As the AMO vice president for government relations, I am often able to assist members who are having issues with the National Maritime Center when renewing or upgrading a Merchant Mariner Credential, or adding certifications and endorsements. However, a situation arose two times during the month of April for which there is no work around or quick solution, and which needs to be addressed here so that all AMO members are aware of it and have as much time as possible to ensure they do not encounter the same problem.
All engineering and deck officers who require STCW certification on their Merchant Mariner Credential in order to sail are required to complete U.S. Coast Guard approved Basic Training and Advanced Firefighting Revalidation courses, as well as 360 days of sea service, and to 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 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.
For an officer holding an MMC with STCW certification whose credential has expired or will expire between the dates of March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, some relief from the STCW revalidation training requirements is being provided by the Coast Guard due to service limitations and restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. These relaxed provisions are detailed in Marine Safety Information Bulletin 08-20, Change 5, but please note they only apply for MMC/STCW expiration dates between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.
Beyond the provisions of MSIB 08-20, Change 5, there is no work around with the Coast Guard for completing this training.
Foreseeing the increase in demand for this training several years ago as the STCW 2010 amendments were being developed on the international level, STAR Center developed and received certification for the revalidation courses, and currently offers these courses at least twice per month. The anticipated requirement of this training played a significant role in the decision to build an approved fire field for training on the STAR Center campus.
MMC renewals are accepted up to eight months prior to the expiration of an MMC. For nearly a decade, AMO has been recommending members submit their renewal packages to the Coast Guard at least six months in advance so that any issues in the renewal process can be worked out prior to expiration. The Coast Guard process now prevents license creep for renewal applications submitted prior to the expiration of a current MMC, such that a renewed MMC will be dated following the expiration of the current MMC unless early issuance is requested, as may be the case when upgrading.
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.
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 the 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 at: www.amo-union.org/PDFs/dania.pdf.
If you have any questions, please send me an or call me at 202-658-8887.
National Vice President