NMC Disaster

I’m still waiting on mine in the mail after 2 months. Had to pass up 3 job calls. Is sending a letter to my congressman the only recourse? What was life like before the NMC?

I just wrote to my local congressman about this crap. Ive never done that before and doubt anything will come of it but if enough people raised alarm about it surely something would have to be done. Restructuring or local offices at the port cities. Useless agency doesnt need to be getting that payment.gov money and tax money just to contract out their work.

Prior to 2009 that’s exactly how it was done. The RECs handled everything and you were also face to face with the actual people who physically printed your license.

The NMC was supposed to streamline everything and make it more consistent (along with the transition to a passport-style MMC) but the real kicker was Sen Robert Byrd’s successful ploy at bringing more government jobs to West Virginia.

Good luck trying to change it back…


Another reason for the change were those few but memorable instances when local personnel were bribed to hand out out licenses fraudulently. The idea was that personnel in a centralized office would have no personal contact with applicants.

1 Like

Do you think that is still not happening?

1 Like

Now they bribe staff at the schools to issue a course certificate saying that they attended a course and passed an exam. The license is issued without question.

Most of the schools are competing on pass rate. They make that sure almost everyone passes.

The way the USCG has farmed out exams invites fraud.

The NMC is deliberately understaffed to save money because of budget constraints (laugh laugh). It’s staffed by a steady stream of incompetent affirmative action hires, with absolutely no interest in the job, that move on to better federal jobs as fast as they can. Working at NMC is just a stepping stone.

What could possible be wrong with a system like this?


I mean, when you walk in Monday morning and the first thing they do is have you check to make sure your name is spelled correctly on your certificate….


Some time ago, I took BT and Firefighting Revalidation at a large reputable school. With tuition, airfare and hotels it cost about $2000.

That’s about what I spent to take two 5 day original courses years ago

People who could not swim a stroke passed. People that could not put on a survival suit without assistance and 5 minutes passed. People who could not climb into the life raft (at least half the class) passed. People who could barely move in turnout gear and used up their air before they got into the burning space passed.

The advanced fire course was taught by a retired fireman that had no idea what kind of ship was in the plan.

The whole thing was an expensive waste of time and money.


Completed my latest renewal & last upgrade. I did not use a license consultant or service. Simple stuff that didn’t involve testing. I only had to submit the regular run of the mill docs, 2 STCW refresher course certs & at least 1 year of 1AE seatime. 2.5 months, 78 days start to finish.

6.21.22 Emailed application to REC.
6.28.22 Application sent to NMC.
7.12.22 Cleared the safety and suitability vetting to wait for a PQEB.
8.17.22 PQEB starts evaluating.
8.29.22 Evaluation finished, approved to print.
8.30.22 NMC says it’s in the mail.
9.6.22 Arrived at my home.

Congratulations on the upgrade chief. Curious of that gap of time between the 17th and the 29th. I know there were two weekends in that time span but seems a little long once all the info is with the evaluator…and you didn’t mention them asking for more info. Like I said, just makes me wonder if there were any hang ups on their end. Seems like that part of it should have went quicker…then again I’m assuming your evaluator was actually at work all those business days I’m referring to.

1 Like

Not chief, chefe de maquinas or Jefe de máquinas anymore. I sailed 2 decades as chief with a Chief Engineer Limited & DDE Unlimited but not anymore. I’m still happy being an assistant nowadays.

Me too about the gap. Thats the longest I’ve ever had an evaluator set on my application. I kept expecting to get a letter, email or status update asking for more information but nothing? I thought I would give it a few more days & send an inquiry but didn’t have to, approved. No additional information needed. But oddly enough, I don’t think this has been my longest glitch free renewal/upgrade. I think during that stcw gap-closing fiasco, in 2002 & maybe after Katrina it took about this much or same amount of time. I don’t think 78 days is that bad because I was expecting 90-120 days. Lower expectations is the key to contentment I guess?


I am pretty sure the 17th is not the date PQEB started evaluating, it’s the date it was forwarded to PQEB and placed in their queue.

A couple of simple reforms at NMC would greatly improve the situation.

  1. Offer an expedited 10 day service for a higher fee. $500? $1000? Whatever?

  2. Offer “instant” in-person by appointment processing for people that really need or want it, at a higher fee.

If necessary, the in-person service could be limited to applications being presented by an “accepted” license consultant, or an approved school. Heaven forbid that USCG licensing personnel might to have to meet an actual Mariner in person.

  1. Require that “approved” schools that provide these ridiculously expensive, high profit courses and administer tests on behalf of the USCG, also provide application prescreening to make sure their students applications are complete and in proper form.

  2. Automatically grant and issue all entry level MMC applications (OS, Wiper, Foodhandler) to anyone with a TWIC card, TSA Precheck, Hazmat truck drivers, or similar federal credentials that were subject to security and suitability screening.

There is no need for additional duplicative USCG security and suitability screening for entry level MMCs. The USCG could screen a sample, say 5%, of applications to identify problem areas. There are no professional qualifications for entry level documents.


WTF? How about if they stop taking our money at all until they can turn around the average application inside of 10-days? Better than that, maybe they should pay mariners a penalty for every day after 10.

The NMC is a failed Kafkaesqe dystopia and that ugly building in WV needs to be razed and USCG needs to revert to the REC system that existed before. At least then you could look someone in the eye and and he understood that any failure to deliver on the REC’s part was fekin with a man’s livelihood.


I think expedited applications at a higher fee is a feasible proposal. just as they do for passports.

I certainly agree that NMC is a failed program that should not be allowed to charge a dime for its disservice, and ought to be shutdown, but I doubt that will happen .


The passport system isn’t comparable. Yes, there is an extra fee you can pay is you need an expedited passport. But normal service is 7-10 weeks while expedited is 4-6. NMC is taking over 3 months. If that happened with a passport, citizens and Congress would be up in arms. As NMC only affects a very small group of Mariners, nobody else seems to notice.

If they charge a fee to expedite, I can only imagine that would knock the 3 month wait for normal service up to a six month wait. So sure, it would temporarily work for those who paid it, but it would pretty much then force everyone else to pay, as well.

And then we would be right back to where we are now, but paying higher fees.


Maybe put in for renewal 9 months ahead of time? This would give one 4+ years to prepare. Should be adequate.


That’s me, I started a little more than 9m ahead of time. It’s a good idea for mariners who work 2-4 month hitches to renew 9-12 months in advance if they want to stay in rotation. If you want more time off, wait til the last minute to renew, stay home longer & blame the NMC.


If you are concerned about so-called “license creep”, the Coast Guard will post date a new MMC up to 8 months to correspond to the expiration date of the MMC being renewed. See 46 CFR 10.205(a).


Adaptation to the current climates and conditions is the name of the game in this industry, in more ways than one in my personal opinion. License renewal is no different. Even before the switch was made to the NMC, I always began preparing for my renewal at the one year mark. These little orange books are our livelihood and waiting to the last minute to schedule a required class or letting your medical certificate expire are totally down to your own personal responsibility. Sure, the system is flawed and inefficient, but that is the case pretty much everywhere.