Application for Raise in Grade to Master 500 GRT Oceans, Mate 500 GRT Oceans, STCW II/2 500-3000 GT, Master OSV <3000 GT, AB Unlimited, Lifeboatman, RFPNW, GMDSS, STCW BST, VSO/VPDSD/SA, STCW Medical Certificate, STCW II/3 (Master/Mate less than 500 GT, corresponding to current national -- 100 GRT NC -- license) and entry-level endorsements left off my original issue.
12/06/2014: Submitted to Houston REC via email (three, actually, with multiple attachments)
12/08/2014: Notified by Houston REC that the application had been forwarded to NMC
12/12/2014: Your application is being screened by the Medical Evaluation Division of the National Maritime Center
12/15/2014: Your application has cleared the safety and suitability vetting and medical screening/evaluation processes and is currently awaiting a professional qualification evaluation.
12/15/2014; Important information concerning your credential "MEDICAL CERTIFICATE ... Your application has completed the evaluation process and is approved for issuance.
12/16/2014: Important information concerning your credential "MEDICAL CERTIFICATE...Your credential has been issued and mailed via 1st class USPS. You can expect to receive your credential within 10 days.
12/17/2014: Your application is being evaluated for professional qualifications.
12/22/2014: Additional information is required to complete the evaluation of your application. You will receive a letter from the National Maritime Center detailing the information requested.
I promptly called and was informed that there were three issues: 1.) GMDSS training certificate missing (I self-studied and received the license, but did not take the two-week course, so this was not a huge surprise); 2.) No engine time for "oiler" on entry-level requirements request, and 3.) A request for additional sea service forms or letters (this, the customer service agent explained to me, was a glitch in the coding -- actually, they had to request my "legacy file" from the National Personnel Records Center and were waiting on that. I actually had that legacy file myself, because I had some months before requested a copy of my entire record -- but it was sitting in a file folder at home, and I was on the boat. Tip: Before sending in a RIG appplication, request your file and then include ALL your sea service with the application, even sea service that has previously been credited). Solution: Typed, signed, scanned and emailed a letter requesting deletion of GMDSS and oiler from application.
12/24/2014: Emailed letter amending application. Received an email from the same customer service agent I had spoken to on the phone 12/23/2014 and she assured me that she had forwarded the amendment to my evaluator. This is Christmas Eve, mind you.
01/05/2015: Approved to test Master 500 GRT Oceans.
However ... there was no mention of the split issuance, for which I had paid two issuance fees and explicitly requested both on my application and in my covering letter, not to mention in the amendment letter sent 12/24/2015. Also no mention of approval (nor modules listed for) Mate 500 GRT Oceans. (I was not able to verify this until returning home and seeing letter several days later).
01/06/2015: Called to ask about split issuance and Mate approval ... customer service agent put me through to evaluator, got voicemail, was assured in voicemail that call would be returned within "one to two" business days.
01/07/2015: Emailed scanned/signed (typed) letter to evaluator requesting, again, split issuance and noting application also was for approval to test for Mate 500 GRT Oceans
01/09/2015: Received email reply saying that my letter had been forwarded to my evaluator.
01/15/2015: Morning: Still had not heard anything from evaluator, so called main number again. Helpful gentleman took down information and said he would kick it up his chain-of-command to "try and light a fire."
01/15/2015: Afternoon: Evaluator called me directly. She had missed the split issuance request, and in fact the second issuance fee I had paid had been refunded (apparently by the REC, without any notification to me) three days after I submitted my application. I checked bank accounts, and it was actually credited back 01/03/2015. She had missed the request to test for Mate at the same time as Master, and was completely flummoxed ("But Master is higher than Mate," she said).. I explained the rationale (wanting to test just once through 2nd Mate AGT -- if by some chance I ever got there -- and under the "old" rules. She said she would research it and get back to me, but would proceed with the split issuance.
1/15/2015: A whole bunch of email notifications (including a personal email from evaluator), ending with: Your credential has been issued and mailed via 1st class USPS. You can expect to receive your credential within 10 days.
1/20/2015: Still no word on the updated approval letter.
Bottom line: I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly everything moved -- especially over the holidays. Essentially one month (including Christmas and New Year's, and also some "office closed due to weather" days at NMC). Except for: the request to test for both Master and Mate at the same time. I was not happy with the responsiveness of my evaluator, BUT, once I spoke to her directly, I formed the impression that she was in fact reasonable and not unkind, just perhaps a bit overwhelmed. At this point, I will have (perhaps even today, in the mailbox) all of my endorsements and ratings in the Little Red Book AND approval to test for Master 500 (the important thing -- the mate is just for insurance and flexibility in the future).
Why did I ask for split issuance, you may ask? Because we're in a slowdown with a great deal of uncertainty in the oilfield in the near-term, and I'm realistically five-six months away from sitting the exam, and who knows what could happen between now and then and I want to be sure I have options.
In another thread, someone wrote: "It's a rat maze, but there is cheese at the end." I can smell the cheese. I just can't see it yet.