In light of COVID-19’s impact on the seafaring industry, U.S. Coast Guard officials are extending credential deadlines and easing enforcement on certain requirements, the agency announced Dec. 22.
Even though extensions are in place, Coast Guard officials are encouraging mariners to meet requirements as soon as possible to avoid lapses, especially since officials anticipate a backlog of processing credentials and course approvals. Mariners should also be aware that expiring merchant mariner credentials can only be extended up to one year.
For Merchant Mariner Credentials, national endorsements that expire between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 have been extended until Oct. 31, 2021 or one year after the initial expiration date printed on the credential, whichever is earlier. Those working on expired credentials that qualify for the extension criteria need to carry the expired credentials with the extension notice.
MMCs with STCW Endorsements ending between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 have been extended until Oct. 31, 2021 or one year after the initial expiration date on the credential, whichever occurs first. Those working on expired credentials that qualify for the extension criteria need to carry the expired credentials with the extension notice.
Until Oct. 31, 2021, the Coast Guard will accept “shipboard experience in fire, emergency, and/or abandon ship drills for demonstrating continued competence in PSC, PSC-Ltd, FRB, BT, and/or AFF provided mariners have obtained at least 360 days of relevant service within the past five years.” This applies to mariners who meet initial competency requirements in “survival craft and rescue boats other than fast rescue boats (PSC), PSC-limited, fast rescue boats (FRB), basic training (BT), and advanced firefighting (AFF) and who are renewing MMCs that expire between March 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.”
If mariners don’t have at least one year of relevant service in the last five years, they can only renew their STCW endorsements by showing their ongoing competence for “PSC, PSC-Ltd, FRB, BT, and/or AFF as specified in 46 CFR 12.613(b)(4) or 46 CFR 12.615(b)(4) and NVIC 04-14 (for PSC and PSC-Ltd); 46 CFR 12.617(b)(4) and NVIC 05-15 (for FRB); 46 CFR 11.302(e), 12.602(e), and NVIC 08-14 (for BT); and/or 46 CFR 11.303(e) and NVIC 09-14 (for AFF).” They must finish their original or refresher training for PSC, PSC-Ltd, FRB, BT, and/or AFF, according to the USCG. Anything less won’t be accepted.
National, pilot, or STCW medical certifications ending between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 will be extended until Oct. 31, 2021 or one year after the expiration date printed on the certificate, whichever occurs first.
Until Oct. 31, 2021, the Coast Guard won’t enforce the requirement that pilots need a current annual physical exam certificate while holding a credential. Those working on expired medical certificates that qualify for the extension criteria need to have the expired certificate with a copy of this notice. This nonenforcement only applies to the requirement of carrying a current STCW medical certificate and not the actual medical standards. Those with disqualifying medical conditions should not sail, the USCG said.
Regional Exam Centers and Monitoring Units (except for Monitoring Unit Guam) are now open only for exams with limited seating in accordance with CDC guidelines. Approval to Test Letters and Course Completion Certificates expiring March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 have been extended to Oct. 31, 2021.
Course and program approvals ending between Jan. 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2020, have been extended for six months from their date of expiration. The National Maritime Center’s internal records will reflect the current status of acceptance of course completion certificates issued during the extension. The center will work toward alternate ways to deliver training and testing. Mariners can request alternate methods to NMCCourses@uscg.mil. They should include in the email “a list of courses, a complete description of the alternative requested, the tools involved, and the business process to be employed.”
Visit https://www.uscg.mil/nmc/ for more.