I was intending to post again about the Coast Guard’s Merchant Mariner Credentials and Licenses communique from Mr. Jeffrey Lantz, the Director of Commercial Regulations and Standards, but Capt. Bill Brucato saved me the trouble and nailed it already, so read his fine post, and many others, at the NY TUGMASTERS WEBLOG instead.
I’ll take this opportunity to again commend the Coast Guard for finally showing signs of life and acknowledging mariners’ existence, even if it is way after the fact. If this sounds to some of you like a lot of praise for very little, simply doing what they should be doing anyway, you’re right. But with the CG-mariner relationship as bad as it is you have to acknowledge even the smallest of baby steps in the hope that it will encourage them to move further in that direction. I’ll also point out that we shouldn’t have to resort to the functional equivalent of running down the hallways at school and pulling all of the fire alarms just to get the “adults” attention. Had the comments received been paid due attention and respect this could have gone very smoothly and without any animosity at all. Another opportunity lost…..
As it happens, several months ago, I contacted a Coast Guard official by phone and informed him that both the Master of Towing Vessels Association, and our close associates the National Mariners Association, were willing to publicly and enthusiastically support and endorse the new MMC plan if the traditional license option was retained. The leadership of the United Marine Division – Local 333 in New York Harbor, representing over 2,000 mariners, was also willing to publicly endorse it and I passed that info on as well. The result? I never heard a word back from them, and the final rule speaks for itself. We tried to offer the olive branch and, for whatever reason, it was declined. Given our deep disillusionment with the Coast Guard after their poor handling of last year’s 30-Day Wonder rulemaking and final rule, which also featured an unwillingness to listen to the valid and substantial concerns of mariners, we’d pretty much given up on the idea that they were an agency that could be worked with. But still, we thought, the MMC, not being a safety issue, might be something relatively simple that could be worked out satisfactorily. We were wrong.