Maritime Commons attended an open house hosted by the Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center to provide updates on the credentialing process, future credentialing policies and their impacts on mariners and industry.

The National Maritime Center’s Commanding Officer, Capt. Jeffrey Novotny, provided opening remarks and updates on the NMC’s operations and initiatives.

For those of you who were unable to attend, Maritime Commons is providing a condensed version of Novotny’s remarks in a four-part series. These remarks are not ‘as delivered’ but provide a condensed version of the highlights for your informational purposes…

Delivered by Capt. Jeffrey Novotny, Coast Guard National Maritime Center commanding officer:

We are here to serve and assist the mariner in getting credentials. Our goal is to do this as efficient and effectively as possible.

The Coast Guard’s credentialing program is a three-legged stool:

The Office of Operating and Environmental Standards, Maritime Personnel Qualifications Division creates the regulations

The Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance, Mariner Credentialing Program Policy Division works with regulations to create policy

The National Maritime Center implements the regulation and policy

These program elements meet regularly because there’s nothing worse than a program that isn’t aligned.

Functional breakdown for the NMC

NMC-1: Operations and Oversight Division responsible for Regional Exam Center oversight, course development oversight auditing program.

NMC-2: Training and Assessment Division works with course providers for course approvals, designated examiners, qualified assessors. They manage about 230 course providers, approximately 2,500 hundred approved courses and about 4,000 instructors.

NMC-3: Program Support Division is responsible for NMC’s internal administration and personnel branch. They manage our workforce, facility security and finance.

NMC-4: Mariner Information Division manages mariner all records and information, our customer call center, congressional responses and our NMC website.

NMC-5: Mariner Evaluation Division evaluates records to ensure mariners meet all requirements for credential being applied for. They also train evaluators.

NMC-6: Medical Evaluation Division examines medical fitness for credential eligibility.

We also have 19 Regional Exam Centers; these locations are responsible for customer service, prescreening applications, administration of exams and course oversight audits. The Regional Exam Center in Guam will be reopening soon.

NMC Numbers

The NMC normally processes about 60,000 credentials and endorsements a year. In 2014, we did 81,000, which was a record year. When the NMC centralized around 2008, 2009 became a big year for initial certification with the five-year recertification window. Right now, we are a little ahead of where we usually are which is a good thing.  The NMC anticipates processing approximately 65,000 credentials this year.

Last year was first year we produced medical certificates and we processed about 125,000. On average, we do about 5,000 a month.  To date, NMC has issued nearly 48,000 medical certificates this calendar year.

NMC Updates

Printers

We recently invested in three commercial printers for credential production. In the past, we printed, bound and laminated all by hand. This is a huge improvement to provide higher quality credentials to mariners much faster than before.

Customer service chat

As of July 2015, you have the option to chat online with an NMC customer service representative through our NMC website. In July and August, we assisted almost 2,000 people via this new function and I think we will continue to see an increase in this customer service option. We are getting good reviews. A unique benefit of this option is the capability to print out your discussion transcript by providing your email address and requesting the transcript. This will provide the mariner a copy for their own records.

New credentialing application forms

We have the new 719 series forms approved. They will be on our website on October 1, 2015 and we’ve been training the RECs, the Customer Call Center and NMC evaluators. One of the major benefits of the new form is that the medical conditions checklist is a lot smaller; the previous form had 88 medical history questions and the new 719K only has 34. They have a better format and instructions and they are now PDF fillable which makes it easier to interpret on the NMC end. There is a lot more space for the medical provider to write and address both negative and non-negative items.

In the past, it wasn’t clear what the medical provider was supposed to do and there was not full clarity on the new NVIC. Now the form states that it is meant to be filled out by the mariner and required to be reviewed by the medical examiner.

The CG-719K is the new form for those applying for fully qualified ratings the CG-719 K/E forms are for entry-level certifications and will be titled, “Application for Merchant Mariner Medical Certificate.”

The new optional CG-719C can be used to report convictions and drug use.

In all, the new 719 series forms allow for the mariner to fill out more information to get through the process faster and should reduce applicant and physician confusion and awaiting Additional Information (AI) letters.

Medical certificates

Medical certificates are required for mariners on vessels to which STCW applies. Starting March 24, 2019, medical certificates will be required for all other mariners. Medical certificates will be issued at the next credential transaction (application for new or renewal).

We track every single application all the way through to issuance of the credential. I know how long it’s been in each state of application. We track the inventory levels and our application flow goes up and down. Right now, our inventory level of applications for medical certificates has increased. That said our processing time goal is to keep it under 20 days and we currently are at 12.2 days for net processing time. This time assumes that we do not need further information from the mariner.

Exam illustrations

Exam illustrations have also been improved and updated. At this point, we have updated nearly 350 exam illustrations.

Post dating of credentials

We now have the ability to post date merchant mariner credentials. With this new change, you can apply up to 8 months before your credential expiration date. So, for example, if it would have expired March 31, you could apply now and when you get your credential in the mail, it will be dated the day after your current credential expires.

Waivers/restrictions/limitations

When you have something that requires a waiver, it will now only state ‘waiver’ on your medical certificate. Your waiver specifics and medical information will be kept private. In addition to your medical certificate, you will now also receive a waiver compliance statement (separate letter) that outlines the terms and conditions of the waiver. Mariners no longer have to sign and return a waiver letter but you do have to sign the medical certificate acknowledging your waiver.

There is no longer a requirement for a 719B form when renewing your medical certificate, only a 719K is required. Currently, no fees apply for a medical certificate. For lost medical certificates, submit a written request through a Regional Exam Center.

Waivers are given in one, two and five year increments. Factors that determine duration of waiver vary; further information can be found in NVIC 01-14, regarding medical certificates.

Our current net processing time for an MMC is 14.72 days. Our goal is to have this number less than 30 days. This is from the time we receive the application to the time that an MMC departs the NMC on its way to you. If we have to go back to the mariner for additional information, we send a letter and stop our clock. We do not restart it until the day additional information arrives back at NMC. This is how we track our numbers.

For further information, concerns, questions or feedback:

Questions specific to individual applications: iasknmc@uscg or (888) iask-nmc

Questions specific to the 2013 final rule: stcwask@uscg.mil

Questions specific to or feedback on new NVICs or policy: mmcpolicy@uscg.mil

In addition to this post, be sure to read the other posts from the National Maritime Center open house and information sessions.

Part 1: Update from the National Maritime Center

Part 2: Update from Commercial Vessel Compliance, Mariner Credentialing Division

Part 3: Update from Operating and Environmental Standards, Maritime Personnel Qualification Division

Part 4: Update from the Office of Investigations and Casualty Analysis and Suspension and Revocation NCOE

Post provided by Coast Guard Maritime Commons: The Coast Guard Blog for Maritime Professionals

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