I finally got some good news today. The mail came with my new, corrected, USCG license! I sent it in to the Coast Guard on September 29. So, it only (major sarcasm) took them a little less than 3 months to process a simple renewal.
My license expired December 16, so I figured I had plenty of time. Even with the end of the year rush due to new STCW ‘gap-closing’ requirements.
Every time I checked, for over 2 months, my license status was listed as PQEB. Waiting for an evaluator. Strange, cause they sent my medical certificate back within a week. I had no idea why it was taking so long until I got some help from the Coast Guard’s National Mariner Center booth at the Workboat Show in early December. They got things moving immediately and helped a lot.
I did actually apply for one extra endorsement. Maybe that was the reason for the holdup? I asked for the OIM (offshore installation manager). Reading the rules, I figured I was eligible. I had already taken stability for my Chief Mates license. I already had a few rig moves, under supervision and while in charge.
Since I am already a Master Mariner, that should have covered me for the OIM endorsement. The rules are different if you’re not already holding that license.
But, the USCG has decided that the much more intense stability course I took is not applicable for this endorsement. I need to take a much simpler course which is only specific to certain vessels (mostly MODU’s– mobile offshore drilling units). I learned all this after finally being assigned to an evaluator after the Workboat Show.
The rules also say that at least one of the rig moves must be within the last year.
So, since I was laid off by Ocean Rig in September of 2015, I have not worked since then, I’m shit out of luck until I can go back to work again. I can’t afford to take the necessary course until I find work again anyway, so the whole thing is moot.
The whole point of asking for the endorsement was in hopes it would help me find a job so I could go back to work again.
After a couple of emails back and forth about all this (the GC rep was very helpful and fast to respond), I decided to just drop the request for the endorsement and just renew everything I already had.
I got an email the next day that my MMD (merchant mariner document) was in the mail! The process moved along pretty quick once assigned an evaluator. I was feeling pretty good until I got my document a few days later and looked it over.
For some reason they restricted me to only vessels without ECDIS. I had taken that course as well for my Chief Mate license. I couldn’t have qualified to sit for the test without it. The CG rep told me that the class I took couldn’t have been approved back then.
Well, why would I have taken it then? The USCG gives us a listing of all the approved courses and all the approved schools where we can take them. Of course I checked the list and would never have gone anywhere to take any class that wasn’t on the list. It would have been a total waste of time and money since the certificate earned would not be valid!
After a few days of arguing and sending documents to the USCG, all the while freaking out about having to re-take another expensive week long course and not being allowed to work after December 31, 2016, the CG allowed that the course I took was actually OK.
So, today I finally got my MMD, one that has everything I need to show in order to go back to work. Now I just need a job!