scouting.  The Girl Scout Gold Award is available only to Girl Scouts in high school and involves a seven (7) step project that permits the candidate to change the world - or at least a small part of it.  By the time a Gold Award candidate finishes their seven-step community project, they will have solved a community problem, not only for the short term, but for the long term as well.  There are special scholarships available to recipients of the Girl Scout Gold Award.


This page last updated on 03 April 2013