New Policy Greatly Enhances M2M Transitioning

Us Coast Guard Cutter

By Dione Lee 2015-11-03 21:02:50

On October 16th, 2015 the US Coast Guard announced a new policy on “Crediting Recent Service of Uniformed Service Personnel” in CG-CVC Policy Letter 15-03 that greatly enhances the ability of both active duty and veterans of uniformed services to qualify for a civilian Merchant Marine Credential and endorsements.

The new policy, describes extending and crediting recent sea service from three (3) years to now seven (7) years for applicants who have qualifying service on uniformed service vessels. Because of this extension of sea service time, a lot more military members and veterans are eligible to transition from their Military career to a Merchant Marine career.


Title 46, Code of Federal Regulations (46 CFR), Section 11.201(c)(2) requires an applicant for a national officer endorsement to have at least three (3) months of required service on vessels of appropriate tonnage or horsepower within three (3) years immediately preceding the application.

On December 18, 2014, the “Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014”became public law to authorize funds for the United States Coast Guard in 2015. Section 305(a) of this Act provides opportunities for sea service veterans and adds a new subsection to 46 U.S.C. 7101. This new subsection authorizes the Coast Guard to issue national officer endorsements to applicants who have three (3) months of qualified service on vessels of the uniformed services within a 7-year period immediately preceding application, and who are otherwise fully qualified. These applicants will be deemed to have met the requirements of 46 CFR, Section 11.201(c)(2).

Under Section 305(c) of the Act, the Secretary is directed to maximize the extent to which the United States Armed Forces service, training, and qualifications are creditable.


Any active duty members, reservists, retirees, recently separated personnel, and civilian mariners with qualifying service on uniformed service vessels are eligible to be considered under these new provisions.

Qualifying vessel service for the purposes of this new policy letter can be earned on any vessels of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Public Health Service (PHS), regardless of status on the vessel, e.g., active duty military or civilian mariner.

Appropriate horsepower or tonnage is determined by the same rules as under individual regulations stating appropriate qualifications for an officer endorsement. The Marine Safety Manual, Volume III, Marine Industry Personnel has been changed to allow crediting service on vessels at least 100 GRT for unlimited tonnage national endorsements. In other words, service on vessels over 100 GRT is now creditable. Ref. 46 CFR 11.402(a).

The United States Coast Guard National Maritime Center (NMC) has made this policy retro-active.  Applicants who met the requirements of CG-CVC Policy Letter 15-03 when the “Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014” was enacted, but prior to issuance of the policy letter, will be considered for qualification under the new 3 months of service in the last 7 years recency requirement.

Summary and Appreciation

This change in policy can be directly linked to on-going joint efforts of MERPAC under task statement 30, and the Ship Operations Cooperative Program (SOCP) to make transitions easier for our military members and veterans to transition from their Military career to Merchant Marine careers.

A special thanks to Rating Force Master Chief Edward Lewis, USCG for keeping this initiative up front and center within the Coast Guard and the maritime organizations who have diligently supported military to mariner (M2M)  initiatives – your efforts have made a big difference in helping to ensure a pipeline of qualified and competent maritime professionals in our industry.

Victor Tufts, MITAGS-PMI contributed to this blog post – thanks, Vic!

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.