Capt. Andrew A. Hammond's blog
To all mariners who make their living with their valid U. S. Coast Guard credential!! IF you think that there will be ANY possibility of a delay in the processing of your application, you can now apply to renew your credential ANY time during the validity of the credential. This means you no longer have to wait to be within 12 months of the expiration date before submitting your application. A key policy that's been rolled out is something called "delayed issuance". We can request that when you submit your application and NMC will process your file up to the point of printing and issuing the new license. Then their database will move it to print 30 days before your current credential expires. This way you won't lose much time on your current credential.
You have all experienced this. You are underway on what appears to be a clear and calm day. The first thing you notice or feel is the wind increasing or shifting direction. That should be your first indication that the weather pattern is about to change. To what, we often don't know, but rest assured, it will change. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is the world regulating body that develops and implements the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW). After the "big" amendment in 1995, the IMO has meet periodically to further amend the STCW code to address changes in the maritime industry and to address issues presented by many of the countries (or Parties) to the Convention.
In January of this year I was appointed to the Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee (MERPAC). Under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, this committee was established in 1992 to advise the Commandant (USCG) on all matters relating to the training, qualification, licensing, certification, and fitness of merchant seaman. MERPAC is composed of 19 members from various sectors of the maritime community. I was appointed in a slot that represents the interests and view points of shipping companies. However, I try to represent the best interests of all those who work in the maritime field and who are affected by the myriad of rules and regulations laid out both internationally and domestically. This week we held our 2nd public meeting of 2009 (the first meeting of 2009 was held at Mass. Maritime in April). What made this particular meeting special was this it was hosted by the U.S. Coast Guard National Maritime Center (NMC), which is "ground zero" of the U. S. Coast Guard's merchant mariner certification program. As many of you know, NMC is located in Martinsburg WV in a sparkling new, three story building, built and designed specifically for the NMC.
In speaking with the author of the amended Federal Regulations pertaining to Radar Observer endorsements, I feel it's important to note a few corrections from my last blog entry.
April 15, 2009 will be a date that will mark a major change in the way the Coast Guard processes applications for merchant mariner "credentials". On that date, there were three major changes that all credentialed mariners and their employers should be keenly aware of.
As we approach the new year, the world of mariner licensing continues to "evolve" with the re-structuring of the Coast Guard's merchant mariner credentialing process. As most of you know, as of last September ALL applications are now sent to the National Maritime Center (NMC) for evaluation and issuance. Currently the Regional Examination Centers (RECs) are where you start the process by going there to verify your identity. They will then forward your application to NMC. They can no longer evaluate or issue any credentials to mariners.
On October 14th the Coast Guard published a Final Rule doing away with the regulation to hold a valid Radar Observer Endorsement on your merchant mariner's license. In a move that resembles some form of common sense, the new regulation no longer requires those mariners, who are required to be trained in the use and theory of radar, to pay an extra $45 to simply have them issue an endorsement.
A rather personal question, yes? All kidding aside, the Coast Guard Deck Officer license structure is based on capacity (Master, Mate, Operator), propulsion (steam, motor, aux. sail), tonnage, and the waters you are authorized to sail on. However it's tonnage or "Gross Register Tons" that separates the many of the levels within the deck license scheme; all the way from the MASTER 25 Gross Tons to the MASTER Any Gross Tons and everything in between!