AGGRESSIVE action by the US Coast Guard has significantly reduced seafarer paperwork queues, according to testimony on Capitol Hill yesterday.
By the end of September seafarers had to wait 26 days to receive their credentials, instead of the previous 55 days.
A backlog of 6,800 applications was also eliminated at the end of July, testified Rear Admiral Kevin Cook, director of the Coast Guard’s Prevention Policy for Marine Safety, Security and Stewardship. More than 16,000 mariners have received their credentials since July.
Part of the backlog programme was the result of the Coast Guard’s closer scrutiny of seafarers’ health and medical history after the Cosco Busan allided with the Bay Bridge in San Francisco in November 2007.
The medical records of the Busan’s pilot at the time, John Cota, became the focus of the accident based on his prescription drug history.
Cook added that the Coast Guard is working to develop a mariner credential “trusted agent” programme to allow marine employers, training institutions and unions to submit complete credential application packages directly to the Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center.