When renewing your merchant mariner credential, be sure to check the document beforehand to see if you have Basic Safety Training or Basic Training. On the international page of your MMC, (normally page 4), if you have the Basic Safety Training/Basic Training endorsement there will be Roman numerals. VI/1 means your MMC is endorsed with Basic Training. Some MMCs only contain the Roman numeral while others show VI/1 and the wording Basic Training. (The wording was added beginning in October 2012, initially saying Basic Safety Training and now Basic Training).
Entry level and steward department mariners are encouraged to be especially vigilant in making sure they hold the BT (VI-1) endorsement on their MMC.
If you do not have BST/ BT, you should apply for the endorsement by completing the Coast Guard application (free of charge). This endorsement is still renewable via sea service until the end of 2016.
Beginning in January 2017, in order to renew a merchant mariner credential with an STCW Basic Training endorsement (VI/1), an applicant must show proof of having completed a Coast Guard-approved BT class within the last five years.
This does not mean that all mariners must complete such a course by January 2017. For instance, anyone renewing their MMC this year (provided they’re already STCW-compliant) would have until their next renewal (as late as 2021) to complete an approved BT class.
It also doesn’t mean that the credential itself or the BT-specific component of the credential somehow becomes invalid in January 2017. In fact, until January 2017, STCW Basic Training itself is still renewable via sea service (at least one year of sea time in the last five years).
However, there is some urgency for mariners whose MMCs expire in 2017. When applying to renew those credentials, in order to meet the new BT requirements, individuals will have to show proof of having completed an approved class within the previous five years. Because BT has been renewable via sea service for many years, there may be a large number of mariners who haven’t taken the formal class in quite some time.
More information about STCW requirements is available from the SIU-affiliated Paul Hall Center (admissions office) and on the Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center website: http://www.uscg.mil/nmc/
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