Thursday, January 30, 2014


Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of extensive posts that we will publish covering one mariner's struggle with the U.S. Coast Guard's National Mariner's Center (NMC) and its "Medical Navic" which is accused by maritime labor as outlawing middle age in the American Merchant Marine.-Links updated 12/15/2015

 Brer Rabbit tries to fight the Tar-Baby by AB. Frost 1895 (Public Domain-Old -100)

This is the start of a short serialized group of posts on problems with the U.S. Coast Guard's National Mariner's CENTER (NMC) the organization that  American merchant mariners have to deal with to obtain, renew, or advance relative to their occupational credentials. Tangentially, this is also a story about the "Medical NAVIC"*, a Coast Guard issued policy document that is published and enforced by the Coast Guard without benefit of the regulatory process or Congressional mandate. It is the feeling of many in the American Merchant Marine that the effect of the "Medical NAVIC " was to outlaw middle age in American Merchant navigational services. Many feel this was the actual deliberate aim of the Coast Guard from the very beginning. Others feel it is the understandable result of the Coast Guard's abject, total, complete, and continuing failure since taking over superintendence of the American Merchant Marine in WWII to recognize what the U.S. Merchant Marine is and does. While the U.S. Merchant Marine is by law a "naval auxiliary", it is not a Federal uniformed service. There are no 20 year pensions in the Merchant Marine.While Navy and Coast Guard crewmen typically receive a pension and leave the uniformed sea services after careers of 20 to 30 years at ages between 38 and in a few cases their mid fifties,merchant mariners ratings and officers alike generally have to work well into their sixties in order to retire. Coast Guardsmen are members of a military service. Merchant mariners are in a job market, though subject to the call to provide naval services while holding active credentials. Either way the "Medical NAVIC" is ruining lives. So is the way the NMC is operated, and when a Merchant Mariner gets caught up in the administration of the "Medical Navic by the NMC the ensuing fight over a man's career can feel like an encounter with a tar baby. Below , and in a continuing series of posts we are going to share with you the first person observations of NMA Mariner No. 3001 as he struggles with the NMC for a medical waiver for his marine engineering credential. NMA Mariner 3001 is a 58 year old merchant mariner with over 20 years of service. As we write this we still don't know if the NMA has in effect ended his career, though he was certainly eligible for the medical waiver even under the "Medical NAVIC's guidelines.  Like every American remotely connected to the Merchant Marine we have good reason to fear for retaliation against NMA Mariner 3001 and ourselves as the U.S. Coast Guard is notorious about suppressing any negative opinions about any of their services. While we have often expressed admiration for the Coast Guard's military service, search and rescue services, and aids to navigation services to the nation we join the chorus of voices calling for the movement of the superintendence of the U.S. Merchant Marine out of the Coast Guard. Below is the first correspondence that the NMA received from NMA Mariner No.30001. More will follow in the coming days. If you'de like to read more horror stories of the ham handed handling of merchant seamen go to our MERCHANT MARINE INTEREST Section and read our serial "BLOOD ON BROWN WATER.

* NAVIC: Navigation and vessel inspection circular.

* TAR- BABY::The Tar-Baby is a fictional character in the second of the Uncle Remus stories published in 1881; it is a doll made of tar and turpentine used to entrap Br'er Rabbit. The more that Br'er Rabbit fights the Tar-Baby, the more entangled he becomes. In modern usage, "tar baby" refers to any "sticky situation" that is only aggravated by additional contact. (Wikipedia)


The First Letter of NMA Mariner 3001

Good day to you Captain

I have been having my own adventures with the NMC and in doing research on these people I came across this letter from your good organization. [
Editor's note the organization is the National Mariner's Association. (NMA)]
From: NMA Mariner 3001 to the NMA
"I myself have been confronted with all the core experiences found in your case stories. Lack of cooperation,  Refusal to communicate, obstructionism, etc and as I document in my letter I do believe that as of right now I am the target of NMC retaliation for complaining to them about their abuse of me in this process. I have put together a historical document of sorts covering all my experiences from the start of this process to this very day. I have sent a copy to my own union president and my union is aware that I have decided to become active in this fight against the abuses of the NMC. From my union president,"

Partial copy of correspondence from the mariner's union president, Names with held for the protection of all involved.

"The "sadistic process" that you just went through with the USCG is not uncommon. 

It will most certainly get worse before it gets better as the USCG is now implementing amendments to STCW - including new STCW two-year medical certificate requirements.

A couple of months ago I was appointed to MERPAC - Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee - by the Homeland Security Secretary. So at least we now have a voice in the policy making process aside from public comment, albeit a couple of years too late.

I will certainly try to raise your issues and complaints to the Advisory Committee level, with the USCG in the room.

The Mariner Continues:
So I have written this document but I have never been politically active before thus I really have no contacts to actually get this information out into the public eye where hopefully it may do some good. nor do I even know who the most effective people to contact with this would be. Thus it is my hope that if you agree with the content of my letter that you would forward it to your own political contacts and any Merchant Marine friendly groups that may be able to help us to right the wrongs done to all merchant mariners by the NMC process.

Although I am deep sea and your group seems to coastal and inland we are all still of the same family. Merchant Mariners. I am counting on the united we stand strategy to get this information out where it can do the most good. Because if we do not stand together then rest assured we will all fall together. 

Below is the full content document I have written. You are free to use this information in full or in part for your own purposes.
There is more to follow check back with us tommorrow-Editor
Link To Final Post in The Series:

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