Sometimes There Is A God -- A Story of Sea Time Lost (and then found)

Chances are that the facts of my case probably don’t come up very often. I am writing them down here so that maybe someone will benefit.

Basic background facts:

  1. I started working offshore in 1978. In 1979 I received an AB, and in 1980 I received a 100 ton Ocean Operator License.

  2. At the end of 1983, I quit boats to go to college. Presumably never to return.

  3. Fast forward 13 years to 1996.

  4. In 1996 I returned to boats and got my AB ticket renewed with a little open book CG test. My 100 ton was expired but could be renewed with a new complete exam. I put in an application for the 100 ton while I was there at the REC. My file however was in someplace called the “archive” and the evaluator said he would try to have it retrieved.

  5. The file was found, my application was approved and after only 56 days from my return to boats, I had my 2nd issue 100 ton license in my hot little hand.

  6. In 1997 I upgraded to 500 Ton Master without problem.

  7. Fast forward to 2010 where the story gets interesting.

  8. In June of 2010 I applied for an upgrade (Increase in Scope I now know it to be called) to 1600 ton master. I received a letter outlining my difficiencies. I do not have enough time on vessels of over 100 GT! Somehow, all of my sea time prior to my first 100 ton issue (1980) is missing from my file. All of this old time was on vessels of over 100 GT.

I try various things without success and then I decided (with some inspired help) to go look for the missing sea time. Not even my current employer who was incidently my employer for much of the time in question has maintained these records. A friend of mine who has used a license consultant gives me her number and tells me to cal her.

So I called Jewel Smith, of San Diego and outline my problem for her. She is a very nice lady, but she tells me that she doesn’t think she can help me. However she offers the off the cuff advice of checking with any old REC’s which may have had my file in the past as well as a recheck of the dreaded “archive”. I am discouraged but I decide to at least try these avenues.

The one REC I check with does not have any of my stuff. They did everything according to procedure and my wishes at the time I dealt withn them in 1996. The “archive” is my only hope.

Two weeks ago I called the NMC and was told that the had received my LEGACY FILE but the evaluator hadn’t had a chance to look at in detail. I am told however that there is a LOT of seatime in it. I am told to call back in a week or so and check.

Last Thursday I called back to the NMC. The guy who answered the phone did some checking and was at least able to tell me the critical numbers: the missing sea time had been found! I had plenty of 100 GT time now. And yesterday I received the official email notice that my Approval to Test letter had been found.

I don’t know why it should be necessary to personally have to track down these records this way, but If I could do it, maybe someone else could too. For me at least, it was a happy ending.


LOL. Nearly 100 views and not a single comment… I thought it remarkable that a) there would need to be a review of 30+ year old ducuments, and b) that said documents should somehow be successfully located. I imagined a dusty box with my name on it sitting in some government warehouse somewhere.

“…my Approval to Test letter had been found.” This should have course said, “…my Approval to Test letter had been ISSUED.”