With the pandemic-related extensions for mariners’ licenses ending October 31, a new maritime company has published a guide geared toward helping mariners simplify license renewal. MM-SEAS, an online credential assistance software company based in Arlington, Va., has published the guide “Renew Your USCG License In 10 Easy Steps” on its website at www.mmseas.com and is offering it free of charge.
Although previously available for customers, MM-SEAS founder and president Nate Gilman said with so many people needing to renew at the same time, the company decided to offer the guide for free to the public. The goal is to help prevent an application backlog as already an estimated 50 percent of merchant mariner credential applications are rejected due to incomplete information, causing weeks or sometimes even months of delays.
As the guide is designed to prevent mariners from making the most common mistakes leading to rejection, “Why not just make everyone’s life a little better?” Gilman said.
The company also offers cloud-based software, available for a monthly fee, that automates the tasks of obtaining, tracking and renewing U.S. Coast Guard credentials for those customers who would like help with the process. It works for both brown-water and blue-water mariners seeking first time issuance, renewals or upgrades to a variety of licenses.
MM-SEAS launched its services in March. Gilman, who has worked on research vessels around the world, said he developed the software with the help of friends after hearing several people talk about the delays they encountered after making small errors in applying for license renewals.
“It turns out everyone across the maritime spectrum has become frustrated with this,” he said.
Making the matter more complicated, many of those Gilman worked with had paperwork lost, stolen, destroyed or scattered in far-off locations while they were on a vessel and unable to retrieve it.
MM-SEAS, a play on MMCs for merchant mariner credentials, creates a safe place for mariners to store training certificates, sea service letters and other paperwork. It then provides a step-by-step process for obtaining licensing and plain-language answers to frequently asked questions, along with a central hub for access to all required forms.
“We built the software to look for all those common errors in the beginning,” Gilman said, eliminating the most common errors that cause delays in processing licenses.
Customers pay for the software when using it, but can let the coverage lapse between renewals, knowing their documentation will continue to remain safe, Gilman said.
“If you don’t need us to renew, turn it off, and we’ll still be here in five years,” he said.
Coming soon, MM-SEAS plans to launch an employer dashboard. It is currently in pilot testing with four companies.
“It’s one thing for mariners to be able to manage and deal with their own credentials, but then you can imagine being the port captain or the crewing manager who is in charge of 100 different mariners at once,” Gilman said. “You have to know when all their training expires, all their medical [testing] expires.”
Instead of having to individually enter all of that information for each employee, the employer dashboard will allow employees to upload their own information into the software and for both the employee and employer to track the information more easily.
Regardless of the application, Gilman said he hopes MM-SEAS helps mariners deal with the details of licensing so they can focus on what is more important.
He said, “That’s the reason we’ve created that guide, and that’s the reason we created MM-SEAS, so that we can all focus on the fun stuff, which is driving boats or working on engines.”
Caption for photo: Cloud-based software company MM-SEAS is offering a free online guide to help merchant mariners avoid errors in renewing their licenses. (Photo illustration courtesy of MM-SEAS)