Consolidation of Merchant Mariner Qualification Credentials
The Coast Guard proposes to streamline the existing merchant mariner credentialing process to minimize redundant requirements and simplify the credentialing program. This proposed rule works in tandem with the joint Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published by the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) entitled ``Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) Implementation in the Maritime Sector; Hazardous Materials Endorsement for a Commercial Driver's License'' published elsewhere in the Federal Register today. It proposes to combine the individual Merchant Mariner's Document, License, Certificate of Registry, and STCW Endorsement into a single certificate termed the Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC), which will be endorsed to reflect a mariner's qualifications. The Coast Guard also proposes to streamline the application process for the MMC by removing the requirement that all mariners appear at least once at one of 17 Regional Exam Centers (RECs). Instead, the information previously submitted by the applicant at the REC would be submitted to TSA through the TWIC enrollment process and shared with the Coast Guard by TSA.
Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) Implementation in the Maritime Sector; Hazardous Materials Endorsement for a Commercial Driver's License
This is a notice of proposed rulemaking by the Department of Homeland Security, specifically by the Transportation Security Administration and the United States Coast Guard. If promulgated, this rule would implement the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program in the maritime sector. Under this program, merchant mariners holding an active License, Merchant Mariner Document, or Certificate of Registry and workers who require unescorted access to secure areas at maritime facilities or on vessels must undergo a security threat assessment, and, if found to not pose a security threat, obtain a Transportation Worker Identification Credential. Persons without Transportation Worker Identification Credentials will not be granted unescorted access to secure areas at affected maritime facilities or on vessels. Under this proposed rule, the Coast Guard seeks to amend its regulations on vessel and facility security to require the use of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential as an access control measure. It is also proposing to amend its regulations covering merchant mariners to incorporate the requirement to obtain a Transportation Worker Identification Credential. In a separate rulemaking action published elsewhere in this edition of the Federal Register, the Coast Guard also is proposing to consolidate existing licensing and documentation regulations to minimize duplicative or redundant identification or background check requirements. The Transportation Security Administration proposes amending its security threat assessment standards that currently apply to commercial drivers authorized to transport hazardous materials in commerce to also apply to merchant mariners and workers who require unescorted access to secure areas on vessels and at port facilities. These proposed amendments also relate to the notification an employer receives when an employee who holds a hazardous materials endorsement or a Transportation Worker Identification Credential is determined to pose a security threat. The Transportation Security Administration also is proposing regulations dealing with the enrollment of port workers into the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program. In addition, the Transportation Security Administration is proposing a fee, as authorized under the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2004, to pay for the costs related to the issuance of the Transportation Worker Identification Credentials under this rule. This rulemaking would enhance the security of ports by requiring background checks on persons and establishing a biometric access control system to prevent those who pose a security threat from gaining unescorted access to secure areas of ports. This rulemaking implements the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, which requires that credentialed merchant mariners and workers with unescorted access to secured areas of vessels and facilities be subject to a security threat assessment and receive a biometric credential needed to access secured areas.