By Christian Spain
National Vice President, Government Relations
I am often able to assist American Maritime Officers members and applicants who are having issues with the National Maritime Center when renewing or upgrading a Merchant Mariner Credential and/or renewing a Medical Certificate.
However, in the last quarter of 2021, I was contacted by many more members than would be usual who had renewal and/or upgrade problems that could be considered mostly self-inflicted. Many of these members have been Chief Engineers and Captains.
Please check the expiration dates on your Merchant Mariner Credential, Medical Certificate and TWIC each time you sign off a vessel so you can apply early for renewal of these critical documents.
I would like everyone to be aware of the three items have been the cause of almost all the recent issues members have faced with the NMC.
- Failure to fill out the 719-B correctly. The items most often missing are all in Section II of this form. When filling this out, even for renewal, you must check the boxes for Officer, Qualified Rating and STCW, as wells as copying all of your endorsements in the "Description of Endorsements Desired." Failure to do this will almost certainly result in a delay in proper issuance.
- Failure to apply for renewal at the eight-month mark for a Merchant Mariner Credential or the six-month mark for a Medical Certificate. When I contact the NMC to help a mariner, the first question asked is: When was the application made? The NMC expects mariners to apply months in advanced so any problems can be identified early. They are less likely to help mariners who have waited until the last minute.
- Failure to take the U.S. Coast Guard approved Basic Training and Advanced Firefighting Revalidation courses at STAR Center. These courses have been required since 2017 for renewal of an active mariners' Merchant Mariner Credential.
All officers who sail on STCW certificates must now complete U.S. Coast Guard approved Basic Training and Advanced Firefighting Revalidation courses, as well as 360 days of sea service, and include proof of course completion in their application package when submitting documents to the Coast Guard for MMC renewal, or for an upgrade including a renewal.
Since the implementation of the STCW 2010 requirements in January of 2017, completion of this 'revalidation training' has been required for all officers to renew their STCW certification with their MMC.
All Coast Guard Regional Exam Centers accept applications via email. The National Maritime Center will only accept Medical Certificate applications (CG-719K) electronically. Submitting documents through the Coast Guard's established electronic system is the best way to ensure that your interactions with any REC and the NMC can be tracked and documented. All electronic documents should be submitted as PDF files. Due to fraud issues, NMC will now only accept PDF files.
The Coast Guard's guidance on submitting MMC applications (CG-719B) to RECs only, and for submitting Medical Certificate applications (CG-719K) to an REC or the NMC, is available online.
Applications for MMC renewal should be submitted as you enter the eight-month window prior to expiration, even if you are on a ship. Due to relief delays and article extensions caused by COVID-19 and ROM requirements, waiting until you get home to submit your renewal application is not advisable.
Please ensure you plan ahead. The Basic Training and Advanced Firefighting Revalidation courses required for STCW renewal can be taken any time during the five years prior to your MMC renewal. The STAR Center course schedule for AMO members is available online.
If you have any questions, please send me an or call me at 202-658-8887.