NMC Begins Issuing New Medical Certificates


February 2014


Back to Issue

Seafarers who hold endorsements under the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) need to keep an eye on their mailbox.


On Jan. 2, the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center (NMC) began issuing and mailing new medical certificates to all mariners who hold STCW endorsements. While no action is required of mariners to obtain the medical certificate, those who do not receive them by March 31 are asked to contact the NMC at 1-888-IASKNMC (1-888-427-5662).


Those medical certificates are now issued to all mariners taking part in the STCW application process for the first time, as well. Once received, the medical certificate must be signed, folded and inserted in the plastic pocket in the back of each individual’s Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) book.


The medical certificates are part of the Coast Guard’s recently issued final rule on a set of new amendments to the STCW. Released in December, the final rule spanned more than 200 pages and was closely reviewed by officials with the SIU and the union-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education.


While the medical certificates bring mariners into compliance with STCW standards that are set to go into effect in 2017, they also serve a more immediate purpose. They ensure American crews are in compliance with the International Labor Organization’s Maritime Labor Convention, 2006 (MLC) – an international set of requirements that have already gone into effect.


In a letter to the maritime industry about the implementation of the new STCW amendments, Rear Adm. Joseph Servidio, U.S. Coast Guard assistant commandant for prevention policy, emphasized the importance of the medical certificates, especially for American mariners who sail to foreign ports.


“Since it will eventually be required under STCW (in 2017), and since it is required now under the MLC, the Coast Guard is pressing forward to issue medical certificates as quickly as possible within the timing of the rule,” Servidio said. “One very important additional reason why the United States is eager to issue medical certificates to our mariners traveling internationally is that U.S.-registered vessels that visit ports of nations that have adopted the MLC will be at risk of detention if they cannot demonstrate adequate compliance with the MLC.”


Though unlikely, a vessel could be detained in an MLC-compliant country if members of its crew do not have the medical certificates. Currently, there are more than 50 MLC-compliant countries, including Canada, France, Japan, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.


The NMC has updated its website with comprehensive information about the STCW-mandated medical certificates at the following web address:


http://www.uscg.mil/nmc/medical/ medical_cert.asp



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