Washington Waves
Washington Waves

WWII Merchant Mariners Honored With Congressional Gold Medal

Washington, D.C.—President Donald Trump proclaimed May 22 as National Maritime Day, paying tribute to U.S. merchant mariners of World War II as well as today’s citizen mariners.

Noting the 75th anniversary of the end of the war, Trump said he was proud to have signed “long-overdue” legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the “valiant civilian merchant mariners who maintained critical supply lines to our overseas troops and allies.”

His proclamation cited the brutal attacks by German U-boats endured by the mariners and those who perished at sea or were held prisoner of war.

“This number includes 142 students of the United States Merchant Marine Academy—distinguishing it as the only one of the five service academies authorized to carry a battle standard,” the proclamation states.

Trump’s proclamation also paid tribute to the “expertise, patriotism, and dedication” of present-day citizen mariners.

“Our nation’s merchant mariners enable peaceful trade with countries around the world and provide vital sealift support to our Armed Forces,” it stated.

“Whether on the ocean or our inland waterways, merchant mariners support our economy by transporting billions of dollars of imported and exported goods.

“These men and women also sail bravely into combat zones to deliver supplies and weapons to our military men and women, playing a critical role in the success of their mission.”

PIC Requirements

The Coast Guard has amended requirements regulating personnel permitted to serve as a person in charge (PIC) of fuel oil transfers on inspected vessels by adding the option of using a letter of designation (LOD) in lieu of a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) with a Tankerman-PIC endorsement.

“This change is not limited to towing vessels, but one effect of this rule is that a PIC currently using the LOD option on an uninspected towing vessel may continue to do so once the vessel receives its Certificate of Inspection,” the Coast Guard stated in the May 27 Federal Register.

The rule took effect May 27. For additional information, contact Cathleen Mauro at 202-372-1449.

Downloaded Navigation Rules

The Coast Guard announced the availability of Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 01–16 Change 2 allowing U.S.-flagged vessels to use previously downloaded electronic copies of Inland Navigation Rules and Vessel Traffic Service Rules.

Issued May 21 along with a Deregulatory Savings Analysis, the NVIC also allows the vessels to access voyage planning navigation publications electronically, including through underway connectivity, to meet domestic carriage and International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea certification requirements.

For additional information, contact Lt. Cmdr. W. Christian Adams at 202-372-1565.

Appeals Processing

Processing of mariner appeals has been delayed due to COVID-19 health concerns, Mayte Medina, chief of the Office of Merchant Mariner Credentialing, announced.

According to the announcement, the director of the Commercial Regulations and Standards (CG-5PS), in conjunction with the Office of Merchant Mariner Credentialing (CG-MMC-2), continues to receive and process mariner appeals. They are being processed in the order that complete appeal submissions are received. Incomplete appeals will be held in abeyance until the mariner finishes supplying information for an appeal.

Mariners are encouraged to submit documents via email to MMCPolicy@uscg.mil in a readable format that does not include .gif, .zip or camera images. Mailed or faxed appeals could face further delays due to reduced manning.

For additional information, contact the Mariner Credentialing Program at 202-372-2357.

MMC Fee Waiver

The Office of Merchant Mariner Credentialing has published a policy letter providing guidance for a waiver of Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) application fees for eligible active duty members of the uniformed services.

Fee waivers can be obtained for evaluation of an application for an MMC, administration of an examination required for an endorsement and the issuance of an MMC. Waivers can be granted to members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force and Coast Guard as well as the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Public Health Service.

Titled “Guidance on Waiver of Merchant Mariner Credential Application Fees for Active Duty Members of the Uniformed Services,” CG-MMC Policy Letter 02-20 is available on the Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Credentialing policy website on the MMC Policy webpage and also can be accessed by selecting “Policy & Regulations” on the National Maritime Center’s website. For additional information, contact Mariner Credentialing Program Policy Division at 202-372-2357.

Hong Kong And China

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo certified to Congress that Hong Kong no longer warrants special trading status under U.S. laws, citing what he called China’s “disastrous decision” to impose a national security law that could place restrictions on the crucial financial center that has enjoyed key democratic freedoms for years.

“No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground,” Pompeo said in a statement.

One day earlier, President Trump hinted that his administration was preparing to do something “very powerfully” concerning China and its actions in Hong Kong.

“We’re doing something now,” Trump told reporters, declining to go further. “I think you will find it very interesting.”

Robert O’Brien, Trump’s national security adviser, said on CBS’ Face the Nation there would be “significant consequences” if the national security legislation was imposed, which could happen within days.

“That would be a tragedy for the people of Hong Kong, but it would also be very bad for China,” O’Brien said.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce responded by urging China to find ways to de-escalate the situation in Hong Kong and preserve the “one country, two systems” framework that has been successful for the territory, China and the international business community.

It also urged the Trump administration to continue the maintenance of a positive and constructive relationship between the U.S. and Hong Kong.