Validation of Merchant Mariners' Vital Information and Issuance of Coast Guard Merchant Mariner's Licenses and Certificates of Registry (MMLs), 35169-35173 [2011-14920]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 116 / Thursday, June 16, 2011 / Proposed Rules • Does not contain any unfunded mandate or significantly or uniquely affect small governments, as described in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104–4); • Does not have Federalism implications as specified in Executive Order 13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999); • Is not an economically significant regulatory action based on health or safety risks subject to Executive Order 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997); • Is not a significant regulatory action subject to Executive Order 13211 (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001); • Is not subject to requirements of Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) because application of those requirements would be inconsistent with the Clean Air Act; and • Does not provide EPA with the discretionary authority to address disproportionate human health or environmental effects with practical, appropriate, and legally permissible methods under Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994). In addition, this rule does not have tribal implications as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), because the SIP is not approved to apply in Indian country located in the State, and EPA notes that it will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law. List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52 Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Intergovernmental relations, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Volatile organic compounds. Authority: 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq. Dated: May 19, 2011. Jared Blumenfeld, Regional Administrator, Region IX. [FR Doc. 2011–15000 Filed 6–15–11; 8:45 am] emcdonald on DSK2BSOYB1PROD with PROPOSALS BILLING CODE 6560–50–P DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 46 CFR Part 10 [Docket No. USCG–2004–17455] RIN 1625–AA85 Validation of Merchant Mariners’ Vital Information and Issuance of Coast Guard Merchant Mariner’s Licenses and Certificates of Registry (MMLs) Coast Guard, DHS. Notice of intent with request for comments. AGENCY: ACTION: The Coast Guard is advising the public of its intent to finalize regulations previously published as an interim rule on January 13, 2006. The IR was published to amend the maritime personnel licensing rules to include new security requirements when mariners apply for original, renewal, and raise-of-grade licenses and certificates of registry, but was never published as a final rule. Because of the lapse in time since the interim rule publication, the Coast Guard is seeking comments from the public on one remaining section of the interim rule that has remained unfinalized. The Coast Guard intends to finalize this one section of the interim rule. DATES: Comments must be received on or before August 15, 2011. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG– 2004–17455 using any one of the following methods: (1) Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. (2) Fax: 202–493–2251. (3) Mail: Docket Management Facility (M–30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590– 0001. (4) Hand delivery: Same as mail address above, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone number is 202–366–9329. To avoid duplication, please use only one of these four methods. See the ‘‘Public Participation and Request for Comments’’ portion of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below for instructions on submitting comments. SUMMARY: If you have questions on this proposed rule, call or e-mail Mr. Gerald Miante, Maritime Personnel Qualifications Division, Coast Guard; telephone 202– FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:12 Jun 15, 2011 Jkt 223001 PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 35169 372–1407, e-mail Gerald.P.Miante@uscg.mil. If you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, call Renee V. Wright, Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone 202–366–9826. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Request for Comments If you submit a comment, please include the docket number for this rulemaking (USCG–2004–17455), indicate the specific section of this document to which each comment applies, and provide a reason for each suggestion or recommendation. You may submit your comments and material online (via http:// www.regulations.gov) or by fax, mail, or hand delivery, but please use only one of these means. If you submit a comment online via http:// www.regulations.gov, it will be considered received by the Coast Guard when you successfully transmit the comment. If you fax, hand deliver, or mail your comment, it will be considered as having been received by the Coast Guard when it is received at the Docket Management Facility. We recommend that you include your name and a mailing address, an e-mail address, or a phone number in the body of your document so that we can contact you if we have questions regarding your submission. To submit your comment online, go to http://www.regulations.gov, click on the ‘‘submit a comment’’ box, which will then become highlighted in blue. In the ‘‘Select Document Type’’ drop down menu select ‘‘Proposed Rule’’ and insert ‘‘USCG–2004–17455’’ in the ‘‘Enter Keyword or ID’’ box. Click ‘‘Search’’ then click on the balloon shape in the ‘‘Actions’’ column. If you submit your comments by mail or hand delivery, submit them in an unbound format, no larger than 81⁄2 by 11 inches, suitable for copying and electronic filing. If you submit comments by mail and would like to know that they reached the Facility, please enclose a stamped, selfaddressed postcard or envelope. We will consider all comments and material received during the comment period and may change this proposed rule based on your comments. Viewing Comments and Documents To view comments, as well as documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, click on the ‘‘read comments’’ box, which will then become highlighted in blue. In the ‘‘Enter Keyword or ID’’ box insert ‘‘USCG–2004–17455’’ and click ‘‘Search.’’ Click the ‘‘Open Docket E:\FR\FM\16JNP1.SGM 16JNP1 35170 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 116 / Thursday, June 16, 2011 / Proposed Rules Folder’’ in the ‘‘Actions’’ column. You may also visit the Docket Management Facility in Room W12–140 on the ground floor of the Department of Transportation West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. We have an agreement with the Department of Transportation to use the Docket Management Facility. Privacy Act Anyone can search the electronic form of comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review a Privacy Act notice regarding our public dockets in the January 17, 2008, issue of the Federal Register (73 FR 3316). Public Meeting We do not now plan to hold a public meeting. But you may submit a request for one on or before July 6, 2011 using one of the four methods specified under ADDRESSES. Please explain why you believe a public meeting would be beneficial. If we determine that one would aid this rulemaking, we will hold one at a time and place announced by a later notice in the Federal Register. For information on facilities or services for individuals with disabilities or to request special assistance at the public meeting, contact Mr. Gerald Miante, Maritime Personnel Qualifications Division, Coast Guard; at the telephone number or e-mail address indicated under the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this notice. Abbreviations emcdonald on DSK2BSOYB1PROD with PROPOSALS § Section symbol FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation FR Federal Register MMC Merchant Mariner Credential MMD Merchant Mariner’s Document NMC National Maritime Center REC Regional Examination Center TSA Transportation Security Administration TWIC Transportation Worker Identification Credential U.S.C. U.S. Code Basis and Purpose On January 13, 2006, the Coast Guard published in the Federal Register (71 FR 2154) an interim rule with request for comments. The interim rule described maritime personnel licensing rules to include new security requirements when mariners apply for original, renewal, and raise-of-grade licenses and certificates of registry. VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:12 Jun 15, 2011 Jkt 223001 However, subsequent rulemakings have addressed the majority of the interim rule provisions. As a result, the Coast Guard intends to finalize the single remaining section that has not been addressed in subsequent rulemakings. The most recent significant rulemaking documents for rulemakings addressing the interim rule provisions are as follows: 1 (1) Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) Implementation in the Maritime Sector; Hazardous Materials Endorsement for a Commercial Driver’s License (74 FR 13114); (2) Seafarer’s Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Code (STCW Code) (75 FR 13715); (3) Maritime Identification Credentials (74 FR 2865); (4) Consolidation of Merchant Mariner Qualification Credentials (74 FR 11196); (5) Training and Service Requirements for Merchant Marine Officers (73 FR 52789); (6) Large Passenger Vessel Crew Requirements (74 FR 47729); and (7) Crewmember Identification Documents (74 FR 19135). The one section of the January 13, 2006 interim rule that has remained unfinalized is 46 CFR 10.107(b): Definitions in subchapter B, specifically, the definition of ‘‘Dangerous drug’’ defined as ‘‘a narcotic drug, a controlled substance, or a controlled-substance analogue (as defined in section 102 of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse and Control Act of 1970 (21 U.S.C. 802)).’’ This definition was originally published in the January 13, 2006 interim rule as 46 CFR 10.103. The subsequent rulemaking, Consolidation of Merchant Mariner Credentials, redesignated Definitions in subchapter B, to 46 CFR 10.107(b) (74 FR 11216). Our intent is to finalize this one remaining section of the interim rule in its current designation, 46 CFR 10.107(b), and we are asking for comment on this section only. You may submit a comment to the docket using one of the methods specified under ADDRESSES. Discussion of Comments As a result of our request for comments in the interim rule published on January 13, 2006 in the Federal Register (71 FR 2154), the Coast Guard heard from 364 respondents representing mariners and the industry. The respondents submitted numerous comments addressing a wide range of issues related to the interim rule. A discussion of the comments follows. One hundred and eighty commenters noted that the interim rule requirements resulted in lost work time, long travel 1 To find all the rulemaking documents associated with the rulemakings listed here, you can view each rulemaking’s docket on http://www.regulations.gov. PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 times, and excessive expenses to visit one of only 17 Regional Exam Centers (RECs) for fingerprinting and identification checks. The commenters felt this was extremely burdensome and created a hardship for most mariners who work or reside a long distance from the nearest REC. In addition, the commenters felt long wait times at the RECs increased this burden. This proposal, the commenters believed, would not make the industry any safer and would cost excessive time and money, plus make more work for the Coast Guard. The commenters also felt that the cost of maintaining one’s credential may have been a deterrent for new entrants into the merchant marine. One hundred and fifty four commenters suggested that instead of requiring visits to one of only 17 RECs, the Coast Guard should have allowed mariners to visit local law enforcement, Department of Motor Vehicles/Motor Vehicle Administrations, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Coast Guard Marine Safety Units, and other field offices both temporary and permanent. Locations such as post offices can take secure fingerprints for purposes such as passports, so the commenters felt the Coast Guard should allow mariners more options. The commenters suggested that the Coast Guard could also send traveling teams of examiners to places where a large number of applicants might require fingerprints and identification checks, and that the Coast Guard could notify mariners, shipping companies, and unions (through the local media), as to when and where these teams would be at any given time. Fifteen commenters asked the Coast Guard to rescind the interim rule and work with industry to come up with a better system for fingerprint and identification checks. The commenters encouraged the Coast Guard to explore less burdensome and expensive ways to accomplish this goal while providing a way to ensure all licensed mariners are identified and properly screened. Thirteen commenters expressed fear that the RECs may not have the manpower to provide fingerprinting and ID verification service and that the system will be overwhelmed. The commenters suggested that a traveling Coast Guard team also visit maritime schools, where there was a large concentration of mariners wishing to renew or upgrade their credentials. These problems have been overcome by other Coast Guard rulemakings, including the Transportation Workers Identification Card (TWIC) rulemaking, which requires certain mariners who hold Coast Guard credentials to also E:\FR\FM\16JNP1.SGM 16JNP1 emcdonald on DSK2BSOYB1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 116 / Thursday, June 16, 2011 / Proposed Rules hold a TWIC, and the Consolidation of Merchant Mariner Qualification Credentials rulemaking, which removed the requirement to appear at an REC for those mariners who must enroll for a TWIC. Moreover, the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) has set up more than 150 enrollment centers around the country at which cards may be applied for and distributed. Those mariners who are not required to obtain a TWIC must still undergo another vetting process. Six commenters said the interim rule should not apply to operators of uninspected passenger vessels. Also, the commenter noted, some of those mariners work on inland lakes and rivers where there are no Maritime Transportation Security Act-regulated facilities and many work on small passenger vessels or family-owned offshore supply vessels where risk of a security incident is minimal. The Coast Guard publishes regulations that implement laws passed by Congress. Section 102 of the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, as codified in Title 46 U.S. Code (46 U.S.C.) section 70105(b)(2), required that every Coast Guard-credentialed mariner, and other specific mariners, obtain a TWIC. As noted above, TSA maintains more than 150 enrollment centers. However, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 modified the TWIC requirement for mariners by limiting it to only those mariners who need unescorted access to secure spaces on vessels required to have a security plan under 46 U.S.C. chapter 701. However, those mariners who are not required to obtain a TWIC must still undergo a vetting process. Ten commenters stated that a Coast Guard license was not an identity document, and since a license was not an identity document, and was not intended to be one, a license heist was not a likely terrorist consideration. The commenters are correct that a Coast Guard license is not an identity document. The fact that identity checks and fingerprinting are required to obtain a license does not in itself mean that the Coast Guard considers the license to be an identity document. At the time the interim rule was published, the Merchant Mariner Document (MMD) was the primary identity document for a mariner. Currently, the TWIC serves as the primary identity document. A license or a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) is a professional qualification document. The Coast Guard is concerned that any vessel master not required to hold an MMD could be in a position to cause serious damage to terminals, bridges, and vessels along inland routes. Therefore, VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:12 Jun 15, 2011 Jkt 223001 license-only holders must go through the fingerprinting and identificationcheck process. Five commenters suggested that the Coast Guard work with the TSA for fingerprinting and identification verification. The TWIC rulemaking has addressed this issue. Those mariners who are not required to obtain a TWIC must still undergo another vetting process. Fourteen commenters argued that fingerprints should only be necessary on the first issuance of an MMC because fingerprints do not change over time. Also, the commenters believed that renewal applicants already had their fingerprints on file, making it easy to detect if someone were to try to renew an existing license fraudulently. To apply for an MMC, a mariner must have a valid TWIC, which requires a full set of fingerprints at each 5-year renewal. Those mariners who are not required to obtain a TWIC must still undergo another vetting process, which also requires the submission of fingerprints in order to perform an updated background check. Fingerprints can change somewhat with age and especially after working with handabrasives, chemicals, etc. Additionally, fingerprints kept on file for long periods of time can also degrade, making them unsuitable for matching purposes. One commenter asked if a mariner renewing his or her license for continuity would be required to give fingerprints and undergo an ID check. No. Renewals for continuity credentials do not require fingerprints. Three commenters objected to using convictions in foreign courts against any mariner wishing to renew their credentials. The TSA has jurisdiction over this matter. For additional information on disqualifying crimes, please see the TWIC final rule revising 49 CFR 1572.103: Disqualifying Criminal Offenses (72 FR 3492). Those mariners who are not required to obtain a TWIC must still undergo another vetting process. One commenter stated that the licensing procedure should not be halted while the Coast Guard produces a final rule on the issue. An interim rule was necessary from an enforcement perspective until the TWIC process became operable. Licensing was not suspended during this period. One commenter said it is unnecessary for a credential holder to give fingerprints and submit to an ID check in order to renew a credential because that credential did not enable access to security facilities or information. PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 35171 Fingerprinting and ID checks are needed to perform the background check required by Coast Guard regulations. Seven commenters stated that the Coast Guard should have allowed for public meetings in several locations around the nation before publication of the interim rule. Given the urgency at the time, the Coast Guard decided to issue an interim rule to make the regulations effective as soon as possible. Due to subsequent rulemakings that provided an opportunity for public comment (see the ‘‘Basis and Purpose’’ section of the preamble), the Coast Guard, at this time, is only finalizing one remaining section of the interim rule that has remained unfinalized: § 10.107(b): Definitions in subchapter B, specifically, the definition of ‘‘Dangerous Drug’’. We have determined that a public meeting is not necessary, but those wishing to request one should follow the procedures outlined above under ‘‘Public meeting’’. Two commenters suggested that the renewal process for credentials take place at local Coast Guard stations. According to Coast Guard regulations, renewal applications are submitted to the National Maritime Center (NMC), through an REC, for evaluation and processing. The U.S. Coast Guard’s NMC has recently completed restructuring and centralizing the Mariner Licensing and Documentation (MLD) program in order to reduce credential processing time, improve customer service, and ensure the consistency and quality of U.S. credentials issued to more than 210,000 mariners. The major components of this project include: Centralizing many MLD functions that had historically been performed at 17 RECs at the NMC, which is now located in Martinsburg, WV; streamlining credential production processes at the NMC; aligning the organization of the RECs so that they report directly to the NMC; and relocating the MLD program policy functions to U.S. Coast Guard headquarters. One commenter noted that mariners are required to give fingerprints and undergo ID checks every 5 years (and have to travel longer distances to do so) while aliens are required to renew their Green Cards every 10 years. The Coast Guard’s 5-year renewal process is mandated by law (Title 46 U.S.C. 7106). One commenter said that the results of the fingerprinting and background checks required every 5 years should not change past determinations and E:\FR\FM\16JNP1.SGM 16JNP1 emcdonald on DSK2BSOYB1PROD with PROPOSALS 35172 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 116 / Thursday, June 16, 2011 / Proposed Rules findings on individuals under the guise of security. The 5-year renewal process is in place to ensure the mariner’s record is current. As discussed above, fingerprints can change somewhat with age and fingerprints kept on file for long periods of time can also degrade, making them unsuitable for matching purposes. Additionally, the Coast Guard must ensure background checks contain current information. Without this, there is a break in the chain of trust that could present a lapse of security. Two commenters stated that the requirement to give fingerprints at an REC each time a mariner wishes to renew or upgrade his or her credentials was arrogant and inconsiderate of the burden it places on the industry. The commenters believed it did little to enhance national security and asked why it was necessary to continually submit fingerprints at an REC while military personnel can submit fingerprints at their stations. Beginning April 15, 2009, TSA collects fingerprints and proof of identity and forwards that information to the NMC to perform a background check. The Coast Guard will also be able to obtain certain information from the record TSA created when the mariner enrolled for his or her TWIC. Therefore, mariners will not have to appear at an REC. Those mariners who are not required to obtain a TWIC must still undergo another vetting process. One commenter said it is unnecessary for mariners to submit identity verification for a duplicate credential if a credential is lost, stolen, or burned. The Coast Guard disagrees. When a duplicate credential is issued, the Coast Guard needs to re-verify the identity of the mariner. Without this, there is a break in the chain of trust that presents a lapse of security. One commenter said that arrest records need not be revealed, referenced, or discussed in any matter during the credentialing process when the outcome is in question. The commenter also suggested removing misdemeanor convictions altogether from being a criterion by which a mariner or applicant is judged for certification and licensure. Although arrest records are not clear evidence of guilt, and therefore denial of credentialing is based on a court determination, the arrest serves as part of the record and is needed for full determination as required by 46 CFR 10.211. The Coast Guard acknowledges the commenter’s concern. However, these issues have been resolved in the TWIC rulemaking. Those mariners who VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:12 Jun 15, 2011 Jkt 223001 are not required to obtain a TWIC must still undergo another vetting process. Mariners who feel they were unfairly denied a credential, can appeal under the process available from TSA (49 CFR 1515) and/or the Coast Guard (46 CFR 1.03). Those mariners who are not required to obtain a TWIC must still undergo another vetting process. One commenter asked if the Coast Guard thought the state of Montana was a legitimate terrorist target and asked what a terrorist attack in the state would accomplish. A terrorist attack could happen anywhere in the United States, and the Coast Guard will require vetting of every merchant mariner seeking a credential. Please note that credentials are a Federal document and allow the holder to operate anywhere inland in the U.S., coastwise, or in foreign waters subject only to the restrictions on the credentials’ face. One commenter expressed concern over the allowance of birth certificates and foreign passports as allowable identification. Another commenter took issue with the specific types of IDs accepted for verification. The Coast Guard understands the commenters’ concerns. However, this requirement is moot as identification required for MMLs is addressed by the TWIC final rule which requires all mariners who hold Coast Guard credentials to also hold a TWIC. Those mariners who are not required to obtain a TWIC must still undergo another vetting process. See 49 CFR 1572.17, see also 46 CFR 10.221. One commenter asked the Coast Guard if fingerprinting/ID checks were so critical, why the Coast Guard mails the credential to an address at which someone other than the intended recipient might be waiting to intercept it. The Coast Guard acknowledges the commenter’s concern. However, this concern has been addressed for mariners requiring a TWIC, which must be activated in person to complete the ‘‘chain of trust’’. Those mariners who are not required to obtain a TWIC must still undergo another vetting process. One commenter called into question centralizing Marine Licensing and Documentation with the NMC and moving it to Martinsburg, WV. By doing this, the commenter said, all records could be wiped out with one calamity. The commenter was afraid that reducing facilities to one location would have the opposite effect on the backlog. Also, the commenter asked what happens when the system is down or has no power. This comment is beyond the scope of this rulemaking. However, current PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 system performance has the average credential being processed in approximately 17 days of net processing time with greater than 80 percent being under 30 days. This is significantly less than the system performance while business was conducted at 17 disparate RECs. Performance at RECs varied significantly for many reasons. Among other benefits, centralization brings consistency across the program. Records were and are archived from the RECs to Federal Records Centers just as they are from the centralized NMC. Electronic records are backed up routinely. Records at any location are subject to loss from natural or man induced reasons. The NMC still continues to deal with cases of records lost due to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The centralized location of the NMC has less potential natural perils than most of the coastally located RECs. When the RECs were doing evaluations, they were still accessing the same electronic system that they and the centralized NMC access today. There are redundant systems and backups to mitigate any lost time due to equipment and power failure. One commenter noted a conflict in 46 CFR 10.209 regarding the requirements of identity documents. New regulations are in place regarding identity verification. Therefore, this comment is now moot. One commenter was in favor of the changes in the interim rule because new security requirements make sense in today’s world. The Coast Guard thanks the commenter and agrees. One commenter, who held a commercial pilot’s license, asked why a mariner seeking a master’s license must jump through so many hoops, including the $145 fee required for the license itself and the requirement to renew every 5 years. Under statutory mandate, a mariner’s license is valid for 5 years and may be renewed, with the required background checks, for additional 5-year periods. 46 U.S.C. 7106. The Coast Guard has statutory authority to set fees for mariner services or things of value. 46 U.S.C. 2110. The fee is determined by the actual time and motion costs to the Coast Guard for the required evaluation, exam (if any), and issuance of the license. One commenter disagreed with reducing the number of ‘‘service centers’’ to 17 RECs and believed the user fees added a substantial financial burden to mariners. The interim rule did not reduce the number of ‘‘service centers’’ or RECs. The current number of 17 RECs has E:\FR\FM\16JNP1.SGM 16JNP1 emcdonald on DSK2BSOYB1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 116 / Thursday, June 16, 2011 / Proposed Rules been in place since 1982. As stated in the response to the previous commenter, the Coast Guard has statutory authority to set fees for mariner services or things of value. 46 U.S.C. 2110. One commenter noted that more than half of the personnel at Washington Island Ferry Line Inc., were not required to be licensed. Mariners who require no license or MMC were not expected to follow the procedures in the interim rule. However, mariners are encouraged to check with local authorities to see if a TWIC is necessary in a given port area. One commenter expressed concern about raising the standards defining ‘‘conviction’’, which could disqualify some mariners from consideration when trying to obtain a credential. The commenter noted that there were situations where persons who have made mistakes, paid their debt to society and were living as responsible citizens, and they should be given a better opportunity to obtain a credential. The Coast Guard agrees with this commenter, that persons who have been convicted in the past may in fact qualify for work as a mariner. Not all crimes serve as permanent disqualifiers, and there are procedures in place to allow for waivers or review of certain convictions when the individual can show that they are not a security or safety risk. Please see TSA appeal and waiver procedures for security threat assessments for individuals at 49 CFR Part 1515, see also Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Credential, criminal record review at 46 CFR 10.211. Two commenters said credential renewals and upgrades needed to only establish that the candidate was the same person who received the original license and suggest the Coast Guard authorize employers to certify the identification of candidates. The commenters noted that employers were trusted to certify sea service and presence in a drug-testing pool. Identification verification meets only half of the criteria for the process of obtaining a credential. Candidates must also give fingerprints so the authorities can conduct background checks. Also, TSA requires personal appearance at an enrollment center for fingerprinting and ID checks as part of the TWIC process. Please see the TWIC rulemaking for clarification. One commenter wanted the Coast Guard to create an MMC that a mariner can carry in his or her pocket. The NMC began issuing the MMC in early 2009 as a mariner’s professional qualifications document. It incorporates the legacy license, MMD and/or Certificate of Registry as well as a VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:12 Jun 15, 2011 Jkt 223001 mariner’s STCW endorsements. The TWIC now serves as the mariner’s identity document. Please see the TWIC rulemaking for clarification. One commenter took issue with the Coast Guard issuing an interim rule without seeking comment from industry. Due to the immediate needs for heightened security measures to be implemented, the publication of an interim rule with a request for comments allowed the Coast Guard to immediately implement regulations needed to protect national security. However, the interim rule did allow for the public to comment on the rule before it became final. Those comments are summarized above. Since publication of the interim rule, the Coast Guard, TSA, and the Department of Homeland Security have considered and addressed the public’s concerns in the regulations listed above in the ‘‘Background’’ section of this document, as these same concerns were raised upon promulgation of those other rules. 35173 DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 46 CFR Part 12 [Docket No. USCG–2003–14500] RIN 1625–AA81 Validation of Merchant Mariners’ Vital Information and Issuance of Coast Guard Merchant Mariner’s Documents (MMDs) Coast Guard, DHS. Notice of intent with request for comments. AGENCY: ACTION: The Coast Guard is advising the public of its intent to finalize regulations previously published as an interim rule on January 6, 2004. The interim rule (IR) was published to enhance the application procedures for the Merchant Mariner Licensing and Documentation program, which were necessary to improve maritime safety and promote the national security interest of the United States, but was Intent To Finalize; Request for never published as a final rule. Because Comments of the lapse in time since the interim rule publication, the Coast Guard is The Coast Guard invites further seeking comments from the public on comments related to this Notice of one remaining section of the interim Intent to finalize the one section of the rule that has remained unfinalized. The January 13, 2006 interim rule that has Coast Guard intends to finalize this one remained unfinalized, 46 CFR 10.107(b): section of the interim rule. Definitions in subchapter B, specifically, DATES: Comments must be received on the definition of ‘‘Dangerous drug’’. or before August 15, 2011. Written comments and responses ADDRESSES: You may submit comments related to finalizing this definition will identified by docket number USCG– be added to the docket number for this 2003–14500 using any one of the rulemaking (USCG–2004–17455). Upon following methods: close of the comment period, the Coast (1) Federal eRulemaking Portal: Guard will consider all comments http://www.regulations.gov. received. We anticipate that we will be (2) Fax: 202–493–2251. able to finalize 46 CFR 10.107(b) soon (3) Mail: Docket Management Facility thereafter. (M–30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Dated: June 9, 2011. Floor, Room W12–140, 1200 New Jersey F.J. Sturm, Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590– Acting Director of Commercial Regulations 0001. and Standards. (4) Hand delivery: Same as mail [FR Doc. 2011–14920 Filed 6–15–11; 8:45 am] address above, between 9 a.m. and BILLING CODE 9110–04–P 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone number is 202–366–9329. To avoid duplication, please use only one of these four methods. See the ‘‘Public Participation and Request for Comments’’ portion of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below for instructions on submitting comments. PO 00000 SUMMARY: If you have questions on this proposed rule, call or e-mail Mr. Gerald Miante, Maritime Personnel Qualifications FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Frm 00037 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\16JNP1.SGM 16JNP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 116 (Thursday, June 16, 2011)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 35169-35173]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-14920]


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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

Coast Guard

46 CFR Part 10

[Docket No. USCG-2004-17455]
RIN 1625-AA85


Validation of Merchant Mariners' Vital Information and Issuance 
of Coast Guard Merchant Mariner's Licenses and Certificates of Registry 
(MMLs)

AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION: Notice of intent with request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Coast Guard is advising the public of its intent to 
finalize regulations previously published as an interim rule on January 
13, 2006. The IR was published to amend the maritime personnel 
licensing rules to include new security requirements when mariners 
apply for original, renewal, and raise-of-grade licenses and 
certificates of registry, but was never published as a final rule. 
Because of the lapse in time since the interim rule publication, the 
Coast Guard is seeking comments from the public on one remaining 
section of the interim rule that has remained unfinalized. The Coast 
Guard intends to finalize this one section of the interim rule.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before August 15, 2011.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-
2004-17455 using any one of the following methods:
    (1) Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.
    (2) Fax: 202-493-2251.
    (3) Mail: Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of 
Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
    (4) Hand delivery: Same as mail address above, between 9 a.m. and 5 
p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone 
number is 202-366-9329. To avoid duplication, please use only one of 
these four methods. See the ``Public Participation and Request for 
Comments'' portion of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below for 
instructions on submitting comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions on this proposed 
rule, call or e-mail Mr. Gerald Miante, Maritime Personnel 
Qualifications Division, Coast Guard; telephone 202-372-1407, e-mail 
Gerald.P.Miante@uscg.mil. If you have questions on viewing or 
submitting material to the docket, call Renee V. Wright, Program 
Manager, Docket Operations, telephone 202-366-9826.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Request for Comments

    If you submit a comment, please include the docket number for this 
rulemaking (USCG-2004-17455), indicate the specific section of this 
document to which each comment applies, and provide a reason for each 
suggestion or recommendation. You may submit your comments and material 
online (via http://www.regulations.gov) or by fax, mail, or hand 
delivery, but please use only one of these means. If you submit a 
comment online via http://www.regulations.gov, it will be considered 
received by the Coast Guard when you successfully transmit the comment. 
If you fax, hand deliver, or mail your comment, it will be considered 
as having been received by the Coast Guard when it is received at the 
Docket Management Facility. We recommend that you include your name and 
a mailing address, an e-mail address, or a phone number in the body of 
your document so that we can contact you if we have questions regarding 
your submission.
    To submit your comment online, go to http://www.regulations.gov, 
click on the ``submit a comment'' box, which will then become 
highlighted in blue. In the ``Select Document Type'' drop down menu 
select ``Proposed Rule'' and insert ``USCG-2004-17455'' in the ``Enter 
Keyword or ID'' box. Click ``Search'' then click on the balloon shape 
in the ``Actions'' column. If you submit your comments by mail or hand 
delivery, submit them in an unbound format, no larger than 8\1/2\ by 11 
inches, suitable for copying and electronic filing. If you submit 
comments by mail and would like to know that they reached the Facility, 
please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard or envelope.
    We will consider all comments and material received during the 
comment period and may change this proposed rule based on your 
comments.

Viewing Comments and Documents

    To view comments, as well as documents mentioned in this preamble 
as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, 
click on the ``read comments'' box, which will then become highlighted 
in blue. In the ``Enter Keyword or ID'' box insert ``USCG-2004-17455'' 
and click ``Search.'' Click the ``Open Docket

[[Page 35170]]

Folder'' in the ``Actions'' column. You may also visit the Docket 
Management Facility in Room W12-140 on the ground floor of the 
Department of Transportation West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, 
SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, except Federal holidays. We have an agreement with the 
Department of Transportation to use the Docket Management Facility.

Privacy Act

    Anyone can search the electronic form of comments received into any 
of our dockets by the name of the individual submitting the comment (or 
signing the comment, if submitted on behalf of an association, 
business, labor union, etc.). You may review a Privacy Act notice 
regarding our public dockets in the January 17, 2008, issue of the 
Federal Register (73 FR 3316).

Public Meeting

    We do not now plan to hold a public meeting. But you may submit a 
request for one on or before July 6, 2011 using one of the four methods 
specified under ADDRESSES. Please explain why you believe a public 
meeting would be beneficial. If we determine that one would aid this 
rulemaking, we will hold one at a time and place announced by a later 
notice in the Federal Register.
    For information on facilities or services for individuals with 
disabilities or to request special assistance at the public meeting, 
contact Mr. Gerald Miante, Maritime Personnel Qualifications Division, 
Coast Guard; at the telephone number or e-mail address indicated under 
the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this notice.

Abbreviations

Sec.  Section symbol
FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation
FR Federal Register
MMC Merchant Mariner Credential
MMD Merchant Mariner's Document
NMC National Maritime Center
REC Regional Examination Center
TSA Transportation Security Administration
TWIC Transportation Worker Identification Credential
U.S.C. U.S. Code

Basis and Purpose

    On January 13, 2006, the Coast Guard published in the Federal 
Register (71 FR 2154) an interim rule with request for comments. The 
interim rule described maritime personnel licensing rules to include 
new security requirements when mariners apply for original, renewal, 
and raise-of-grade licenses and certificates of registry. However, 
subsequent rulemakings have addressed the majority of the interim rule 
provisions. As a result, the Coast Guard intends to finalize the single 
remaining section that has not been addressed in subsequent 
rulemakings.
    The most recent significant rulemaking documents for rulemakings 
addressing the interim rule provisions are as follows: \1\ (1) 
Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) Implementation 
in the Maritime Sector; Hazardous Materials Endorsement for a 
Commercial Driver's License (74 FR 13114); (2) Seafarer's Training, 
Certification and Watchkeeping Code (STCW Code) (75 FR 13715); (3) 
Maritime Identification Credentials (74 FR 2865); (4) Consolidation of 
Merchant Mariner Qualification Credentials (74 FR 11196); (5) Training 
and Service Requirements for Merchant Marine Officers (73 FR 52789); 
(6) Large Passenger Vessel Crew Requirements (74 FR 47729); and (7) 
Crewmember Identification Documents (74 FR 19135).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ To find all the rulemaking documents associated with the 
rulemakings listed here, you can view each rulemaking's docket on 
http://www.regulations.gov.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The one section of the January 13, 2006 interim rule that has 
remained unfinalized is 46 CFR 10.107(b): Definitions in subchapter B, 
specifically, the definition of ``Dangerous drug'' defined as ``a 
narcotic drug, a controlled substance, or a controlled-substance 
analogue (as defined in section 102 of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse and 
Control Act of 1970 (21 U.S.C. 802)).'' This definition was originally 
published in the January 13, 2006 interim rule as 46 CFR 10.103. The 
subsequent rulemaking, Consolidation of Merchant Mariner Credentials, 
redesignated Definitions in subchapter B, to 46 CFR 10.107(b) (74 FR 
11216). Our intent is to finalize this one remaining section of the 
interim rule in its current designation, 46 CFR 10.107(b), and we are 
asking for comment on this section only. You may submit a comment to 
the docket using one of the methods specified under ADDRESSES.

Discussion of Comments

    As a result of our request for comments in the interim rule 
published on January 13, 2006 in the Federal Register (71 FR 2154), the 
Coast Guard heard from 364 respondents representing mariners and the 
industry. The respondents submitted numerous comments addressing a wide 
range of issues related to the interim rule. A discussion of the 
comments follows.
    One hundred and eighty commenters noted that the interim rule 
requirements resulted in lost work time, long travel times, and 
excessive expenses to visit one of only 17 Regional Exam Centers (RECs) 
for fingerprinting and identification checks. The commenters felt this 
was extremely burdensome and created a hardship for most mariners who 
work or reside a long distance from the nearest REC. In addition, the 
commenters felt long wait times at the RECs increased this burden. This 
proposal, the commenters believed, would not make the industry any 
safer and would cost excessive time and money, plus make more work for 
the Coast Guard. The commenters also felt that the cost of maintaining 
one's credential may have been a deterrent for new entrants into the 
merchant marine.
    One hundred and fifty four commenters suggested that instead of 
requiring visits to one of only 17 RECs, the Coast Guard should have 
allowed mariners to visit local law enforcement, Department of Motor 
Vehicles/Motor Vehicle Administrations, Federal Bureau of Investigation 
(FBI), Coast Guard Marine Safety Units, and other field offices both 
temporary and permanent. Locations such as post offices can take secure 
fingerprints for purposes such as passports, so the commenters felt the 
Coast Guard should allow mariners more options. The commenters 
suggested that the Coast Guard could also send traveling teams of 
examiners to places where a large number of applicants might require 
fingerprints and identification checks, and that the Coast Guard could 
notify mariners, shipping companies, and unions (through the local 
media), as to when and where these teams would be at any given time.
    Fifteen commenters asked the Coast Guard to rescind the interim 
rule and work with industry to come up with a better system for 
fingerprint and identification checks. The commenters encouraged the 
Coast Guard to explore less burdensome and expensive ways to accomplish 
this goal while providing a way to ensure all licensed mariners are 
identified and properly screened.
    Thirteen commenters expressed fear that the RECs may not have the 
manpower to provide fingerprinting and ID verification service and that 
the system will be overwhelmed. The commenters suggested that a 
traveling Coast Guard team also visit maritime schools, where there was 
a large concentration of mariners wishing to renew or upgrade their 
credentials.
    These problems have been overcome by other Coast Guard rulemakings, 
including the Transportation Workers Identification Card (TWIC) 
rulemaking, which requires certain mariners who hold Coast Guard 
credentials to also

[[Page 35171]]

hold a TWIC, and the Consolidation of Merchant Mariner Qualification 
Credentials rulemaking, which removed the requirement to appear at an 
REC for those mariners who must enroll for a TWIC. Moreover, the 
Transportation Security Agency (TSA) has set up more than 150 
enrollment centers around the country at which cards may be applied for 
and distributed. Those mariners who are not required to obtain a TWIC 
must still undergo another vetting process.
    Six commenters said the interim rule should not apply to operators 
of uninspected passenger vessels. Also, the commenter noted, some of 
those mariners work on inland lakes and rivers where there are no 
Maritime Transportation Security Act-regulated facilities and many work 
on small passenger vessels or family-owned offshore supply vessels 
where risk of a security incident is minimal.
    The Coast Guard publishes regulations that implement laws passed by 
Congress. Section 102 of the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 
2002, as codified in Title 46 U.S. Code (46 U.S.C.) section 
70105(b)(2), required that every Coast Guard-credentialed mariner, and 
other specific mariners, obtain a TWIC. As noted above, TSA maintains 
more than 150 enrollment centers. However, the Coast Guard 
Authorization Act of 2010 modified the TWIC requirement for mariners by 
limiting it to only those mariners who need unescorted access to secure 
spaces on vessels required to have a security plan under 46 U.S.C. 
chapter 701. However, those mariners who are not required to obtain a 
TWIC must still undergo a vetting process.
    Ten commenters stated that a Coast Guard license was not an 
identity document, and since a license was not an identity document, 
and was not intended to be one, a license heist was not a likely 
terrorist consideration.
    The commenters are correct that a Coast Guard license is not an 
identity document. The fact that identity checks and fingerprinting are 
required to obtain a license does not in itself mean that the Coast 
Guard considers the license to be an identity document. At the time the 
interim rule was published, the Merchant Mariner Document (MMD) was the 
primary identity document for a mariner. Currently, the TWIC serves as 
the primary identity document. A license or a Merchant Mariner 
Credential (MMC) is a professional qualification document. The Coast 
Guard is concerned that any vessel master not required to hold an MMD 
could be in a position to cause serious damage to terminals, bridges, 
and vessels along inland routes. Therefore, license-only holders must 
go through the fingerprinting and identification-check process.
    Five commenters suggested that the Coast Guard work with the TSA 
for fingerprinting and identification verification.
    The TWIC rulemaking has addressed this issue. Those mariners who 
are not required to obtain a TWIC must still undergo another vetting 
process.
    Fourteen commenters argued that fingerprints should only be 
necessary on the first issuance of an MMC because fingerprints do not 
change over time. Also, the commenters believed that renewal applicants 
already had their fingerprints on file, making it easy to detect if 
someone were to try to renew an existing license fraudulently.
    To apply for an MMC, a mariner must have a valid TWIC, which 
requires a full set of fingerprints at each 5-year renewal. Those 
mariners who are not required to obtain a TWIC must still undergo 
another vetting process, which also requires the submission of 
fingerprints in order to perform an updated background check. 
Fingerprints can change somewhat with age and especially after working 
with hand-abrasives, chemicals, etc. Additionally, fingerprints kept on 
file for long periods of time can also degrade, making them unsuitable 
for matching purposes.
    One commenter asked if a mariner renewing his or her license for 
continuity would be required to give fingerprints and undergo an ID 
check.
    No. Renewals for continuity credentials do not require 
fingerprints.
    Three commenters objected to using convictions in foreign courts 
against any mariner wishing to renew their credentials.
    The TSA has jurisdiction over this matter. For additional 
information on disqualifying crimes, please see the TWIC final rule 
revising 49 CFR 1572.103: Disqualifying Criminal Offenses (72 FR 3492). 
Those mariners who are not required to obtain a TWIC must still undergo 
another vetting process.
    One commenter stated that the licensing procedure should not be 
halted while the Coast Guard produces a final rule on the issue.
    An interim rule was necessary from an enforcement perspective until 
the TWIC process became operable. Licensing was not suspended during 
this period.
    One commenter said it is unnecessary for a credential holder to 
give fingerprints and submit to an ID check in order to renew a 
credential because that credential did not enable access to security 
facilities or information.
    Fingerprinting and ID checks are needed to perform the background 
check required by Coast Guard regulations.
    Seven commenters stated that the Coast Guard should have allowed 
for public meetings in several locations around the nation before 
publication of the interim rule.
    Given the urgency at the time, the Coast Guard decided to issue an 
interim rule to make the regulations effective as soon as possible. Due 
to subsequent rulemakings that provided an opportunity for public 
comment (see the ``Basis and Purpose'' section of the preamble), the 
Coast Guard, at this time, is only finalizing one remaining section of 
the interim rule that has remained unfinalized: Sec.  10.107(b): 
Definitions in subchapter B, specifically, the definition of 
``Dangerous Drug''. We have determined that a public meeting is not 
necessary, but those wishing to request one should follow the 
procedures outlined above under ``Public meeting''.
    Two commenters suggested that the renewal process for credentials 
take place at local Coast Guard stations.
    According to Coast Guard regulations, renewal applications are 
submitted to the National Maritime Center (NMC), through an REC, for 
evaluation and processing. The U.S. Coast Guard's NMC has recently 
completed restructuring and centralizing the Mariner Licensing and 
Documentation (MLD) program in order to reduce credential processing 
time, improve customer service, and ensure the consistency and quality 
of U.S. credentials issued to more than 210,000 mariners. The major 
components of this project include: Centralizing many MLD functions 
that had historically been performed at 17 RECs at the NMC, which is 
now located in Martinsburg, WV; streamlining credential production 
processes at the NMC; aligning the organization of the RECs so that 
they report directly to the NMC; and relocating the MLD program policy 
functions to U.S. Coast Guard headquarters.
    One commenter noted that mariners are required to give fingerprints 
and undergo ID checks every 5 years (and have to travel longer 
distances to do so) while aliens are required to renew their Green 
Cards every 10 years.
    The Coast Guard's 5-year renewal process is mandated by law (Title 
46 U.S.C. 7106).
    One commenter said that the results of the fingerprinting and 
background checks required every 5 years should not change past 
determinations and

[[Page 35172]]

findings on individuals under the guise of security.
    The 5-year renewal process is in place to ensure the mariner's 
record is current. As discussed above, fingerprints can change somewhat 
with age and fingerprints kept on file for long periods of time can 
also degrade, making them unsuitable for matching purposes. 
Additionally, the Coast Guard must ensure background checks contain 
current information. Without this, there is a break in the chain of 
trust that could present a lapse of security.
    Two commenters stated that the requirement to give fingerprints at 
an REC each time a mariner wishes to renew or upgrade his or her 
credentials was arrogant and inconsiderate of the burden it places on 
the industry. The commenters believed it did little to enhance national 
security and asked why it was necessary to continually submit 
fingerprints at an REC while military personnel can submit fingerprints 
at their stations.
    Beginning April 15, 2009, TSA collects fingerprints and proof of 
identity and forwards that information to the NMC to perform a 
background check. The Coast Guard will also be able to obtain certain 
information from the record TSA created when the mariner enrolled for 
his or her TWIC. Therefore, mariners will not have to appear at an REC. 
Those mariners who are not required to obtain a TWIC must still undergo 
another vetting process.
    One commenter said it is unnecessary for mariners to submit 
identity verification for a duplicate credential if a credential is 
lost, stolen, or burned.
    The Coast Guard disagrees. When a duplicate credential is issued, 
the Coast Guard needs to re-verify the identity of the mariner. Without 
this, there is a break in the chain of trust that presents a lapse of 
security.
    One commenter said that arrest records need not be revealed, 
referenced, or discussed in any matter during the credentialing process 
when the outcome is in question. The commenter also suggested removing 
misdemeanor convictions altogether from being a criterion by which a 
mariner or applicant is judged for certification and licensure.
    Although arrest records are not clear evidence of guilt, and 
therefore denial of credentialing is based on a court determination, 
the arrest serves as part of the record and is needed for full 
determination as required by 46 CFR 10.211. The Coast Guard 
acknowledges the commenter's concern. However, these issues have been 
resolved in the TWIC rulemaking. Those mariners who are not required to 
obtain a TWIC must still undergo another vetting process.
    Mariners who feel they were unfairly denied a credential, can 
appeal under the process available from TSA (49 CFR 1515) and/or the 
Coast Guard (46 CFR 1.03). Those mariners who are not required to 
obtain a TWIC must still undergo another vetting process.
    One commenter asked if the Coast Guard thought the state of Montana 
was a legitimate terrorist target and asked what a terrorist attack in 
the state would accomplish.
    A terrorist attack could happen anywhere in the United States, and 
the Coast Guard will require vetting of every merchant mariner seeking 
a credential. Please note that credentials are a Federal document and 
allow the holder to operate anywhere inland in the U.S., coastwise, or 
in foreign waters subject only to the restrictions on the credentials' 
face.
    One commenter expressed concern over the allowance of birth 
certificates and foreign passports as allowable identification. Another 
commenter took issue with the specific types of IDs accepted for 
verification.
    The Coast Guard understands the commenters' concerns. However, this 
requirement is moot as identification required for MMLs is addressed by 
the TWIC final rule which requires all mariners who hold Coast Guard 
credentials to also hold a TWIC. Those mariners who are not required to 
obtain a TWIC must still undergo another vetting process. See 49 CFR 
1572.17, see also 46 CFR 10.221.
    One commenter asked the Coast Guard if fingerprinting/ID checks 
were so critical, why the Coast Guard mails the credential to an 
address at which someone other than the intended recipient might be 
waiting to intercept it.
    The Coast Guard acknowledges the commenter's concern. However, this 
concern has been addressed for mariners requiring a TWIC, which must be 
activated in person to complete the ``chain of trust''. Those mariners 
who are not required to obtain a TWIC must still undergo another 
vetting process.
    One commenter called into question centralizing Marine Licensing 
and Documentation with the NMC and moving it to Martinsburg, WV. By 
doing this, the commenter said, all records could be wiped out with one 
calamity. The commenter was afraid that reducing facilities to one 
location would have the opposite effect on the backlog. Also, the 
commenter asked what happens when the system is down or has no power.
    This comment is beyond the scope of this rulemaking. However, 
current system performance has the average credential being processed 
in approximately 17 days of net processing time with greater than 80 
percent being under 30 days. This is significantly less than the system 
performance while business was conducted at 17 disparate RECs. 
Performance at RECs varied significantly for many reasons. Among other 
benefits, centralization brings consistency across the program. Records 
were and are archived from the RECs to Federal Records Centers just as 
they are from the centralized NMC. Electronic records are backed up 
routinely. Records at any location are subject to loss from natural or 
man induced reasons. The NMC still continues to deal with cases of 
records lost due to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The centralized 
location of the NMC has less potential natural perils than most of the 
coastally located RECs. When the RECs were doing evaluations, they were 
still accessing the same electronic system that they and the 
centralized NMC access today. There are redundant systems and backups 
to mitigate any lost time due to equipment and power failure.
    One commenter noted a conflict in 46 CFR 10.209 regarding the 
requirements of identity documents.
    New regulations are in place regarding identity verification. 
Therefore, this comment is now moot.
    One commenter was in favor of the changes in the interim rule 
because new security requirements make sense in today's world.
    The Coast Guard thanks the commenter and agrees.
    One commenter, who held a commercial pilot's license, asked why a 
mariner seeking a master's license must jump through so many hoops, 
including the $145 fee required for the license itself and the 
requirement to renew every 5 years.
    Under statutory mandate, a mariner's license is valid for 5 years 
and may be renewed, with the required background checks, for additional 
5-year periods. 46 U.S.C. 7106. The Coast Guard has statutory authority 
to set fees for mariner services or things of value. 46 U.S.C. 2110. 
The fee is determined by the actual time and motion costs to the Coast 
Guard for the required evaluation, exam (if any), and issuance of the 
license.
    One commenter disagreed with reducing the number of ``service 
centers'' to 17 RECs and believed the user fees added a substantial 
financial burden to mariners.
    The interim rule did not reduce the number of ``service centers'' 
or RECs. The current number of 17 RECs has

[[Page 35173]]

been in place since 1982. As stated in the response to the previous 
commenter, the Coast Guard has statutory authority to set fees for 
mariner services or things of value. 46 U.S.C. 2110.
    One commenter noted that more than half of the personnel at 
Washington Island Ferry Line Inc., were not required to be licensed.
    Mariners who require no license or MMC were not expected to follow 
the procedures in the interim rule. However, mariners are encouraged to 
check with local authorities to see if a TWIC is necessary in a given 
port area.
    One commenter expressed concern about raising the standards 
defining ``conviction'', which could disqualify some mariners from 
consideration when trying to obtain a credential. The commenter noted 
that there were situations where persons who have made mistakes, paid 
their debt to society and were living as responsible citizens, and they 
should be given a better opportunity to obtain a credential.
    The Coast Guard agrees with this commenter, that persons who have 
been convicted in the past may in fact qualify for work as a mariner. 
Not all crimes serve as permanent disqualifiers, and there are 
procedures in place to allow for waivers or review of certain 
convictions when the individual can show that they are not a security 
or safety risk. Please see TSA appeal and waiver procedures for 
security threat assessments for individuals at 49 CFR Part 1515, see 
also Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Credential, criminal record review at 
46 CFR 10.211.
    Two commenters said credential renewals and upgrades needed to only 
establish that the candidate was the same person who received the 
original license and suggest the Coast Guard authorize employers to 
certify the identification of candidates. The commenters noted that 
employers were trusted to certify sea service and presence in a drug-
testing pool.
    Identification verification meets only half of the criteria for the 
process of obtaining a credential. Candidates must also give 
fingerprints so the authorities can conduct background checks. Also, 
TSA requires personal appearance at an enrollment center for 
fingerprinting and ID checks as part of the TWIC process. Please see 
the TWIC rulemaking for clarification.
    One commenter wanted the Coast Guard to create an MMC that a 
mariner can carry in his or her pocket.
    The NMC began issuing the MMC in early 2009 as a mariner's 
professional qualifications document. It incorporates the legacy 
license, MMD and/or Certificate of Registry as well as a mariner's STCW 
endorsements. The TWIC now serves as the mariner's identity document. 
Please see the TWIC rulemaking for clarification.
    One commenter took issue with the Coast Guard issuing an interim 
rule without seeking comment from industry.
    Due to the immediate needs for heightened security measures to be 
implemented, the publication of an interim rule with a request for 
comments allowed the Coast Guard to immediately implement regulations 
needed to protect national security. However, the interim rule did 
allow for the public to comment on the rule before it became final. 
Those comments are summarized above. Since publication of the interim 
rule, the Coast Guard, TSA, and the Department of Homeland Security 
have considered and addressed the public's concerns in the regulations 
listed above in the ``Background'' section of this document, as these 
same concerns were raised upon promulgation of those other rules.

Intent To Finalize; Request for Comments

    The Coast Guard invites further comments related to this Notice of 
Intent to finalize the one section of the January 13, 2006 interim rule 
that has remained unfinalized, 46 CFR 10.107(b): Definitions in 
subchapter B, specifically, the definition of ``Dangerous drug''. 
Written comments and responses related to finalizing this definition 
will be added to the docket number for this rulemaking (USCG-2004-
17455). Upon close of the comment period, the Coast Guard will consider 
all comments received. We anticipate that we will be able to finalize 
46 CFR 10.107(b) soon thereafter.

    Dated: June 9, 2011.
F.J. Sturm,
Acting Director of Commercial Regulations and Standards.
[FR Doc. 2011-14920 Filed 6-15-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 9110-04-P