The U.S. Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center (NMC) says that although some improvement in credential processing time has been registered since December, it is still encountering “challenges that have significantly impacted [its] ability to return to previous performance levels.”
The agency said the backlog is due to the recent implementation of the new STCW Final Rule, the need to issue medical certificates, a shortage of several NMC employees and “persistent technology issues.” It also said an unexpectedly high number of mariners are applying for credentials, something it referred to as “Spring surge.” The agency said it has taken on new staff and used money allocated to overtime to boost production, and has added new technologies to the mix.
“While all this had been instituted, we have been extending mariners’ credentials on a case-by-case basis and will continue to do so,” said NMC Commanding Officer Jeffrey P. Novotny in an official statement.
The agency is asking mariners to submit applications for renewals and applications for original credentials 90 days in advance of when they will be needed.
For medical certificates, it asks applicants to read up on the requirements on its Web site (www.uscg.mil/nmc), to take a copy of Navigation and Inspection Circular (NVIC) 04-08 with them when they get their physical, and to ask their doctor to provide as much information as possible for any medical condition listed.
Reported in a recent edition of Wheelhouse Weekly, a newsletter of the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots. It has been reprinted with permission.