MMCs Delayed Due To Broken Printers, Seasonal Surge In Applications
Printer problems are extending delays renewing merchant mariner credentials, with the National Maritime Center saying its current backlog is approximately 2,700 credential booklets.
Lt. Commander Eric Hatfield, public affairs officer for the National Maritime Center (NMC), said technical problems creating the delays are focused on printing new merchant mariner credential booklets, not medical certificates or endorsement labels.
“The National Maritime Center has three special purpose-built printers for producing merchant mariner booklets,” he said. “It is often difficult to diagnose printer technical problems, and because of ongoing issues only one of these printers is currently operational. We do have a maintenance contract in place, and we are working closely with technicians to have repairs completed as soon as possible.”
The NMC issued a bulletin April 7 warning of the delays “due to an increase in application volume and ongoing technical difficulties with our credential production equipment.”
On average, it is taking an additional two weeks to complete the printing and issuance of booklets, Hatfield said. The average net processing time to get a booklet, from the time the application is received to its printing, is currently 44 days. That does not include the period of time the NMC is waiting for any additional information from the mariner.
To help speed the process, the NMC has redirected personnel resources to assist its credential production team, Hatfield said. Additionally, the NMC is working closely with the printer manufacturer’s technicians to diagnose and resolve the printer problems.
“These technical problems are often difficult to resolve and may require some time to complete repairs,” Hatfield said.
Delays had been trending upward over the past few weeks, he said.
“Although we have had technicians on site multiple times over the past few weeks, we continued to see interruptions to credential production as printers require continued unscheduled maintenance,” Hatfield said. “This produced a slow build-up of inventory over time, and the inventory continued to grow, associated with a seasonal surge of spring application submissions. Currently, we are unable to accurately determine how long it may take to completely reduce the backlog and improve credential delivery time.”
The NMC has not experienced this significant of a delay with printing and delivery of merchant mariner booklets in the past, he said.
Hatfield urged mariners to apply for new credentials at least 90 days in advance and renewals up to eight months in advance.
If a mariner’s credential is about to expire, the credential is listed in the system as “approved to print,” and the mariner having the credential is critical to vessel operations or an applicant’s employment, he or she should contact the NMC Customer Service Center “and we will attempt to prioritize printing their MMC,” Hatfield said.
Mariners can expect to receive status emails at each stage of the application, including upon issuance of their credentials. An online tool is also available to check credential status at the NMC website at www.dco.uscg.mil/national_maritime_center/.
The NMC also offers mariners expedited mailing of their MMC or medical certificate, which includes the ability to track the package. Full instructions are available on the NMC website. NMC processes applications on a first in, first out basis.
“NMC is working hard to get additional printers back online to reduce the timeframe to get new MMCs printed,” Hatfield said.
Mariners may contact our the NMC Customer Service Center by calling 1-888-IASKNMC (427-5662) for assistance.