Coast Guard offers extension on credentials, course approvals

Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas Santos, a boatswain’s mate with the Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick, operates the cutter’s small boat alongside the fishing vessel Tenisha Rose in Sitka Sound, Alaska, while Lt. j.g. Michaela Mckeown and Lt. j.g. Michael Civay conduct a commercial fishing vessel safety inspection March 19, 2019. The cutter crew conducted commercial fishing vessel safety exams in the Sitka Sound and Sitka Harbor in preparation for the 2019 Sac Roe Herring fishery. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ens. Lindsay Wheeler

Coast Guard officials have announced an extension of merchant marine credential endorsements, medical certificates and course approvals to meet challenges caused by the global novel coronavirus pandemic.

At the same time, the Coast Guard advised that due to these changes there may be a backlog in the processing of credentials and course approvals, especially near the end of the extension dates. Mariners and training providers are encouraged to fulfill the requirements and submit applications as early as possible in order to avoid a lapse in their credential or training approval. Under the Coast Guard’s current statutory authority, the expiration dates of merchant mariner credentials may be extended for no more than one year.

Merchant mariner credentials that expire between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 have now been extended until the earlier of Oct. 31, 2021 or one year after the initial expiration date of the credential.

Merchant mariner credentials with STCW endorsements that expire between March 1, 2020 and June 20, 2021 are extended to the earlier of Oct. 31, 2021 or one year after the initial expiration date of the credential.

STCW is an acronym for the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, as amended.

Medical certificates likewise are being extended for up to one year from their date of expiration. Medical certificates that expire between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 are extended to the earlier of Oct. 31, 2021 or one year after the initial expiration date.

Pilot annual physical exams require that pilots undergo an annual physical exam each year while holding a credential, but Coast Guard officials said they do not intend to enforce this requirement given the pandemic and its impacts on healthcare providers. This posture will apply until Oct. 31, 2021, respective of when the medical certificate expires, they said.

Additional guidance on these extensions and other administrative measures will be posted at uscg.mil/nmc.