The U.S. Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center (NMC) said it has begun issuing medical certificates in accordance with the regulations that implement the amendments to the STCW Convention. It said it expects to issue 50,000 medical certificates within 90 days.
Beginning Jan. 24, the agency said it will start issuing medical certificates to each qualified mariner applying for an original, raise-in-grade or renewal merchant mariner credential (MMC). All the medical certificates will be issued free of charge.
The new document is intended to certify that mariners have: the physical capability to fulfill all the requirements of basic training as required by Section A-VI/1 of STCW; adequate hearing and speech to communicate and detect audible alarms; no medical condition that would prevent the effective performance of duties; no medical condition likely to be aggravated by service at sea; and no medical condition that requires medication with side effects that could interfere with the performance of duties.
To sail under the authority of their MMCs, mariners will be required to carry the certificate going forward. The agency asks that mariners sign the certificate in blue or black ink as soon as they receive it and keep it, without separating the pages, along with their MMC. If the certificate indicates that the mariner has a medical waiver, he or she must comply with the requirements of the accompanying waiver letter, which must be carried when sailing under the authority of the MMC.
The Coast Guard said it may grant a waiver if an applicant for a MMC does not possess the vision, hearing, or general physical condition necessary and extenuating circumstances warrant special consideration. For more information, go to www.uscg.mil/nmc/medical/medical_cert.asp
Reported in a recent edition of Wheelhouse Weekly, a newsletter of the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots. It has been reprinted with permission.