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Down Does Not Mean Out: How to keep moving towards your MMC goals during a government shutdown

TSC Manager of Education, Capt. Sarah Herard, shares some important information in her latest Bluewater Safety Blog on navigating the current government shutdown while engaging with the NMC:

Attention Merchant Mariners and New Applicants:

The National Maritime Center has been closed since December 26th due to the current government shutdown. However, this should not stop you from submitting your Merchant Mariner Credential application paperwork to them by email. In fact, you should send in your completed applications ASAP.

The handy chat function on the National Maritime Center webpage is still live (thanks to the contractor staff that support the NMC), so you can still ask them basic questions - use this link to access the NMC Homepage - you will find the "Live Chat" button half-way down the left side of the web page.

Don't forget resources like the NMC live chat function.

Applications emailed to the Regional Exam Centers, as well as medical forms emailed to the Medical Review team, will be responded to in order of submission once the USCG staff are able to return to work. Because of this, you should get your paperwork in right now so that it's waiting in their in-box upon their return. Don't wait - that will only delay their response to your request because they will have a stack of paperwork waiting for them when the government resumes operations. Get your paperwork on top of their pile by sending it in now.

The National Maritime Center and Regional Exam Centers have been affected several times over the past few years by shutdowns. Each time, they have come back and managed their application load efficiently. Based on an in-person site visit I made to the NMC in June 2018, I can verify that they are motivated to keep their application processing time to a minimum. Rest assured, when they are permitted to return to work they will tackle the applications that are waiting in their inboxes.

For folks who already have an application in process, or those of you with expiring credentials, the NMC issued an updated letter on January 4th that provides extensions as follows:

Merchant Mariner Credentials (MMC) (National Endorsements only) that expire between December 22, 2018, and January 31, 2019, are extended as valid until March 31, 2019. Print the attached letter and carry it with your credential.
Additional Information (AI) letters, sent to mariners, that expire in December 2018 or January 2019 are extended to March 31, 2019.
Approval to Test (ATT) letters and mariner training course certificates that expire in the months of December 2018 or January 2019 are extended until March 31, 2019.
For mariners whose 90-day testing cycles were interrupted by Regional Exam Center (REC) closures (starting on December 24, 2018), the days the RECs were closed will not count against the 90-day period. REC appointment calendars will be re-opened immediately once appropriations are restored.

If you have any questions regarding how your application might be affected by the shutdown, feel free to reach out to me to discuss. I can be reached at

Background - the NMC issued a statement on December 26th stating:

Due to the partial government shutdown, the National Maritime Center (NMC) and all Regional Exam Centers (RECs) are closed until further notice. Customer walk-in service is suspended. Examinations and other REC appointments are cancelled, and REC appointment calendars are closed. Applications may continue to be e-mailed or mailed in and will be processed when the shutdown is over.

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