By Dorie Cox
Still facing a backlog of renewals after the partial government shutdown in December and January, the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center (NMC) has issued an extension for renewals of merchant mariner credentials (MMC) and medical certificates (national endorsements only).
The extensions, effective immediately, are good through July 31 for mariner credentials and medical certificates that expired in December 2018, January 2019, February 2019, March 2019, April 2019 or May 2019, or will expire in June 2019.
The staff at Maritime Professional Training has not seen too many delays getting expired certifications renewed, according to Ann Aylesworth, admissions manager at the school in Fort Lauderdale.
“That backlog has been turned around and we’re seeing 10-14 business day turnarounds,” Aylesworth said.
Many professional mariners renew ahead of expiration dates and the application process has been streamlined, she said.
“You can scan your originals and send them electronically,” Aylesworth said of mariner documents. “Putting papers in a manila envelope with lots of stamps will take longer.”
And mariners are no longer tied to a Regional Exam Center (REC) after the centralization of mariner records in 2010. This has increased efficiency and sped up processing for documents, she said.
“You can submit to any regional exam center; some have longer lines like Miami, Boston, and Charleston because of where they’re located,” she said. “Places like St. Louis, Memphis, and Honolulu don’t have long lines, generally speaking.”
The USCG recommends mariners print a copy to the following letter to keep with the paperwork impacted by the delay:
Dear U.S. Mariner,
Due to the federal government’s partial lapse in appropriations for fiscal year 2019, the Coast Guard is unable to process mariner credentials in a timely manner. To provide relief to impacted mariners and under the authority of 46 United States Code § 7507 and § 7508, the Coast Guard is granting extensions effective immediately to national endorsements and medical certificates until July 31, 2019, for mariners whose credentials expire in December 2018, January 2019, February 2019, March 2019, April 2019, May 2019, or June 2019.
All mariners sailing under the authority of their National Endorsement(s) should print and retain a copy of this letter with their merchant mariner credential (MMC) and medical certificate to produce it upon request by the U.S. Coast Guard, other agencies or officials. The National Maritime Center (NMC) does not intend to issue any separate or new MMCs to correspond to this extension for mariners sailing domestically. This extension does not apply to Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) endorsements.
Applications submitted before or during the partial government shutdown will be processed as soon as possible once the NMC is reopened and is legally authorized to begin operations.
If you have questions, visit the NMC website or contact the NMC Customer Service Center by using the NMC online chat system, by e-mailing IASKNMC@uscg.mil, or by calling 1-888-IASKNMC (427-5662).
K. R. MARTIN
Captain, U.S. Coast Guard
Click for more information from USCG National Maritime Center.
Click for a PDF copy of U.S. Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center (NMC)’s recommended letter, as seen above.
Click for a list of Regional Exam Centers.