[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 246 (Thursday, December 22, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 79544-79545]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-32852]



Coast Guard

46 CFR Parts 10, 11, 12, and 15

[Docket No. USCG-2011-0465]

Processing of Merchant Mariner Credentials for Those Mariners Not 
Requiring a Transportation Worker Identification Credential

AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The Coast Guard announces the availability of Policy Letter 
11-15, which describes steps the Coast Guard is taking to implement a 
statutory change in mariner credentialing requirements. This policy 
letter details how the Coast Guard is relaxing its Transportation 
Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) enforcement posture for 
mariners who serve on board vessels that are not required to have a 
vessel security plan. It also describes policy changes to allow these 
mariners to acquire and renew a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) 
without holding a valid TWIC.

DATES: This policy is effective upon publication of this notice.

[[Page 79545]]

ADDRESSES: This notice and the policy are available in the docket and 
can be viewed by going to http://www.regulations.gov, inserting USCG-
2011-0465 in the ``Keyword'' box, and then clicking ``Search.'' This 
material is also available for inspection or copying at the 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, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal Holidays. This policy is also available at http://homeport.uscg.mil by clicking the ``Library'' tab > Policy > Policy 
letters (inspection); CG-543 Policy Letter 11-15.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions on this notice, 
call or email Mr. Luke Harden, Office of Vessel Activities (CG-543), 
(202) 372-1206, email [email protected]. If you have questions on 
viewing or submitting material to the docket, call Renee V. Wright, 
Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone (202) 366-9826.


Background and Purpose

    Coast Guard regulations require every applicant for an original or 
renewal of a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) obtain a Transportation 
Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) (see 46 CFR part 10). These 
Coast Guard regulations implement 46 U.S.C. 70105(b)(2)(B) and (D), 
which originally mandated that all mariners required to hold an MMC 
also obtain and hold a valid TWIC. On October 15, 2010, the President 
signed into law the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 (the Act) 
(Pub. L. 111-281), which amended Sec. 70105(b)(2) by exempting certain 
mariners from the requirement to obtain and hold a valid TWIC (See 
Section 809 of the Act).
    While Section 809 did not exclude any specific group of 
credentialed mariners from the requirement to possess a TWIC, it gave 
the Coast Guard discretion to exclude any mariner, who does not require 
unescorted access to a secure area of a vessel or facility, from that 
requirement (see 46 U.S.C. 70105). The Coast Guard has determined that, 
under Section 809 of the Act, mariners who do not need unescorted 
access to a secure area designated by a vessel security plan in 
accordance with reference (c), no longer require a TWIC.
    Although full implementation of Section 809 of the Act may require 
regulatory changes, the Coast Guard is issuing Policy Letter 11-15 to 
implement two policy mechanisms that uses Coast Guard resources and 
capabilities to lessen the impact while working on a regulatory 
solution that will address the full scope of Section 809. First, 
because the Coast Guard enforces its regulations by checking the 
validity of TWICs while conducting inspections of vessels where the 
credentials of mariners are checked, the Coast Guard is altering its 
enforcement posture: excluded mariners will not be required to present 
a valid TWIC during Coast Guard inspections. Second, we are 
implementing policies that would make it easier for certain excluded 
mariners to renew or acquire an MMC, without having to show proof of 
holding a valid TWIC. Policy Letter 11-15 details procedures by which 
excluded mariners do not need to obtain a physical TWIC in order to 
receive an MMC, and mariners can renew an existing MMC even if their 
TWIC has expired.
    We recognize that even after these policy changes many excluded 
mariners will continue to need or choose to go through the TWIC 
enrollment process. This is because the current MMC credentialing 
process requires inputs from the TWIC enrollment process. The Coast 
Guard relies on biometric and biographic information collected as part 
of the TWIC enrollment process, in the security, safety, and 
suitability evaluation component of Coast Guard's MMC credentialing 
process. It is not possible, at this time, to issue new MMCs without 
mariners going through the TWIC enrollment process. Separating the two 
processes would require a significant credentialing process and 
administration restructuring that is not feasible on a short timeline.
    These policy changes, however, will help to reduce the fees 
mariners pay to obtain or renew a MMC, as well as reduce the burden of 
having to make multiple trips to a TWIC enrollment center to apply for 
and collect a TWIC. While we recognize that some mariners, particularly 
those applying for their original MMC, will still have to pay the TWIC 
enrollment fee, we believe that these policy changes will substantially 
reduce the regulatory burden on excluded mariners. The Coast Guard is 
exploring the possibility of a regulatory change to waive some fees 
associated with the MMC for excluded mariners, to further reduce the 
burdens in the future.

List of Excluded Mariners

    The list of excluded mariners subject to the adjusted enforcement 
and credentialing policies detailed in Policy Letter 11-15 is limited 
to those mariners who function solely in the following roles:
    1. Mariners serving on uninspected passenger vessels of less than 
100 gross register tons (GRT);
    2. Mariners serving on vessels inspected under subchapter T of 
Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations, except those on international 
    3. Mariners serving on towing vessels not involved in towing barges 
inspected under 46 CFR subchapters D, I or O;
    4. Mariners serving on towing vessels involved in fleeting, 
docking, or ship assist as excepted in Title 33 CFR, Section 
104.105(a)(11); and
    5. Mariners who are inactive, or not operating under the authority 
of their credential for long periods of time.
    This notice is issued under authority of 46 U.S.C. 70105, 33 CFR 
parts 104 and 105, 46 CFR parts 10, 11, and 15, 5 U.S.C. 552(a).

    Dated: December 19, 2011.
Paul F. Thomas,
Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Acting Director of Prevention Policy.
[FR Doc. 2011-32852 Filed 12-20-11; 11:15 am]