I’ve been back and forth with NMC and their 3rd party contractor for a month now and need a sanity check. I possess a 50 ton Master Inland license. I now have the sea service for Near Coastal. I also have enough sea service holding the 50 ton to qualify for 100 tons. Seemed simple enough to make both these changes at once. Wrong. First sign of trouble I noticed was on the application status the transaction type was “raise of grade”. It’s pretty clear to me based on 46 CFR 10.223 that both removal of geographic limitations and tonnage increases are modifications, not raises of grade. Next I’m told my sea service only qualifies me for 25 tons, with them citing the requirements for an original endorsement. I’m told the requirements for increasing tonnage do not apply because I am “changing waters”. This seems absolutely bizarre to me. I’ve never seen anything in any of their checklists or the CFR about tonnage being water specific. So according to them I qualify for both changes separately, but if I combine them, not only am I not but my tonnage will actually go down. Am I crazy here? Anybody have experience with something like this? Thanks
I believe that NMC treats the 100 GRT Inland and 100 GRT NC as two separate endorsements. Therefore, you would need to ask for a modification of you 50 GRT inland to 100 GRT inland and also ask for the separate increase in scope to add NC at whatever tonnage you are qualified to get.
In this case, it sounds like they would give you 100 GRT Inland and a separate endorsement for 50 GRT NC on the same MMC. Then you need to increase the NC to 100 down the road and they will take the Inland endorsement off.
I have learned a couple of things from dealing with the NMC:
Always use a good license consultant, and let him try to educate the inexperienced coal miner’s daughters with no nautical knowledge at NMC.
The NMC tends to get confused when you ask for more than one endorsement at the same time, especially if there is anything unusual or complicated about your application. An application becomes unusual when anything about It does not fit neatly into a clear and unambiguous section of the CFRs.
Turn this over to a license consultant (use the search function on this forum or google).
Consider dropping your request for Near Coastal. First, get the increase to 100 tons Inland, then submit a new application for 100 tons Near Coastal. Once you have any endorsement for 100 tons, you make it easy for the evaluators at NMC to just assume that the next endorsement probably ought to have a tonnage limit consistent with your other endorsements.
The USCG has a ridiculous fetish for GRT tonnage, but it’s not a good indicator of the actual size of a vessel, or the skills required to run it. However, you will have to fight this tonnage bias all of your life. The best thing you can do is to get some seatime on vessels over 100 GRT on Near Coastal or Oceans routes (the largest tonnage possible): fishing vessels, yachts, tugboats, research vessels, OSVs, ferries, etc.
In defense of the NMC, I will say that I consider a Near Coastal license to be in a completely different league than an Inland license. To me they are completely different categories of licenses, not a mere “increase in scope.”
You can ask NMC for a “reconsideration” of their decision. This is the first step of the appeal process and escalates the matter to higher level staff. Asking here will not get you any closer to resolution.
NMC doesn’t have “3rd party contractors.” The evaluators are regular “GS” government employees (that’s why they weren’t working during the recent furlough/government shutdown). The call center staff are contractors, but not "3rd party’ they are under the direct supervision and direction of NMC military and federal civilian staff.
As I have said several times before, a successful Request for Reconsideration (using a good license consultant) took 11 months for me. Four months of my delay occurred when the NMC suspended processing Requests for Reconsideration entirely in order to detail the NMC “reconsideration staff” to help with a backlog of regular applications.
That is far above normal/average/median. They typically take 30 to 60 days. But whatever it takes, the clock doesn’t start until you request it. You’re not going to get NMC to say they read about it on gCaptain, thought about it some more, and decided to change their decision sua sponte.
My recent reconsideration request of last June took over three months to get answered. So I agree with tugsailor - you should not mention this word unless you absolutely have to and have plenty of time to waste.
As for original poster’s question, I am fairly confident that my learlier answer is correct. According to NMC, he will not qualify for the larger tonnage under the new endorsement. He can get his 100 GRT Inland and a separate 50 GRT NC on the same MMC. Upgrading the 50 GRT then starts all over.
So how would you get a quicker resolution? Just curious as I only work with them on this stuff, so what do I know?
Yeah it was a big mistake not using a consultant from the beginning. Used one before but had the most painless experience on my upgrade without one so I thought this would be similar.
It certainly feels like a different league. I’d have no problem if it was identified as such in the CFR or anywhere else really. Honestly thought it was until I was figuring out which fee to pay. Feel like I’d have been better off researching this less.
Thanks for the advice and the laugh!
I only deal with license consultants on appeals of NMC decisions, so I cannot speak to their efficacy on other matters. In my experience (with appeals), they don’t make a difference. All appeals get a complete de novo review regardless of what is submitted and by who. It’s not like a Court where only the issues and arguments briefed and submitted by the appellant are considered. A 20-page brief from a consultant gets the same consideration as “I appeal” scrawled with a sharpie on the back of a Chuck-E-Cheese napkin. The success rate for consultants is no higher than that for mariners acting pro se. It might be lower, but that’s probably because they deal with harder, less clear matters.
Oof. Yeah no time for that. I needed this weeks ago. All my back and forth has been with the call center. Just today it was sent to an evaluator but based on what I’m hearing they will say the same. Thank you.
If your application is still in front of a NMC evaluator, get a consultant involved right away. The evaluator hasn’t said a final no yet, and a consultant may be able to help him to reach a favorable decision.
The consultant speaks the USCG jargon and they have a lot more knowledge and experience than most of the NMC evaluators do. The consultants deal with NMC every day. They know people on a first name basis and have direct emails and phone numbers for some of the evaluators.
If the evaluator correctly denies you application, a consultant can help you understand why. You would be wrong to file a frivolous Request for Reconsideration. That just gums up the system, and might detract from your credibility in the event of a future request.
If you chose to pursue a Request for Reconsideration, a consultant can prepare that clearly, concisely, and with all the proper jargon and CFR and policy manual citations, which makes it more persuasive and easier to process. You cannot do that. As I understand it, the person(s) reviewing the Requests for Reconsideration are just more senior evaluator(s).
If you chose to Appeal, JDCavo has told you exactly how to do it yourself. But please, do not waste his time with frivolous appeals.
They aren’t. They are higher pay grade staff who review and draft a response. The response does not go out until it is reviewed and approved by the Depuyy Director. That is part of the reason for an increase in response time, since last year there is a new Deputy who takes a more active roile in the process.
Frivolous appeals are easy. I draft a response to those in a Big Chief Tablet with a (brick red) crayon.
I’m glad you asked. From my experience, the hold-up when working with NMC for anything other than a simple renewal is a communication issue / misunderstanding on behalf of either the applicant or evaluator. This all used to be resolved in the pre-NMC days when you could submit an application in person and talk through any questions either of you had.
Unfortunately, now when applications are submitted by e-mail, the first opportunity an applicant has to interact with the evaluator is a clarification request letter that comes via snail mail. Why can’t we switch to e-mail for delivery of these letters?
But if the applicant can break through the barrier and have an actual discussion of the issues with the evaluator either by e-mail or telephone, usually the misunderstanding can be cleared-up in under three minutes.
Yes, reconsideration is a nice process to have in your back pocket. But that process means they do a complete new evaluation with a different evaluator and then it has to go through the office chief for final determination. I’d much rather talk directly with the evaluator. Sadly, that is not possible for most applicants.
But wouldn’t it be nice if they changed the process so that if you wanted to clear things up, you could schedule a call with the evaluator? I don’t think that option would be abused and actually could end up saving everyone (including NMC) valuable time.
That is quite an amusing nugget of jurisprudence.