Some may find it shocking that some mariners will embellish, distort, or take other liberties with the truth in order to qualify for a license, endorsement or upgrade, or to get a job or promotion. Some, without hesitation or remorse, will even tell a complete falsehood.
There’s nothing new about this — just a part of the human condition. But how can a personnel recruiter, manager, port captain or engineer separate fact from fiction or the gray areas in between?
As far as bogus credentials are concerned, the Coast Guard offers a quick way to check out a mariner’s claims and status. Just go to the National Maritime Center’s home page at www.uscg.mil/nmc/ and scroll about half way down the left side of the tool bar until you see a button called “Credential Verification.” Clicking on it takes you to the “Merchant Mariner Credential Verification” page at the Coast Guard’s “Homeport” website. (Sorry, for some reason you can’t bookmark any of the Coast Guard’s Homeport pages.) At the bottom left there’s a drop-down menu offering four search choices: Document, Single Mariner, Multiple Mariners or Name/DOB/SSN. Choose one, then click the “GO” button and follow the directions. It literally takes just a few seconds.
This is a big step in the right direction, but there are still some improvements that can be made to make it a much more valuable tool. For instance, including all the important dates for both licensed and unlicensed personnel (when initially licensed, along with any subsequent upgrades, endorsements or advanced training) would be a big help. In addition, the Coast Guard erred in a big way by doing away with the license issue numbers when switching over to the new MMC. The issue number was often a useful indicator of a mariner’s experience when taken into context with other information.
Also, all qualified towing vessel designated examiners should be identified, both in the database and in the U.S. domestic qualifications section of the credential itself. These additions would take merchant mariner credential verification to another level and make it harder for the BS artists to talk their way into positions they have no business being in.