US govt shutdown affecting marine sector, USCG

The US Coast Guard’s merchant mariner licensing offices are currently closed as a result of the ongoing US government shutdown. Standard Club informed its Members in a web alert that there were significant implications for some deck and engineering officers.

The USCG National Maritime Centre has granted an extension for Merchant Mariner Credentials (national endorsements only) and Medical Certificates expiring in December 2018 and January 2019. Mariners can sail using documents covered by the extension until March 31st.

However, the extension does not apply to STCW endorsements, which are required on STCW-certified ships. The Masters, Mates & Pilots (MMP), which represents a substantial portion of licensed American mariners, is concerned that some of its members may not be able to ship out if their STCW expires during the shutdown.

“The government shutdown, and therefore the closure of the USCG [Regional Exam Centres], is hampering our members’ ability to work,” said MM&P Coast Agent Jeremy Hope.

Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of federal employees have been furloughed or have been compelled to continue working without pay since December 22nd. The 42,000 USCG service members remain on duty, and received all pay owed for the second half of December. However, their January 15 paycheck will not be paid unless funds are appropriated by Congress and approved by the president.

In an essay published in USNI Proceedings, former Commandant Adm. Thad Allen (USCG, ret’d) sharply criticized the nation’s political leadership for failing to pay its service members.

“I never believed it would be necessary to remind the leaders of all branches of government of their constitutional responsibilities,” Adm. Allen wrote. “While this political theatre ensues, there are junior Coast Guard petty officers, with families, who are already compensated at levels below the national poverty level, who will not be paid during this government shutdown. I’m glad my mother and father are not alive to see it.”