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