March 2, 2022
How to Navigate the Captain’s License Medical Maze
The National Maritime Center (NMC) receives more than 50,000 applications annually from U.S. Merchant Mariners applying for medical certificates. According to the NMC, over 10 percent of those applications are missing information. This causes delays in the processing of applications and can be extremely frustrating for mariners who often need this certification in order to continue working.
The NMC previously published Common Errors Mariners Make When Submitting CG-719K (04/17), so be sure to check that out as well as our recent post on the Top Five Reasons for Delays in Receiving Mariner Credentials. Both of these resources will help ensure that you have filled out your credential application package correctly.
According to the NMC, a total of 7,882 awaiting information (AI) reasons were issued in 2021 for medical certificate applications alone. The NMC compiled a list of the top medical reasons that mariners did not receive their certificate, which we will share below.
At the Professional Captains Association (PCA), we know the license application process can be confusing and cumbersome. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us. We are here to help! This help is made possible through our membership. Join the PCA team today! Membership starts as low as $99/year.
Visual acuity does not meet regulations as listed in Merchant Mariner Medical Manual, (COMDTINST M16721.48), Chapter 5.
This chapter states that,
“In accordance with 46 CFR 10.305(a)(1), applicants for any national endorsement or qualified deck rating must have vision in at least one eye that is correctable to 20/40 or better. Uncorrected vision in the same eye must not be worse than 20/200. The horizontal field of vision should not be less than 100 degrees in each eye. Applicants for an STCW endorsement must have vision in both eyes that is correctable to 20/40 or better in each eye. Uncorrected vision in each eye must not be worse than 20/200.”
The manual states that there are some exceptions to the rule, which you can read about further by clicking on the link to the manual above.
Another reason for delays in the issuance of a certificate is when the additional eye tests needed after an abnormal vision exam are not provided.
Sometimes conditions listed in COMDTINST M16721.48, Chapters 8, need further documentation. This requires a current written report from your treating provider documenting the current status of the condition, history of the condition, frequency and severity of symptoms, as well as a treatment plan with all medications/side effects. This allows for the NMC is ensure your ability to perform all tasks as listed in Chapter 8.
Obviously, the objective of the certification is to ensure that you can carry out your duties as a mariner safely. If your care provider believes that with the right medication, you can carry out such duties without issue, then documentation of that is required.
If you have questions regarding the application for the medical certificate, feel free to contact the NMC Help Desk at 1-888-IASKNMC (427-5662) or reach out to us at the Professional Captains Association, either call us at (401) 735-0100 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.