Coast Guard Announces New NMC "Actions"

Coast Guard announces actions to reduce mariner credentialing process time

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Coast Guard announced Wednesday its ongoing actions to reduce processing time for mariner credentials.

The National Maritime Center, the Coast Guard’s new centralized mariner credentialing processing facility in Martinsburg, W.Va., consolidated the Mariner Licensing and Documentation program that was performed in the 17 Regional Examination Centers throughout the nation approximately one year ago.

The NMC receives mariners applications and conducts detailed evaluations to ensure the mariners’ meet applicable requirements for the credentials sought. All mariners are evaluated in three areas including a professional qualification evaluation, a safety and security evaluation, and a medical evaluation.

The NMC has achieved notable progress toward this end since it centralized, including:

  • Increasing the number of credentials issued by 135%
  • Decreasing the average inventory age of applications by 49%
  • Reducing cycle time to conduct professional qualification and safety and security evaluations.
  • Achieving compliance with ISO 9001.

However, the NMC has faced a challenge processing credentials since late fall. A significant portion of delays in processing is attributable to the complexity of completing the application, which requires follow-up communication with mariners to obtain correct or additional information. However, the NMC acknowledges that 16 percent of the delays in processing mariners’ applications are the result of production bottlenecks in the medical evaluation stage of the credential evaluation process.

“Over the past six months the NMC has issued more than 36,000 credentials with 18,000 of those credentials issued in less than 30 days,” said Capt. David Stalfort commanding officer of the Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center. “Unfortunately, the NMC’s average processing time of 80 days is not yet where the Coast Guard wants it to be and that is why we are taking action to remedy the problem and ensure it does not occur in the future.”

The NMC is taking the following actions to remedy the problem:

Immediate Process Changes: NMC has recently implemented enhanced risk-based screening procedures to streamline the medical evaluation process and is prioritizing all credential renewals received to focus on current credentials that have expired or are near expiration. This process is specifically designed to increase the throughput of credentials and keep working mariners employed. Thousands of credentials have been produced and mailed to mariners as a result of these changes.

Surging Resources Aggressively: The Coast Guard is surging personnel to assist with medical screenings and evaluations including: Coast Guard active duty medical staff from around the country; Public Health Service personnel and medically trained Coast Guard Auxiliary members. NMC has also increased the medical staffing contract in its medical evaluations branch to provide additional capacity.

Building Long Term Capabilities: The Coast Guard is taking measures to expand the size of the medical evaluation branch to ensure long-term capacity to meet the medical evaluation demand and ensure efficient processing. The Coast Guard is also looking to enhance the credentialing database to enable electronic workflow to improve both the efficiency and the quality of the screening and evaluation process.

Maritime Industry Outreach: The Coast Guard is aggressively communicating its action plans to industry leaders, marine employers, individual mariners and the public via the NMC call center, the NMC website and the Coast Guard list server. Moreover, NMC is providing its 17 Regional Examination Centers with clearer medical guidelines so they may better serve the mariners in completing their applications and avoiding generally preventable delays.

The NMC encourages mariners to submit their new or renewal applications early to ensure adequate processing time. Mariners with existing medical conditions should add extra time to process and review their requests to allow for the possibility of additional documentation requirements.

For more information about the NMC’s Mariner Licensing and Documentation program visit or the Homeport site at and select Merchant Mariners.

I’m pretty happy with NMC- my appointment for a replacement MMD was Jan 23- got this today!:smiley:

                             Mariner Number
      Application ID             
      Credential Status             ISSUED                                           Transaction Type                 DUPLICATE       
Status Information                     The credential you have applied for has been mailed to you on February 11, 2009. Please allow approximately 2-4 business days for U.S.P.S. 1st class mail delivery.

16 weeks and counting for my license renewal.

Before they started enforcing the new NVIC medical reguirements all of the maritime labor unions and some commercial interests warned the CG about a back log. Were they listening then?

What about the mariner that had to give up their job or could not go back to work due lack of documents, in this economy. A little late!

We have a problem “Houston”. It is not just the issuance of MMD’s. It is a perception problem. CG listens to CG and won’t listen to civilians unless that civilian happens to be a congressman.

The biggest and most glaring example was the coercion of Administrative Law judges to find against us, the civilian mariner 97% of the time. Closest government entity was the FAA at 60%.

Ok the ALJ’s have been spun off but we still have a problem and it is very ingrained. So will someone tell me why civilian aviation is administered by the FAA (DOT) and not the US Air Force (DOD)? In the same breathe tell me why civilian mariners are administered by USCG (DHS) and not MARAD (DOT)?

Another reason why the American mariner needs a [B]strong[/B] Professional Association to represent our interests in Washington

my shortlist of what needs action

  1. medical NVIC backlog & inherent inability to make fair and accurate decisions on a mariner’s medical fitness without actually interviewing and examining the applicant
  2. NMC taking all decision making authority away from REC’s and like above not being able to make fair and accurate decisions on mariner’s license application without actually interviewing the applicant
  3. criminalization of maritime accidents without due process
  4. Marine Safety Inspection and Investigation by imadequately experienced USCG personnel
  5. the employment of Foreign mariners in the US Gulf of Mexico
  6. demanding enforcement of the 12hour work rule
  7. transfer of all Marine Safety activities from the USCG to a new division formed in MarAd

and a whole bunch of others that I am missing but will add when I think of them or feel free to add them yourself

as I have written before as a profession we have two options:

at the rate we are going, we are on the path to death I am afraid

The quality of service offered to mariners as a result of the Coast Guard’s centralizing the licensing program has caused me to believe this “conspiracy” theory: The Coast Guard doesn’t want the responsibility of credentialing mariners.

Really, that makes sense. One of the big elements in the criticisms that caused the centralization is that after the Coast Guard came to fall under the Department of Homeland Security, its new responsibilities lead to the neglect of the functions that reflect its roots in the Department of Transportation, i.e. licensing. In fact, in 2007 the Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (Jim Oberstar D-MN) put forth a proposal that an entirely new government entity be created to take over the Marine Safety duties of the Coast Guard. Admiral Thad Allen successfully refuted this proposal by making the case that these duties are inextricably tied to the other missions of the Coast Guard. This is far truer for the vessel inspections and marine casualty investigations portions of the overall Marine Safety Mission; but whether it is true for the licensing function or not, the centralization is a big step AWAY from the position that Admiral Allen has taken. Not only is the NMC distanced from the rest of the Coast Guard geographically, it also has the majority of its positions filled with employees who have little understanding of the rest of the organization (much less how their work fits in with it).
The more military minded persons in the Coast Guard would probably like to focus on boats and planes and helicopters, and not be worried about desk stuff. It’s probably the case that there are some that do want to retain the duties and some that don’t; and for that reason the ones that don’t cannot admit that openly. Obviously, Mr. Cavo is not one of these people, but I believe they are there both within the NMC and also in various levels higher in the chain of command. This leads to my theory-

The people who would like to see the Coast Guard relieved of the licensing duties intend to gently run the program into the ground.

They will see to it that the service provided gets worse and worse, until the outcry is loud enough that there will be sufficient political pressure to ensure that licensing gets sent elsewhere for good.
Whether you believe my little theory or not, the truth is that the service currently being provided by the NMC is unacceptable, and intervention is necessary. The press release posted above seems to indicate “we are aware of the problem and we are going to fix it,” but the problem has been building for months. If it takes the NMC so long to admit that there is a problem, how long is it going to take them to fix it? And why should leadership at the NMC be trusted to fix the problem, when it was they who created it in the first place?
T[FONT=Times New Roman]hose who are calling for letters to be written to Congress are right, and those who will do so are doing a service to the entire maritime community. If you are currently waiting on a license, congresspersons that represent you will have the greatest interest in keeping you (their constituent) happy. If you know someone who is waiting on their license, let them know that this will help keep them from losing their job or a promotion they deserve. If you are writing letters for the good of the community, I know that there are Congressional Subcommittees that are probably the best people to contact. Go to senatedotgov, click on “Committees,” then click on “Commerce, Science, and Transportation,” on the left side you will see a link for subcommittees, including one for “Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure”. Also go to housedotgov, click on “Committees,” then click on “Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.” In the center near the top is “Subcommittees,” and you can click on the link for the “Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.”[/FONT]

I am with you! There has got to be a reason for this NMC action or inaction.
Unlike you I believe the rest of the interaction our CG has with civilian mariners should be farmed out to another governmental entity (DOT?).

In a nutshell, because they do not know what we do on a daily basis and I for one am tired of teaching.

The heart of the matter is money. Our CG #1 mission is SECURITY not dealing with civilian mariners like you and others that read this forum thread. They moved to W. Virginia to save money for their Security mission. Do I dare say funneling money to security at the expense of documentation and safety inspection?

If this is not the case then why is our CG part of the Dept. of Homeland Security and not Dept. of Transportaion? So why is aviation administered by the DOT and not maritime transportation? Key word is transportation not security.

Don’t get me wrong I believe our CG does a very stand up job with Nav. Aids, SAR, drug interdiction and security.

Yes I will agree with you again. Everyone needs to write their congressman. Thanks for the committee info.

THere was quite a bit of talk a couple years ago about splitting off the safety fuctions of the FAA from the Industry promotion functions. Obviously they fought that and won but I have to wonder it the USCG will not fight having marine safety taken away from them even though it’s pretty clear that they don’t want it? I think it all has to do with losing even one single dollar from their respective budgets.

If it were me, the USCG would be split into each of the respective parts that formed it originally:
[li]Revenue Service (remains as the core of the USCG & DHS)[/li][li]Lifesaving Service (remain with the USCG & DHS)[/li][li]Lighthouse Service (aids to navigation goes to DOT)[/li][li]Steamboat Inspection Service (marine safety and inspection goes to DOT)[/li][/ul]btw, I like it when the word “service” is in a bureau’s name. It clearly says that they are to “serve” the interests of the public who fund their budgets.

Norleen Schumer sent us this clarification:

As of last week, the NMC has given the responsibility of processing an Original or Renewal of an Entry Level MMD’s back to the local Regional Exam Centers.

NMC will still be the “Issuing Port” but, the local REC will process the paperwork by making sure that the mariner does not have any “Physical issues”, “Drug issues” or “Background issues”. If none of these issues are present then the REC will notify the NMC that the document is ready for issue and NMC will proceed.

This will undoubtedly save time for the mariner as well as the company’s waiting to hire them.

All REC’s are now open 5 days a week, some offices are on an “appointment only basis” and others are on a “walk-in” basis. Be sure to check with the local REC to determine which is which for you or your mariners convenience.

Norleen L. Schumer

[quote=gCaptain;9232]Norleen Schumer sent us this clarification:

As of last week, the NMC has given the responsibility of processing an Original or Renewal of an Entry Level MMD’s back to the local Regional Exam Centers.


Keep in mind this is only for OS, Wiper, and Food Handler MMDs without STCW certificate. If you’re reading this forum, you’re probably not “entry level.”

Hello All! My first post here.

Well, I’m 45 days out since I sent in my application for renewal.

I have been checking my status on the Merchant Mariner website and after 30 days of stating “Awaiting assignment to a medical evaluator”, I decided to send them an email asking if there was any update.

To my surprise, I received an email back about two hours later. The news was not what I wanted to hear, Basically it stated that " The medical record has been reviewed nd it has been determined additional information is needed. You will be receiving a medical awaiting information letter."

I’m happy I received a fast response to my email but not happy about a further delays! I’ll be optimistically patient for the next 45 days or so!