Washington Waves
Washington Waves

Coast Guard Issues Updates On Exam Centers

Washington, D.C.—Noting the need to restart the examination process for mariners to obtain or upgrade credentials, the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center (NMC) issued updates on efforts to reopen examination facilities, work with the maritime industry on alternative locations and extend credentials.

Merchant Mariner Credentials (MMC) (national endorsements only) and MMCs with STCW endorsements that expire between March 1 and September 30 were extended until March 31, 2021.

Medical Certificates (national endorsements only) and STCW Medical Certificates that expire between March 1 and September 30 were extended until December 31, 2020.

Mariners actively working on expired credentials that meet extension criteria must carry their expired credential with a copy of the NMC notice.

Additional details can be found at dco.uscg.mil/Portals/9/NMC/pdfs/announcements/2020/msib_08-20_ch3_.pdf on other administrative measures involving other expired items.

The Office of Merchant Mariner Credentialing also has published temporary guidance on MMC renewals that can be accessed by clicking “Policy & Regulations” on the NMC website at www.uscg.mil/NMC.

The NMC announced the Regional Examination Center (REC) Boston is scheduled to be reopened August 31 for limited services.

Previously, RECs in Houston, Texas; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Juneau, Alaska; were reopened along with Monitoring Units (MUs) in San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Ketchikan, Alaska.

NMC advised organizations with multiple pilots or apprentices to contact NMC1AIP@uscg.mil to coordinate potential examination activities away from an REC.

It added that industry stakeholders also should contact NMC1AIP@uscg.mil if they can coordinate testing of a minimum of five mariners at a suitable location that meets guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

 NMC urged members of the maritime industry to share suggestions on creating testing opportunities by emailing IASKNMC@uscg.mil or calling 1-888-427-5662.

Legislative Stalemate

A stalemate over a coronavirus-relief measure continued with no signs that key players have resumed negotiations.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives approved H.R. 8015 to provide $25 billion to the United States Postal Service by a vote of 257 to 150 with 26 Republicans supporting passage. The Republican-controlled Senate has no plans to take up such a single-issue bill, and the White House threatened a presidential veto.

Several major sticking points remain unresolved, perhaps the most important being the price tag of a future bill.

Roll call votes are not scheduled in either chamber until after Labor Day.

DHS Nomination

President Trump announced in a tweet that he formally will nominate Chad Wolf, currently the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to that Cabinet post permanently.

DHS includes the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection.

Technical questions have been raised recently about Wolf’s 2019 designation as acting secretary, but the agency dismissed those questions as legally flawed and partisan.

 With the Senate in recess until after Labor Day and its upcoming schedule, a Wolf nomination is expected to face a narrow window for confirmation leading up to the November election.

MTS Committee Online Meeting

The U.S. Maritime Transportation System National Advisory Committee (MTSNAC) is scheduled to meet online September 29 to discuss recommendations for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on the marine transportation system.

Open to the public, the webinar-based meeting is set to begin at 12:30 p.m. EDT, and a link accessible to most Internet browsers will be posted by September 22 on the MTSNAC website at www.maritime.dot.gov/outreach/maritime-transportation-system-mts/marine-transportation-system-national-advisory-committee.

Those requesting to speak must submit a written copy of their remarks to DOT by September 22, the same deadline for written materials to be reviewed during the meeting. For additional information, contact Amanda Rutherford at 202-366-1332.

Medical Advisory Committee

The Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee and its working groups are scheduled to meet September 22 via teleconference to discuss matters relating to medical certification determinations for issuance of licenses, certificates of registry and merchant mariners’ documents, medical standards and guidelines for the physical qualifications of operators of commercial vessels, medical examiner education and medical research.

Open to the public, the meeting is set to begin at 11 a.m. EDT with limited lines available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Written comments should be submitted by September 15 through the portal at www.regulations.gov. For additional information, including on how to join the teleconference, contact Michael Lalor at 202-372-1361.

MERPAC To Meet

The Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet September 15 via teleconference to discuss issues related to the training and fitness of merchant marine personnel.

Open to the public, the meeting is set to begin at 9 a.m. EDT with limited teleconference lines available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Written comments should be submitted by September 8 and can be submitted through the portal at www.regulations.gov. For additional information, including requests to join the teleconference, contact Megan Johns Henry at 202-372-1255.

NVDC Fax Issues

The Coast Guard issued a bulletin that incoming fax services to the National Vessel Documentation Center were not operational.

“Customers attempting to send faxes will note the system does not connect (constant ringing),” the bulletin stated. “Outgoing fax services (to customers) are still operational.”

Until service is restored, the bulletin advised customers to submit applications via pdf filing at NVDC.PDF.FILING@uscg.mil or via the U.S. Postal Service.

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