USCG recognition on foreign stcw certificates and license

To be pedantic the UK is a major ship owning and operating country.

As far as registers are concerned the PDF here is enlightening:

I also note that the US isn’t MLC compliant (fully or otherwise) which would answer so of the queries I have had about this forum :slight_smile:

The United States has not ratified MLC 2006, and as a result, the Coast Guard will not enforce compliance with MLC 2006 on U.S. vessels or foreign vessels while navigating within U.S. waters. Despite the fact that the United States has not ratified MLC 2006, U.S.-flag vessels are exposed to potential port State action under the “no more favorable treatment clause” as discussed above under the background section. In light of this potential risk, which could include detention at a port in a country that is a party to MLC 2006, the Coast Guard encourages shipowner and operator compliance with MLC 2006. To that end, the U.S. Coast Guard published the MLC Notice.

This from the article here .

Ooops I missed one:

I notice that some of the “offending” FOCs, like Marshall Island and Malta is “all green” on the Flag State Performance list, as is all the European countries with a second register.

But of course they don’t have as strict rules as those imposed by USCG on US flag ships. :astonished:

That’s incorrect. The US is MLC compliant, just not a signatory to the treaty. US ships that sail foreign are also required to have MLC certificates.

Required by who?? Aren’t they ADVISED by USCG to carry a “Letter of Compliance” to avoid being detained in foreign ports, rather than a MLC Certificate??

How can a non-signatory Flag State issue a MLC Certificate anyhow??

U.S. vessel can get a Statement of Voluntary Compliance-Maritime Labour Convention (SOVC-MLC).

I sail world-wide and I’ve never had an issue with PSC using the SOVC-MLC that was issued to my ship.

In any case the union contract requirements are in general higher then the MLC requirements.


Statements of Voluntary Compliance (SOVC)

Frequently asked Questions

Q. Will foreign port state control officers in MLC ratifying nations accept a SOVC as
evidence the vessel is in compliance with the MLC?

A. Foreign port state control authorities are under no obligation to accept a SOVC as
evidence of MLC compliance. However, the Coast Guard has sent letters to each of the Port State Control MOU authorities detailing our voluntary MLC inspection program and the issuance of SOVCs for those vessels found to be in compliance.

Aren’t those meant to be a stopgap solution and valid for 6 month only, not a permanent arrangement?

It’s in the NVIC:

Voluntary compliance certificates shall be valid for a period of 5 years and subject to an
intermediate inspection between the second and third anniversary date of the certificate.

OK thanks.

I must have come across something else that was used at the time of implementation of MLC in Aug. 2013.
US flag vessels are few and far between in S.E.Asia these days so I didn’t do many inspections on those in the last few years of my active working days.

When I go to S. America I get told they see few U.S. flag ship, I haven’t heard that in S.E. Asia which is on my regular run. I call into Singapore at least once just about every trip, I’d guess that Singapore would have one or two U.S. flag vessel at any one time given that several U.S. ships trade in that part of the world.

I did a major shipyard at Jurong a while back, we were one of two U.S. flag ships in that yard.

Foreign Port State Control.


One of the reasons that flags of convenience were created, and are still used, is that owner’s believe that US law gives seafarers too many rights, and exposes owners to too many obligations.

Seafarers on US flag ships, whether they are American or not, certainly have better pay and more rights, that most other foreign seafarer’s, which is much more costly for US owners.

The problem is that in the US the government does not protect seafarers and enforce their rights. It’s up to seafarers themselves (or their unions) to hire lawyers and file “complaints” under collective bargaining, and/or in the courts to enforce their rights.

It’s often not possible, or practical, for a seaman to find and fund a lawyer and spend years pursuing a claim in the courts.

In many ways, seaman actually have more practical protection under the MLC, than under US law, provided the flag state or port state actually enforce the law.

Last year, we saw a pathetic debacle where America seamen, on an anchored US flag ship were stranded in a US port without pay, or a way to even get ashore, much less repatriation home. The US government as both the flag state, and the port state, did absolutely nothing to help them. Their worthless scumbag union, MEBA (which many consider the best among the corrupt and pathetic US maritime unions), was very slow to respond or do anything to get the crew ashore and repatriate them. I hear that MEBA did eventually provide lawyers to get the crew paid many months later by the bankruptcy trustee.

I have heard about another recent case, where a seaman was injured on a non-union US flag tugboat owned by a scumbag Seattle company. It was not a painful or long lasting injury, and the seaman returned to work in two months, but it required very expensive medical care. The seamen’s medical insurance plan covered most of the medical expenses, but the seaman was billed by doctors, hospitals and labs for $10,000 in uncovered expenses. The seaman submitted the bills to the employer, but got the runaround for 12 months. Medical Bill Collectors harassed the seaman and his good credit was destroyed. Although a US flag employer is required to pay 100% of medical bills under the law, The employer never paid anything, and refused to submit a claim to the P&I insurer. The seaman spoke with several lawyers, but none of them would take the case because $10,000 was too small for them to make any money on it. The company eventually fired the seaman for badmouthing them about not paying his on the job injury related medical bills.

So I have to ask: Is the US really MLC compliant?

Maybe in theory, but not in reality.


That would be a sweet deal to wait till the company stops paying to sign up with the union. It’d be like waiting till you crash your car to get auto insurance.

Didn’t realise that the US Unions were that powerful…

The farther up the union ladder you go the quicker the lines between Corporate and Union blur

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I really have to agree with @Kennebec_Captain on this point. The MEBA won the right to represent the Mates and Engineers (sans Captain and Chief) back in March '17 and the company goes tits-up a couple of months later. I would venture to say the company likely knew what was happening and when presented with the pledge cards (or whatever) didn’t care.

What I don’t know is whether or not the company and MEBA had yet reached and signed a contract. Winning representation and having a contract to work under is not the same thing. Had the company started paying into the various plans? If there was no contract yet agreed upon they probably hadn’t. Had any of the mates and engineers started paying dues or whatever mechanism occurs when a company is “organized”?

It seems to me the MEBA was hoping to get a company under its banner. The mates and engineers were hoping to put an end to a lot of BS that was going on. Both were dealt a shit sandwich.

MEBA got the crew to sign pledge cards, organized that company, Transatlantic Lines, and won an NLRB supervised election to be confirmed as the crew’s legal exclusive bargaining agent, a process that takes many months and was completed before the company folded.

MEBA knew it was a terrible company with a terrible owner and terrible ships many years before it voluntarily chose to organize the company. Everyone on the waterfront knew that Transatlantic Lines has been at risk of financial collapse for years. MEBA knew that there would be a transitional period between the time when it was confirmed as the lawful exclusive collective bargaining agent and the successful completion of a union contract with the employer that would result in routine payroll deductions of union dues. Nonetheless, MEBA voluntarily undertook the legal duty to represent all the Transatlantic Lines officers and crew (including some who were purportedly long term dues paying MEBA members), and made them all the usual promises to represent them. The same as every union does with every other company that it organizes.

When one ship was arrested in Jacksonville by foreign creditors with the crew unpaid, and the other ship was detained by the USCG in the Long Beach anchorage as unsafe and unseaworthy, with the crew unpaid, MEBA wouldn’t even send the port agent out to talk to the crew on the ship, or hire a bum boat to evacuate them off the ship.

MEBA’s failure to perfom its duty as the legally confirmed representative of the crew, or show any human concern for the crew, is an ugly stain on all American maritime unions, US flag shipping, and the entire United States. Shame on MEBA.

Even more ugly and shameful was the failure of the “maritime community” in LA/LB to step up and provide basic humanitarian assistance to the crew trapped onboard the Transatlantic. Shame on them.

Liberal nanny state California,and Los Angles, have endless empathy and concern, and provide vast resources, for LGBTQ people, illegal immigrants, minorities of any kind, the homeless, etc., etc., but they would not do a damn thing for American mariners that had been abandoned by their company and their union. Shame on them.


MEBA did not “win the right” to represent. It won an election, and the NLRB assigned MEBA the legal duty to represent the officers (you have reminded me that MEBA only had a duty to represent the officers, not the entire crew). There is a very big difference between a legal right and a legal duty.

MEBA undertook a duty to represent. It does not matter whether there was a signed contract with Transatlantic yet, or whether the pledges or members, or the company was paying in yet. Some of the Transatlantic officers were supposedly long time MEBA members that had been paying in for years. MEBA undertook the duty to represent the moment it accepted the NLRB’s appointment of MEBA as the exclusive bargaining agent.

MEBA provided lawyers did eventually represent the crew in bankruptcy court proceedings, and the crew eventually got paid. At least I heard that. If so, MEBA deserves credit for that.

I have to say, I am very disappointed and disturbed by the bad attitude of highly paid long time Union mariners toward their newly organized union pledges and their fellow mariners. This is about principles and human decency that are a lot more important than a little short term petty cash.

Seeing as how the same kind of thing happens all over the world then no country is actually MLC compliant.

So, MLC is just another layer of unevenly applied and enforced feel good regulations that actually accomplishes nothing?