Notice to Mariners---Backlog at NMC Increasing

Just got off the phone with the NMC and as of this week the backlog in the medical bureau has increased to a 3-4 MONTH waiting period. As of last friday the backlog was being reported by the NMC at 8 weeks. Be advised that this backlog does not include the time it takes to complete other aspects of the application process. It just means that after receiving your application and completing the background check, which took my package nearly two weeks, your application will sit and wait to be evaluted in the medical bureau for 3-4months.
My application for a MMD/STCW renewal and license raise in grade was submitted in early november and has been “awaiting evaluation by the MEB” since November 25th. These documents expire on January 16. I know that i may have waited to long to submitt my application but I was out at sea until the end of October
Including the applications fee’s, my TWIC card, and the radar renewal class had to take i have spent over $500 dollars on this vacation in order to keep my credentials current. Only to sit on the beach and wait.
Going to sea is a hard profession. But the coast guard is making it impossible.
Anyone having similiar experiences?

I added GMDSS to my STCW last summer and it took them twelve weeks to process that simple, no-fee application.

I turned in my Ballast Control Officer application for an endorsement a little over three weeks ago. It took two weeks to get there and it is awaiting evaluation now. I figured because of the holidays it would be slow so I am not sweating it. I don’t expect much of a delay once it get assigned an evaluator. All I can do is wait and see.

Does that medical backlog include those who have ZERO problems, or just mariners who have a medical issue that needs to be reviewed?

Mine has been at the NMC since Oct. 6th, and is still in Med review, and I have no problems, or issues I should say. I have lost faith!! So much for their new and improved, streamlined process! What a load of crap!!

Time to start writing your House Reps and Senators. This is unacceptable and there has been enough time given NMC to work out the kinks. I’m drafting letters now.

Gee, kinda glad I grabbed my oars and headed inland…

But I am now waiting for my continuity renewal to come back from the black hole at NMC. I’m not gonna give up that piece of paper. May take $$$$ to reactivate it, but I don’t want that door to lock behind me.

After reviewing the Powerpoint presentation at, I am forced to ask, Are they processing the medical side of the applications in a linear fashion? i.e. “first in-first out”? It seems to me, since the NMC IS concerned with metrics, that a more spatial approach would be a good idea. ( reduce backlog, reduce processing time)

  1. For the mariner whose application indicates medical issues, continue the review process as established
  2. For the mariner whose medical screening offers no issues, it should be a simple matter of a quick screen, and pass it up the food chain. If a medical form has no adverse notes on it, it shouldn’t take longer for a trained evaluator to review than it did for my doctor to fill it out.
    This doesn’t help the mariner who DOES need a review, but it may help decrease the backlog. Obviously, this is an oversimplification, but everywhere I’ve ever worked, quickly eliminating the “quick-fix” items gave us time to focus on the big ticket items.
    NMC-5 has the reins on this, not the NMC-2 of our JDCavo, but perhaps he has heard the watercooler rumblings??
    based on data collected ending in 11/08, NMC was aware of the issue, and had submitted a resource proposal for staffing. A quick scan of USAJOBS shows no positions available in NMC. So either the positions have been filled, or the budget people at NMC-3 haven’t gotten their process done yet. Possibly this will be a contracted position, which would not appear on USAJOBS.
    The mariner with a medical indication may say, this isn’t fair, I was here first, and I understand that completely…
    What is best for the most people??

I agree Capt. Anonymous.

I wrote a letter last night to my Congressman, Rep. Peter King, of NY’s 3rd district. He’s also a ranking member on the house Homeland Security Committee, so I am hoping he has some pull with the coast guard.

This really is bureaucracy at it’s worst. A government agency keeping Americans out of work in the midst of a recession. I spoke with a friend last night who woks for a NY Tug operation and he stated that within his company a captain, mate, and a deck hand are all laid off right now because of the backlog at the NMC. They have been unable to get their documents renewed.

I know that this time around I’m screwed and I’m looking for a land based job to help out until I get my documents back god knows when. But still, we need to stand up for ourselves and make sure this doesn’t become the norm at the NMC. It is the Coast Guard that requires us to carry half a dozen documents every time we step on a vessel. We should not be punished for their ineptitude and apathetic approach at helping us to maintain them.

I am considering starting up a formal letter writing campaign to Congress. I’m not sure how many people we could get onboard but I think if we could get enough we might be able make a difference, maybe not much but it’s better than nothing. is a great tool for brining a workforce that is so spread out together to be able accomplish something like this. If anyone has any info on Representatives or Senators they think would be open to helping this cause please let me know.

As far as Retired Rats comments. I agree that there needs to be some discretion used on the part of the NMC and that a “First come first serve” approach is not going to work. First off people who are renewing for continuity, or not sailing on their lIcense to make a living should be put on the bottom of the pile. I’m sure they would understand that there are guys who need their license to get back to work. I feel like every guy that has a 20ft. center console in Florida has a six pack. They should not be in the same pool as professional mariners that makes a living on their credentials.

I know I’m angry and fired up. But to be honest I’m a college graduated, and I worked my ass of to get where I am today. I feel that it is disgraceful for for myself or other professional mariner to be treated in this way. We deserve more!

The CG could dodge their own bullet by issuing a 90 day “grace period” to active mariners, to allow them to keep sailing while their license was in renewal process. Would there be people who tried to manipulate it. Sure there would. Same folks who would complain if you handed them a used $100 bill. Would it create a few problems? Perhaps. Would we be any worse off than we currently are??
Possible issues:
Cut-off date
Define “active mariner”

Other ideas
Anyone under age 50 (at expiration) who holds a top license has them issued for 6 years vice 5 (States and insurance companies start taking a closer look at folks at age 50) Wouldn’t that spead the field a bit??
Too bad they couldn’t return the six-pack issuance to the REC’s

Too bad they couldn’t return the ENTIRE licensing process to the RECs. They had their problems, but delays as we’re seeing today were not the norm.

I am all for going back to the REC’s Yes…they had their hick-ups, but you did get to see an evaluator Face to Face…and things got done! No smoke-blowing. It seems the more we have to pay for the services…the slower they go! When all licensing was free, and you only had to pick a number at the receptionist window to get in…progress was made. Now the Inquisition has taken over, and we are all being burned at the stake.

I just spoke with a retired guardsmen that served as Chief of the REC in Toledo Ohio. He informed me that the NMC only employees one doctor. That means they have ONE man processing the same amount of applications that it used to take SEVENTEEN REC’s to process. He suspects the problem will only get worse.

“I am all for going back to the REC’s”
“They had their problems, but delays as we’re seeing today were not the norm.”

You must have not had your file in Miami!
2 plain renewals in a row, Zero, absolutely zero evaluations, problems, mistakes, missing items, medical, etc. It took me 6 and 8 months respectively to get my documents. Prior to that it took 4 months for a test approval.

Yikes! Miami sounds like a horror movie. I used Honolulu, Seattle, and New Orleans and always got pretty good service. I didn’t always get what I wanted, but it didn’t take them 12 weeks to give me the bad news.

Paragraph 4.d. from NVIC 04-08 discusses that there NOT be any delays due to the new requirements!!!

Thanks Jeffrox I just read it. I’ll be sure to bring that up when I call and email the NMC again on monday.

Last Week I sent an email out over domenet, the SUNY Maritime College Alumni network, in regards to the NMC backlog. Since then I have recieved many emails from mariners going through the same thing. I recieved an email from a captain who submitted his renewal in September and has still not recieved it back. He has lost his permanent post as master due to the backlog and is hoping for a chief mate job when he is finally issued his credentials. I have been gathering lots of information on the NMC and the more you look into it the worse it looks. I am still looking for stories from anyone who has had similiar bad experiences for an article I am putting together. I am also intersted in hearing good experiences.

My son submitted his paperwork mid-September.
Upgrading from OS to AB.

His forms have been at medical since mid-October.
In a fonecon yesterday I was told by the NMC that
medical hasn’t even looked at his application yet.

He will probably have to ship out as OS for 4 more months,
and earn a lot less than he would earn as AB.

Well, I wrote both of my Senators and my Congressman. Mr. Cavo, I dropped your name as someone in the know at NMC so don’t be surprised if you receive correspondence from a Texas Senator’s or Congressman’s office. I’ll be curious to know if they really looked into it or just provide lip service.