Sea Time Letter


#1

What are the options, if your employer refuses to give you a Sea Time Letter on company letterhead? I obviously need the documentation for an upgrade/renewal. I’ve contacted the Coast Guard, and although they want to see the documentation, the most they will tell me is; I should contact a Maritime lawyer. Why should I contact a lawyer, for something the Coast Guard requires, but wont tell me how to enforce?


#2

I think your first option is to ask for the letter in writing.
Make a copy and have them both notarized.
Send one registered mail, return receipt requested. Save the other.
At least that way you have some paperwork if you later need to go the lawyer route.

Once the company has letter in hand, with THEIR signature on it, you will probably get results.
Although not exactly applicable, quote CFR 46 14.307 (e).

If that doesn’t work, call your Congressmen.

I’d try all that before going to a lawyer.


#3

Is this your current employer of a former employer?

One time I had success by writing letters directly to the President of the company and the corporate counsel requesting the sea service letter, and pointing out that a sea service letter is an implied condition of every employment contract with a seaman that is every bit as important as the payment of wages. I indicated that if the sea service letter was not forth coming that I would petition the Coast Guard to hold a hearing and subpoena the vessels logbooks and the company employment records to determine the nature of my sea service with the company. I also pointed out that one never knows what violations might be uncovered if the Coast Guard started looking into the kind of company that would refuse to issue a sea service letter. No company president or lawyer wants to take this kind of unecessary risk. This made the marine operations manager very angry, but the sea service letter arrived promptly. I suspect that the operations manager got spanked pretty hard by the company. Of course I never sought employment with this company again, and the marine operations manager bad mouthed me for years.

If you are talking about a month of seatime, forget it. Just post the name of the company that refused to issue your sea service on gcaptain.

If its a lot of seatime and its important to your career, do NOT fool around. Pay a good lawyer to write the letter for you. That will be 100 times more effective than a letter from you, it will turn this into a lawyer to lawyer conversation (they are the adults in the room), and muzzle the HR and operations people. I would chose a lawyer who was formerly a Coast Guard lawyer, and has a marine related practice. These lawyers are very well networked with friends and classmates that are still in the Coast Guard. This type of lawyer will be taken very seriously. You should be able to find this type of lawyer in any major seaport.


#4

Did you get discharges? (those will work just as good) How old is the sea-time you are asking for? (if is more than 5 yrs I don’t think they are required to issue it)

I will call someone higher up in the company I am sure they will work with you.


#5

Is this your current employer? Your wording implies such. I had to ‘prod’ a lazy HR person at a previous company by basically writing my own sea service letter. That way he only had to copy it right on top if company letterhead and sign it. But… You have to make damned sure you have the letter written properly, because that kind of office won’t write it twice.


#6

Thanks to everyone who replied. That gives me a lot more to go on. Unfortunately I couldn’t go the route of just getting a Discharge slip, as this is, you guessed it, a GOM company, with <1600GT vessels, therefore they aren’t required to give you one of those on being relieved. The time itself was relativelyshort, though it would be nice to have it. As it turns out there were a lot of promises made when I signed on, that never materialized, which is why I left. So this doesn’t surprise me, either. I may just blow it off–not worth losing any sleep over–and mention that it was GULFMARK.


#7

GULFMARK ! ! !

OK everybody, what is the general word in the Gulf about GULFMARK?


#8

I had a friend in the same situation. This advice was given by the USCG: "If you have the time documented yourself, you can simply type up a letter with the correct information that is normally on a sea time letter, sign it and send it with your application. If the NMC has any questions as to the validity of it, then they will contact the company and it HAS to produce it at that time."
My friend has done this successfully.


#9

[QUOTE=rjbpilot;76829]I had a friend in the same situation. This advice was given by the USCG: "If you have the time documented yourself, you can simply type up a letter with the correct information that is normally on a sea time letter, sign it and send it with your application. If the NMC has any questions as to the validity of it, then they will contact the company and it HAS to produce it at that time."
My friend has done this successfully.[/QUOTE]

Thanks. Absolutely. There are many alternative ways to prove seatime. You just need some type of credible evidence, such as employee handbooks, employment agreements, correspondence, W-2s, pay stubs, etc. The more you have the easier it becomes for the USCG to say ok.

I cannot imagine any company refusing to respond to the USCG. The trick is to get the USCG to inquire…


#10

Get a lawyer give him $100 tell him to write a nice letter to your ex employer that you will be suing for lost time wages and upgraded wages for time lost due to no sea time letter. Just the thought of a lawyer makes these guys cringe.


#11

The burden then rests on the USCG to prove you wrong. They may pursue it, they may not. If so, the company in question must provide the information. If they can’t, then the USCG must accept your letter.


#12

That poses an interesting question.

I have always assumed that the mariner bears the burden of proof when submitting his seatime, and that the USCG does not have to prove anything.

Does the USCG actually bear the burden of proof? Are they required to accept seatime unless they can prove it is not valid? I find that very hard to believe.


#13

[QUOTE=tugsailor;76919]…Does the USCG actually bear the burden of proof? Are they required to accept seatime unless they can prove it is not valid? I find that very hard to believe.[/QUOTE]

As do I. 46 CFR 10.225(b)(3) would suggest otherwise.


#14

The regs are there, but my friend was given that info from USCG NOLA REC a while ago. He was told the procedure above. He had time at a company and could not get the company to comply with a sea time letter. He was successful.

His brother also recently was advised by NMC to sign his own small vessel sea service letter (due to the same issue with a company refusing a letter) and it was accepted by NMC, but they only credited him for 8 hr days. That was approved last month.
Rollingstone, you may want to check to see if that’s an option.


#15

[QUOTE=jdcavo;76922]As do I. 46 CFR 10.225(b)(3) would suggest otherwise.[/QUOTE]

46 CFR 10.225(b)(3)? 46 CFR 10.225(b)(6) I think. [B] (6) Discharges or other documentary evidence of service indicating the name, tonnage, and propulsion power of the vessels, dates of service, capacity in which the applicant served, and on what waters, where sea service is required;`[/B]
What IS the ‘other documentary evidence’?

Being the shell answer man as usual, can you share the policy letter concerning this. Sometimes the USCG working interpretation is more beneficial.

Which brings a more relevant question. Can (or is) the whole USCG policy letter database public knowledge? If not, why not? That would seem to take alot of the guesswork out of these conversations. Although there would be a few USCG alumni who would not be happy if this was public knowledge, since they would be almost out of work as license facilitators! But if this information WAS public knowledge, then there wouldn’t be the need for such interaction between veteran REC personnel and the public. It is almost as if the CG is setting this up in this manner to MAKE it obfuscatory just to ensure the post career jobs as ‘interpreters’.


#16

As I thought, the mariner bears the burden of proof to persuade the USCG that his seatime is legitimate. However, there are many ways to “prove” seatime, including a credible self-written sea service letter. If you can back up the self-written sea service letter by attaching pay stubs, W-2s, an employment contract, etc., and explain why you are having to do things this way, you will probably be successful. The USCG has seen these types of problems before.


#17

[QUOTE=cappy208;76950]46 CFR 10.225(b)(3)? 46 CFR 10.225(b)(6) I think. [B] (6) Discharges or other documentary evidence of service indicating the name, tonnage, and propulsion power of the vessels, dates of service, capacity in which the applicant served, and on what waters, where sea service is required;`[/B]
What IS the ‘other documentary evidence’?

Being the shell answer man as usual, can you share the policy letter concerning this. Sometimes the USCG working interpretation is more beneficial.

Which brings a more relevant question. Can (or is) the whole USCG policy letter database public knowledge? If not, why not? That would seem to take alot of the guesswork out of these conversations. Although there would be a few USCG alumni who would not be happy if this was public knowledge, since they would be almost out of work as license facilitators! But if this information WAS public knowledge, then there wouldn’t be the need for such interaction between veteran REC personnel and the public. It is almost as if the CG is setting this up in this manner to MAKE it obfuscatory just to ensure the post career jobs as ‘interpreters’.[/QUOTE]

The other evidence is largely as tugsailor describes.

There are internal “work instructions” and “MMS” (mission management system, aka a quality management system) procedure descruiptions that are internal to the NMC. I’m not awarwe that these are published other than in-house.


#18

I always thought that upon written request of sea time, the company had 30 days to respond. Unfortunately, I can not remember the reference to this. Does anyone know if a company has a legal obligation to distribute this letter in a timely fashion?


#19

It is always a good idea to carry CG-719A (discharge forms) To document your sea time. You can download them from the NMC website. You keep one and give the other two to the master of the vessel.


#20

[QUOTE=kjsimien@gmail.com;123080]It is always a good idea to carry CG-719A (discharge forms) To document your sea time. You can download them from the NMC website. You keep one and give the other two to the master of the vessel.[/QUOTE]

That might be inviting further inquiry and/or delays. When vessels use those forms in the usual course of business, the copy is sent to the NMC and recorded in a database. Evaluators can check that database, and if the information on your discharge is not in the database, it might raise some flags and concerns over fraud.