The Coast Guard has published a Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB-01-22) on how maritime companies can verify the validity of merchant mariner credentials (MMCs) for current and prospective employees

This is an important question for companies to consider when deciding whether to hire, promote, or discipline a merchant mariner. It is also critical step to ensure the overall safety of maritime operations. Thus, the Coast Guard has implemented new control measures to ensure mariners inform their marine employer of the status of their MMC following administrative enforcement action by the Coast Guard.

For example, mariners must notify their employer of the Suspension & Revocation (S&R) enforcement action being taken against their MMC within one week of entering into a settlement agreement. While in settlement, mariners must also provide current employment information as well as any prospective employers to the Coast Guard for verification purposes. Failure to make either notification will be considered a breach of the settlement agreement and subsequently trigger the Coast Guard’s pre-settlement proposed sanction (e.g., revocation).

In the past, the USCG has encountered situations in which mariners failed to disclose the status of their credential to their marine employers while in settlement and/or have continued to work under the authority of their credential while it or certain endorsements were suspended or reduced in scope. For example, the USCG has identified that multiple mariners in drug settlements sought and obtained new employment in safety sensitive positions while their credentials were on deposit, knowing that many marine employers do not check credential validity or status during the hiring process.

In another case, a mariner who submitted fraudulent training certificates to the USCG continued to serve as a master despite having their MMC reduced and endorsements removed by the National Maritime Center (NMC). Credentialed mariners are entrusted with the safety and security of commercial vessels, and the vast majority are dedicated, safety conscious individuals who work hard to earn and maintain their professional credentials and endorsements. However, the small percentage of mariners who willingly subvert the USCG’s credentialing rules, pose a significant threat to the entire marine transportation system.

This MSIB's purpose is to highlight the importance of verifying the authenticity of all MMCs and the associated endorsements. To assist marine employers in determining whether mariners are qualified to serve in specific shipboard roles and duties, the following recommendations are provided:

1. Merchant Mariner Verification: Marine employers are encouraged to periodically verify the validity of their employees’ MMCs by utilizing the USCG’s Merchant Mariner Verification tool. An MMC and its endorsements may be invalidated, revoked, suspended, or fraudulently altered over the course of the standard 5-year issuance cycle. The USCG highly recommends using this verification tool during the hiring process as it displays only the most recently issued MMC, endorsements, and medical certificates. For more information, please visit: Merchant Mariner Verification tool. The USCG recommends using either Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer to access the tool. Unsupported browsers such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari, may erroneously show that credentials are invalid or display an incompatibility warning. If this occurs, please contact the NMC via chat, email, or phone.

2. General Questions Concerning MMCs or Endorsements: Anyone with general questions or concerns related to specific MMCs or endorsements can contact the National Maritime Center or their local Regional Exam Center.

3. Information Related to Suspected Credentialing Fraud or Other Criminal Acts: Any information related to Merchant Mariner Credentialing Fraud, or other federal crimes committed on or affecting the maritime community, should be reported to the Coast Guard. Reports can be made anonymously to the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) either via the internet or through the CGIS Tips App.