License OR MMD - The USCG Responds

Fred Fry (of Maritime Monday fame) went straight to the Commandant last week to get a final word on the latest MMD news. This will all be posted tomorrow on the blog but I wanted to cross post it here as I know it’s an important topic:

Guest Post
Jeffrey Lantz
Coast Guard Director of Commercial Regulations and Standards

Merchant Mariner Credentials and Licenses

Yesterday, 16 March 2009, the Coast Guard promulgated the Final Rule titled Consolidation of Merchant Mariner Qualification Credentials, commonly referred to the MMC Rule. Through this rulemaking multiple merchant mariner qualification documents will be consolidated into one credential, which is significantly different than the current version. Instead of one or several large certificates that resemble a diploma, the MMC resembles a passport. The Coast Guard did this for many reasons, including ease for mariners to maintain and provide proof of all qualifications and to meet international standards.

However the old licenses are quite impressive and suitable for framing and some mariners are suggesting the Coast Guard continue to also issue them for sentimental, historical and traditional reasons.

The Coast Guard considered whether or not to continue issuing the current certificates; not for proof of qualifications but for sentimental and traditional reasons. The Coast Guard asked the Merchant Personnel Advisory Committee (MERPAC) to consider the alternatives for MMC format. MERPAC recommended that the MMC be a booklet similar in size and design to a U.S. passport. MERPAC also recognized that the current form of license has traditional and sentimental value to many mariners, and recommended that a “suitable for framing copy of the license” remain an option that a mariner can choose to obtain for a nominal fee.

There are numerous factors to consider in deciding whether or not to also provide a “suitable for framing copy of the license.” These include the availability of Coast Guard resources, including personnel, paper stock, hardware, software and equipment, and the process for determining and collecting fees. And as a rulemaking process matter, since this traditional document would not be considered a required or a valid credential, we would need to address other administrative and legal issues that go beyond the Merchant Mariner Qualification Credentials final rule.

However, we know this is an important issue to many mariners. Traditional Coast Guard licenses also proudly adorn the walls of the Coast Guardsmen who have earned them nationwide. The Coast Guard continues to look at this issue from all angles and today’s MMC Rule does not preclude a “suitable for framing copy of the license” at a later date provided all administrative and legal issues are addressed. What the rule does do is provide for a single easily issued, maintained and updated credential aligned with international standards to certify the qualifications of the holder.

I appreciate the opportunity to provide this information to your readers and your continued sharing of information relavent to the professional mariner and Coast Guard operations.

Jeffrey Lantz
Coast Guard Director of Commercial Regulations and Standards

This is an official U.S Coast Guard posting for the public’s information. Our posting does not endorse this site or anything on it, including links to other sites, and we disclaim responsibility and liability for its contents.

Looks like I missed getting the “Booklet” by 26 days…I would have rather had it…

I think that’s good medium.