Mariner credentials backed up at NMC
Applications are being delayed at the Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center (NMC) because of new STCW and medical certificate requirements, staff shortages and technology problems. “These issues, coupled with an unusually high ‘spring surge’ of credential applications, have created an environment which is challenging our previously established turnaround times,” Capt. Jeffrey Novotny said in a June bulletin. Net processing time in May was 40 days, which exceeded NMC’s goal of 30 days and was way above the 16.84 days in May 2013. The number of applications being processed in May was 9,347 versus 4,151 at the same time last year. The Coast Guard said it has added people, used overtime money to boost production and increased network connectivity. “We have been extending mariners credentials on a case-by-case basis and will continue to do so,” Novotny said. The NMC has asked employers to be patient and mariners to submit original and renewal applications 90 days in advance of when they’re needed. The NMC also suggested that mariners bring a copy of Navigation and Inspection Circular (NVIC) 04-08 to their physicals and ask doctors to provide as much information as possible. The NMC warned about increased processing times in December due partly to furloughs and a rush of applicants seeking security endorsements that were required by January 2014. Novotny said those issues “have largely been overcome.” — D.K. DuPont
Vessel discharge legislation needed, coalition says
early this summer, a coalition of 58 national and regional organizations representing business, maritime and labor organizations signed a letter to Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John Rockefeller, D-W. Va., and Ranking Member John Thune, R-S.D., urging that the committee mark up and approve S. 2094. The bill would establish a uniform, science-based national framework for the regulation of ballast water and other vessel discharges. The bill, introduced in March by Sens. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has 29 additional bipartisan co-sponsors, including a majority of Senate Commerce Committee members. The bill would remedy the existing confusing, costly and inefficient patchwork of state and federal rules governing vessel discharges which vessel owners must comply with. As of early July, the bill had not been marked up but was still very much alive, according to a committee spokesperson.