Credential concerns continue

Quick turnaround of mariner credentials at the Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center in West Virginia continues to be of great concern to everyone — from mariners who must have the documents to work, to vessel owners who employ them, to members of Congress who represent them in Washington. Adm. Thad Allen, the Coast Guard’s big boss, has promised improvements in how the agency handles these important documents.

The NMC reports that it has finally eliminated the backlog of applicants and in its October monthly report said that 3,009 applications were processed that month, about the same as in September. It took an average of 25.77 days in October to process an application, slightly longer than the 25.5 days in September.

What does it all mean for mariners looking to renew? If your credentials expire soon, act immediately. February, March and April are traditionally busy months for the NMC, so apply now to beat the crunch.

Some helpful tips: Did you know that you can request in your application a delayed issuance of a credential in order to avoid getting a credential with an earlier expiration date that trims off future service time?

Also, an annual physical is only required for those operating under the authority of a federal first class pilot’s license or those towing vessel operators “acting as” pilots of coastwise seagoing tank barges. Mariners with a pilot endorsement but not operating under the authority of that endorsement are not subject to annual physicals.

So what’s been your experience been with the credential renewal process? Have you noticed improved service and turnaround time? I’d like to know.

About the author

Pamela Glass

Pamela Glass is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for WorkBoat. She reports on the decisions and deliberations of congressional committees and federal agencies that affect the maritime industry, including the Coast Guard, U.S. Maritime Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Prior to coming to WorkBoat, she covered coastal, oceans and maritime industry news for 15 years for newspapers in coastal areas of Massachusetts and Michigan for Ottaway News Service, a division of the Dow Jones Company. She began her newspaper career at the New Bedford (Mass.) Standard-Times. A native of Massachusetts, she is a 1978 graduate of Wesleyan University (Conn.). She currently resides in Potomac, Md.

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