Critical Time for the NMC


#1

I would like to bring the following article to the attention of the GCaptain community:

For people that have the time to watch it, the video of the hearing itself is REALLY good. I think this link should take you to the page to view it:

http://transportation.house.gov/hearings/hearingdetail.aspx?NewsID=951

What it all means is that right now is a really critical time for the future of Marine licensing. The House of Representatives is out of session right now, but they will re-convene on September 7th. Sometime after that, Captain Stalfort will again be before Congressman Cummings, trying to respond to the criticisms that have been made of the NMC.

Before that happens, Cummings needs to know that the backlog that caused the initial hearing isn’t just a flap in an otherwise acceptable performance by the NMC. He needs to know that it has been a constant pattern for the NMC to provide terrible service, and he needs to know that whatever band-aids the Captain may be attempting to apply won’t fix the problems.

So write to your Congressperson now! Don’t wait until your transaction at the NMC is being held up before you start writing letters. If you will ever have dealings with the NMC again, or even if you just care about service from the government that is remotely decent, send a letter, or multiple letters. I wrote to Cummings, but honestly I am not sure who is the best person to write. Legislation that could make a difference would need to pass both the House and the Senate, but should you write your own representative, or the persons on the Transportation committee? I am not sure the answer to that.

A motion could be re-started to move the licensing functions out of the Coast Guard to a different part of the government. This would mean the Coasties that are there would be relieved of their duties, and sent on to positions that would probably be more beneficial to their careers anyways. There would be accountability for the civilians there now, who have run the program into the ground.

Maybe the new program could be run by our heralded Mr. Cavo? If he had more control over the situation, I am sure things would improve. What about REC Houston Chief Larry Griffin, who successfully lead the Tiger team (mentioned in the Hearing) in reducing the backlog? How about any of the other civilians with experience in the program, who left in disgust at how things were going: Andy Hammond, Richard Wells, or Norleen Schumer?

Think about it: The person who determines your physical fitness to serve aboard a vessel could be [I]the doctor who actually examines you.[/I] The person who evaluates your qualifications to safely operate could be [I]someone who has actually worked aboard vessels before.[/I]

The stories of incompetence, inconsistency, and unresponsiveness abound on this site, and on other sites as well. Don’t let Congress make decisions that will have such an impact without knowing how bad it is. Don’t accept the poor service as an inevitability. It doesn’t have to be this way…


#2

Conspiracy_Theorist - Would you happen to have the email address of Congressman Cummings? I would love to drop him a line or ten about the inconsistencies of the NMC and their decisions. And I am sure many others would like to also.

Brian


#3

I don’t have a direct email address for Congressman Cummings. Here is the contact page from his House.gov page:

http://www.house.gov/cummings/contact.shtml

There is also this page, which lists [I]phone numbers[/I] for both the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation:

http://transportation.house.gov/subcommittees/maritime_transportation.aspx


#4

[quote=Conspiracy_Theorist;17271]I would like to bring the following article to the attention of the GCaptain community:

For people that have the time to watch it, the video of the hearing itself is REALLY good. I think this link should take you to the page to view it:

http://transportation.house.gov/hearings/hearingdetail.aspx?NewsID=951

What it all means is that right now is a really critical time for the future of Marine licensing. The House of Representatives is out of session right now, but they will re-convene on September 7th. Sometime after that, Captain Stalfort will again be before Congressman Cummings, trying to respond to the criticisms that have been made of the NMC.

Before that happens, Cummings needs to know that the backlog that caused the initial hearing isn’t just a flap in an otherwise acceptable performance by the NMC. He needs to know that it has been a constant pattern for the NMC to provide terrible service, and he needs to know that whatever band-aids the Captain may be attempting to apply won’t fix the problems.

So write to your Congressperson now! Don’t wait until your transaction at the NMC is being held up before you start writing letters. If you will ever have dealings with the NMC again, or even if you just care about service from the government that is remotely decent, send a letter, or multiple letters. I wrote to Cummings, but honestly I am not sure who is the best person to write. Legislation that could make a difference would need to pass both the House and the Senate, but should you write your own representative, or the persons on the Transportation committee? I am not sure the answer to that.

A motion could be re-started to move the licensing functions out of the Coast Guard to a different part of the government. This would mean the Coasties that are there would be relieved of their duties, and sent on to positions that would probably be more beneficial to their careers anyways. There would be accountability for the civilians there now, who have run the program into the ground.

Maybe the new program could be run by our heralded Mr. Cavo? If he had more control over the situation, I am sure things would improve. What about REC Houston Chief Larry Griffin, who successfully lead the Tiger team (mentioned in the Hearing) in reducing the backlog? How about any of the other civilians with experience in the program, who left in disgust at how things were going: Andy Hammond, Richard Wells, or Norleen Schumer?

Think about it: The person who determines your physical fitness to serve aboard a vessel could be [I]the doctor who actually examines you.[/I] The person who evaluates your qualifications to safely operate could be [I]someone who has actually worked aboard vessels before.[/I]

The stories of incompetence, inconsistency, and unresponsiveness abound on this site, and on other sites as well. Don’t let Congress make decisions that will have such an impact without knowing how bad it is. Don’t accept the poor service as an inevitability. It doesn’t have to be this way…[/quote]

Well said, I couldn’t have said it better.


#5

[quote=Conspiracy_Theorist;17271]I would like to bring the following article to the attention of the GCaptain community:

For people that have the time to watch it, the video of the hearing itself is REALLY good. I think this link should take you to the page to view it:

http://transportation.house.gov/hearings/hearingdetail.aspx?NewsID=951

What it all means is that right now is a really critical time for the future of Marine licensing. The House of Representatives is out of session right now, but they will re-convene on September 7th. Sometime after that, Captain Stalfort will again be before Congressman Cummings, trying to respond to the criticisms that have been made of the NMC.[/quote]

Okay, folks… the above mentioned hearing is scheduled for next Wednesday October 7th.

http://transportation.house.gov/hearings/hearingDetail.aspx?NewsID=1020

Give the Committee a call so that your voice can be heard:
(202) 225-4472


#6

[quote=Conspiracy_Theorist;18900]Okay, folks… the above mentioned hearing is scheduled for next Wednesday October 7th.

http://transportation.house.gov/hearings/hearingDetail.aspx?NewsID=1020

Give the Committee a call so that your voice can be heard:
(202) 225-4472[/quote]

I will certainly be watching. It shouldn’t take a prod from a Congressman or Senator to make people more efficient in their jobs…


#7

The hearing is being broadcast live (Weds. 10/7/09, 1 PM EDT), you can view it at http://transportation.house.gov/subcommittees/maritime_transportation.aspx


#8

Dammit. Gonna miss it. Have to be on the bridge till 1600 hours.


#9

I thought you were the boss…


#10

[QUOTE=Shellback;19115]I thought you were the boss…[/QUOTE]

Yeah, that is true, but I always take the least experienced person in the bridge team on my watch, and work the phone with the client and office during business hours. During rig moves, particularly at our current location with subsea assets all over the bottom… takes a little experience. So, I have to stay on the bridge to stay on top of everything. My day starts at 0400 hrs with a round of the engine room and coffee, then to the bridge for the morning report, a quick workout, shower, then back to the bridge to relieve the watch at 0800 till 1600. Unfortunately, the boss works a little extra. I think that was one of my last surprises moving up.


#11

Just messing with you…
I know you well enough on here to know what a professional you really are and would expect nothing less…I don’t care what Lee says, to the contrary…:wink:

BTW, I like your policy of taking the least experienced person up to the bridge with you…


#12

If you missed it you can still go back and watch the video. The link is here:

http://transportation.house.gov/hearings/hearingDetail.aspx?newsid=1020

A quick summary is that the NMC cleared its backlog with the use of a Tiger team, which Congressman Cummings referred to as “superstars”. There were some medical issues that were discussed at the end; but the biggest thing I got out of it was that the USCG had done a good job, and the Subcommittee just wanted to make sure that planning would keep such events from taking place in the future.

I was suprised on a couple of levels. First of all, I really didn’t think the NMC was doing as well as what the Subcommittee stated. Second, I didn’t think that the Command was CAPABLE of doing so well. If the experts that came in did such a great job, why didn’t the USCG do more to grant them permanent positions at the NMC?

I still have a hard time patting them on the back for a processing time that is “moving towards 30 days” when initially Capt. Stalfort promised a 7-10 turnaround…

I hope that the trusted agent system works out well. Adm. Cook referred to a system where an employer could submit applications on behalf of mariners. Is this what we get out of the Turbo Tax promise, or is there going to be more to come on this?

Everything addressed in the hearing had to do with processing efficiency, but have they done anything to improve knowledge of their staff and the consistency of their evaluations? I am certain that for everyone who posts to these forums about some ridiculous requirement, there are several applicants who got what they asked for without anyone realizing that they weren’t qualified. When one of those people drive a vessel into a pier, the investigation will read something like the reports coming out of the Madoff scandal. “Oh, the regulators were untrained and inexperienced.”

I called the Subcommittee prior to the hearing, and the staffer I spoke with said that reactions to the hearing must be submitted within five business days. They can be emailed to lucinda.lessley@mail.house.gov

Considering how the hearing went so well for the USCG, I really don’t have that much of a response. I am still really angry about how badly I got screwed by the NMC during its centralization :mad: But I guess if there hasn’t been accountability for that by now, there really isn’t going to be.


#13

It was short, much shorter than the last one. It was mostly a lot of back patting to the Admiral and the Captain for submitting a positive report regarding questions from the last session. The evaluation time has been reduced to 30 days (snort) and the backlog of applications is now none existent.
We can’t prove otherwise and I would like to believe the positive reports to be true. Our main bitch has been the interpretation of the CG Policy Letters especially PL 01-02. It was not mentioned today nor in the last meeting but I am assuming that this issue was just a fragment of the whole picture so there were no details in the session.
Congressman’s Cummins cell phone rang about two thirds of the way through the session and he exited the premises. He does a good job and I believe that if he didn’t take that call he would have required more information from Admiral Cook and Captain Stalfort, USCG.
There was some emphasis put on the possibility of requiring all Merchant Seaman to submit a Physical every two years instead of every five years or when submitting an application for upgrade. Nothing written in stone there.
I guess reading the written reports would be the best way to know what actually took place in the session as written reports a most always more comprehensive than what is actully seen to happen during such sessions.
Maybe someone else has a different take on the subject…


#14

[QUOTE=stevefoster;19183]…submit a Physical every two years instead of every five years or when submitting an application for upgrade…[/QUOTE]

Thanks. Since I have to submit a physical every year now, I guess that doesn’t matter…one thing nice about bringing the Dino Chouest into Fourchon, or any vessel over 1600 tons Domestic, you are “acting in the capacity of pilot” and that requires a yearly physical as if you were a pilot.


#15

The dept of Transportation, who also over see’s commercial ground transportation, requires drivers to have physicals at 2 year intervals already…


#16

I just didn’t see that the major issues at the NMC were addressed:

  1. Consistency of evaluators
  2. Knowledge of CG policy and Merchant Marine jobs
  3. Avoiding the backlog probems in the future

As long as the NMC is allowed to investigate and analyze their own work, the answers will be the same, “We are committed to the system, it is getting better, we are making progress toward our goals.” Without an outside investigation, the nightmare of backlogs will rear its head again in the not too distant future and there is little to nothing that will change the utter lack of knowledge about their OWN POLICIES that has hampered so many mariners recently.

“Keep the pointy end forward and the twirly thing spinning in back.”