[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 180 (Wednesday, September 16, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 57757-57765]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-18298]


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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

Coast Guard

46 CFR Part 11

[Docket No. USCG-2017-1025]
RIN 1625-AC42


Crediting Recent Sea Service of Personnel Serving on Vessels of 
the Uniformed Services

AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Coast Guard is extending the period, from 3 years to 7 
years, in which sea service aboard vessels of the uniformed services 
can be used to satisfy the requirement for recent sea service to 
qualify for a Merchant Mariner Credential with a national officer 
endorsement.

DATES: This final rule is effective September 16, 2020.

ADDRESSES: To view comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking and 
documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, 
go to http://www.regulations.gov, type USCG-2017-1025 in the ``SEARCH'' 
box and click ``SEARCH.'' Click on Open Docket Folder on the line 
associated with this rule.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information about this document 
call or email Cathleen Mauro, Office of Merchant Mariner Credentialing 
(CG-MMC-1), Coast Guard; telephone 202-372-1449, email 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Table of Contents for Preamble

I. Abbreviations
II. Basis and Purpose
III. Background
IV. Discussion of Comments
V. Discussion of the Rule
VI. Regulatory Analyses
    A. Regulatory Planning and Review
    B. Small Entities
    C. Assistance for Small Entities
    D. Collection of Information
    E. Federalism
    F. Unfunded Mandates
    G. Taking of Private Property
    H. Civil Justice Reform
    I. Protection of Children
    J. Indian Tribal Governments
    K. Energy Effects
    L. Technical Standards
    M. Environment

I. Abbreviations

BLS Bureau of Labor Statistics
CFR Code of Federal Regulations
DHS Department of Homeland Security
FR Federal Register
ICR Information Collection Request
MMC Merchant Mariner Credential
MMLD Merchant Mariner Licensing and Documentation System
NMC National Maritime Center
NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NPRM Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
PHS Public Health Service
RA Regulatory Analysis
RFA Regulatory Flexibility ACT
Sec.  Section
U.S.C. United States Code

II. Basis and Purpose

    Under 46 CFR 11.201(c)(2), an applicant for a national officer 
endorsement on a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) must have at least 3 
months of required service on vessels of appropriate tonnage or 
horsepower within the 3 years immediately

[[Page 57758]]

preceding the date of application. Section 305 of the Howard Coble 
Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014 \1\ amended 46 
U.S.C. 7101 to specifically authorize the Coast Guard to extend the 
period from 3 years to 7 years for individuals whose 3 months of 
qualifying sea service was aboard vessels of the uniformed services. 
Such individuals must also satisfy all other requirements for a 
national officer endorsement on an MMC. In this final rule, consistent 
with the statutory authorization, we establish in regulation a 7-year 
period within which the attainment of 3 months of qualifying sea 
service aboard vessels of the uniformed services can be used to satisfy 
the requirement for recent sea service to qualify for an MMC with a 
national officer endorsement.\2\ This regulatory change affects only 46 
CFR part 11, ``Requirements for officer endorsements,'' and, 
specifically, only 46 CFR 11.201(c)(2).
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    \1\ Public Law 113-281, 128 Stat. 3022 (2014).
    \2\ The change is also consistent with Executive Order 13860, 
Supporting the Transition of Active Duty Service Members and 
Military Veterans Into the Merchant Marine, 84 FR 8407 (Mar. 7, 
2019). See also Public Law 113-281, Sec.  305(c), 46 U.S.C. 7302 
note.
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    In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1) and (3), this rule will 
become effective upon the date of publication in the Federal Register. 
Under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1), an agency is permitted to make ``a 
substantive rule which grants or recognizes an exemption or relieves a 
restriction . . .'' to become immediately effective. This rule relieves 
a restriction by extending the period, from 3 years to 7 years, in 
which sea service aboard vessels of the uniformed services can be used 
to satisfy the requirement for recent sea service to qualify for a 
Merchant Mariner Credential with a national officer endorsement.

III. Background

    Individuals serving on vessels of the uniformed services represent 
a population who may qualify for an MMC. When these individuals spend 
the final years of their careers assigned to shoreside units, the 
requirement in 46 CFR 11.201(c)(2) to have at least 3 months of 
qualifying sea service within 3 years of application for an officer 
endorsement poses an obstacle to meeting the requirement for recent sea 
service. This rule will update the recent sea service requirements for 
a person to qualify for a national officer endorsement based on sea 
service aboard vessels of the uniformed services.
    On December 18, 2014, Congress amended 46 U.S.C. 7101 by adding 
paragraph (j), which authorized the Coast Guard to extend the period 
from 3 years to 7 years for individuals whose 3 months of qualifying 
sea service was aboard vessels of the uniformed services. Subsequent to 
enactment of 46 U.S.C. 7101(j)(1), the Coast Guard issued CG-CVC Policy 
Letter 15-03, ``Crediting Recent Service of Uniformed Service 
Personnel,'' \3\ on October 16, 2015, to implement 46 U.S.C. 7101(j)(1) 
until a rulemaking could be completed.
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    \3\ CG-CVC Policy Letter 15-03 can be accessed at: https://www.dco.uscg.mil/Portals/9/DCO%20Documents/5p/CG-5PC/CG-CVC/Policy%20Letters/2015/CG-CVC_pol15-03.pdf.
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IV. Discussion of Comments

    In the 2019 Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM),\4\ the Coast 
Guard requested comments on our proposal to extend, from 3 years to 7 
years, the period for qualifying sea service that is the subject of 
this final rule. The Coast Guard received no comments on that proposal. 
Accordingly, the Coast Guard has made no changes from the proposed rule 
in response to public comment.
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    \4\ 84 FR 48842, September 17, 2019.
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    In the same NPRM, the Coast Guard asked for public input on two 
related questions that were not part of the proposal. The Coast Guard 
received input from two commenters in response to these questions. The 
questions were:
    (1) Should the period for ``recent'' service be extended to 7 years 
for all national officer endorsements?; and
    (2) Is it necessary to have a requirement for recent sea service 
for an original, renewal, or raise of grade of an MMC with a national 
officer endorsement?
    The responses to these questions do not impact this rulemaking, but 
may be used to inform future Coast Guard decisions on regulatory 
initiatives regarding the requirement for recent sea service. We 
summarize the comments here.
    The Coast Guard asked if the period for recent sea service should 
be extended to 7 years for all national officer endorsements. The Coast 
Guard received input from two commenters in response to this question. 
The first commenter does not support extending the period of recent sea 
service to 7 years for all national officer endorsements. This 
commenter discusses the rapid changes in technology that make it 
critical for mariners to have recent service in order to maintain 
familiarization with current equipment, associated practices, and safe 
shipboard operations. Further, this commenter notes the importance of 
recent service on vessels of appropriate horsepower and tonnage so that 
mariners will have experience on vessels with handling characteristics, 
navigation equipment, and firefighting equipment relevant to the 
endorsement they are seeking.
    The second commenter supports extending to 7 years the period of 
recent service for all original national officer endorsements, not just 
those for uniformed service members. This commenter believes extending 
the period within which recent service can be obtained to all mariners 
would create an even standard regardless of how they obtained their 
qualifying sea service, and would provide an equitable option within 
the industry without a negative impact to safety. This same commenter 
does not support extending the period for required service to 7 years 
in the case of renewing an MMC officer endorsement or raising the grade 
of an existing officer endorsement.
    The Coast Guard also asked if a recent sea service requirement is 
necessary for an original, renewal, or raise of grade of an MMC with a 
national officer endorsement. The Coast Guard received input from two 
commenters in response to this question. Both commenters support the 
requirement for recent sea service to obtain a national officer 
endorsement. The commenters emphasized the importance of ensuring the 
competency of mariners who make operational decisions that could impact 
the safety of life, cargo, and the marine environment. The second 
commenter supported the recent sea service requirement as a means of 
ensuring competency within the maritime workforce, believing it is 
important for mariners to have experience on the job before serving in 
positions of authority where safety could be adversely affected by a 
lack of experience. With respect to renewals, both commenters believe 
the existing regulatory requirements for renewing an officer 
endorsement provide reasonable options for mariners who do not have 
recent sea service to renew a credential and return to employment 
within the industry. See 46 CFR 10.227(e) for the available options a 
mariner may use, other than recent sea service, to meet the 
professional requirements for renewal. The commenters also state that 
the renewal options allowed under 46 CFR 10.227(e) should not be 
extended for raising the grade of an officer endorsement due to the 
nature of taking on increased responsibility and, therefore, having an 
increased role in ensuring the safety of a vessel.
    The first commenter also expressed concern over the training of 
Coast Guard

[[Page 57759]]

personnel evaluating MMC applications, specifically with regard to the 
tonnage and horsepower portion of the recent service requirements. 
However, the training of Coast Guard personnel evaluating MMC 
applications is outside the scope of this rulemaking.

V. Discussion of the Rule

    As specifically authorized by 46 U.S.C. 7101(j)(1), and consistent 
with existing policy, the Coast Guard is amending 46 CFR 11.201(c)(2) 
to allow individuals who have attained qualifying sea service aboard 
vessels of the uniformed services within 7 years preceding the date of 
application for a national officer endorsement to use this service to 
satisfy the requirement for recent sea service. The Coast Guard is also 
amending the regulation to allow applicants to use a combination of sea 
service obtained on vessels of appropriate tonnage or horsepower within 
3 years preceding the date of application with sea service obtained on 
vessels of the uniformed services within 7 years preceding the date of 
application to meet the requirement for 3 months of recent sea service. 
Allowing for a combination of service provides maximum flexibility for 
applicants in meeting the service requirements for a for a national 
officer endorsement. This rule uses, without change, the regulatory 
text proposed in the NPRM.

VI. Regulatory Analyses

    We developed this rule after considering numerous statutes and 
Executive Orders related to rulemaking. Below we summarize our analyses 
based on these statutes or Executive Orders.

Regulatory Planning and Review

    Executive Orders 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review) and 13563 
(Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review) direct agencies to assess 
the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if 
regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize 
net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public 
health and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). Executive 
Order 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying costs and 
benefits, reducing costs, harmonizing rules, and promoting flexibility. 
Executive Order 13771 (Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory 
Costs) directs agencies to reduce regulation and control regulatory 
costs and provides that ``for every one new regulation issued, at least 
two prior regulations be identified for elimination, and that the cost 
of planned regulations be prudently managed and controlled through a 
budgeting process.''
    The OMB has not designated this rule a significant regulatory 
action under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, OMB 
has not reviewed it. Because this rule is not a significant regulatory 
action, this rule is exempt from the requirements of Executive Order 
13771. See the OMB Memorandum titled ``Guidance Implementing Executive 
Order 13771, titled `Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory 
Costs' '' (April 5, 2017). A regulatory analysis (RA) follows.
    We did not receive public comments regarding the regulatory 
analysis of the proposed rule; therefore, we adopt the preliminary 
regulatory analysis of the proposed rule as final. However, we have 
updated this analysis using 2018 wage rate estimates, which are 
reflected in the revised analysis below.
    This final rule will revise existing regulations related to the 
requirement for recent sea service to qualify for an MMC with a 
national officer endorsement. Specifically, it will amend 46 CFR 
11.201(c)(2) by establishing a 7-year period within which the 
attainment of 3 months of qualifying sea service aboard vessels of the 
uniformed services would satisfy the requirement for recent sea 
service. This change will apply to original and raise of grade national 
officer endorsement applicants who have served on vessels of the 
uniformed services. Under 10 U.S.C. 101(a)(5), ``uniformed services'' 
means the armed forces, the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic 
and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the commissioned corps of 
the Public Health Service (PHS). To estimate the impact of the 
increased timeframe to attain the 3 months of qualifying sea service 
that is necessary to satisfy the requirement for recent sea service, we 
examined data on officer endorsement applications provided by the 
National Maritime Center (NMC).
    This final rule intends to update the regulatory requirements with 
the service standard authorized under 46 U.S.C 7101(j)(I). This service 
standard was implemented by the Coast Guard through CG-CVC Policy 
Letter 15-03 on an interim basis until a rulemaking could be completed.
    CG-CVC Policy Letter 15-03 intended to increase the number of 
qualified applicants for a national officer endorsement, which will 
subsequently increase the pool of credentialed mariners supporting U.S. 
commerce and the growth of the marine transportation system. However, 
after examining the existing data, it was not possible to estimate the 
extent of any increases. Information provided by the NMC from the 
Merchant Mariner Licensing and Documentation (MMLD) system was used to 
estimate the number of mariners that may be affected by this rule. The 
data available from 2016-2018 indicates that applicants for an original 
endorsement or raise of grade to an existing endorsement may be able to 
utilize previous sea service on vessels of the uniformed services to 
meet the professional requirements for a national officer endorsement. 
Meeting the requirements for an original officer endorsement may allow 
a mariner to be employed at a higher initial wage rate. We present an 
analysis of the potential positive distributional impacts (qualitative) 
on mariners in the benefits section.
    This final rule will increase the period from 3 years to 7 years 
within which qualifying sea service aboard vessels of the uniformed 
services can be used to satisfy the requirement for recent sea service 
to qualify for an MMC with a national officer endorsement. Although 
this final rule will provide increased flexibility to applicants for an 
MMC, the Coast Guard cannot conclusively determine how many individuals 
will take advantage of this flexibility or estimate the impact of 
increasing the period from 3 years to 7 years on the number of total 
qualified merchant mariners--therefore, we did not estimate costs. 
Although the annual average number of original and raise of grade 
national officer endorsements is decreasing, the number of individuals 
using prior service on vessels of the uniformed services is increasing 
based on data between 2016-2018. The Coast Guard did not receive any 
public comments to supplement this analysis and no additional data has 
become available. Therefore, we are unable to determine the source of 
the increase in national officer endorsements issued with sea service 
on vessels of the uniformed services (see table 1).

[[Page 57760]]



            Table 1--Summary of the Impacts of the Final Rule
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           Category                             Summary
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Applicability................  Amend requirement in 46 CFR 11.201(c)(2)
                                to 3 months of qualifying sea service
                                within 7 years of application for a
                                national officer endorsement for
                                individuals who have service on vessels
                                of the uniformed services.
Potentially Affected           Based on a historical estimate of the
 Population.                    proportion of individuals who used prior
                                service on vessels of the uniformed
                                services to the number of original and
                                raise of grade national officer
                                endorsements issued between 2016 and
                                2018, we estimate that about 516
                                prospective mariners may apply annually
                                for an MMC with a national officer
                                endorsement utilizing service on vessels
                                of the uniformed services. However, the
                                data did not allow us to conclusively
                                estimate the increase in mariners due to
                                annual fluctuations in the applications
                                as a result of factors external to this
                                rule.
Costs........................  No costs estimated because this final
                                rule will only provide increasing
                                flexibility for qualified merchant
                                mariners.
Unit Fee and Wage estimates    Unit costs for individuals who will take
 (these are no costs for the    advantage of the flexibility provided by
 final rule).                   the rule include the evaluation,
                                examination, and issuance fees for an
                                MMC--that ranges from $45-$110 for a
                                total unit cost of $255 for each
                                individual--and the labor time it takes
                                to fill out the forms at the respective
                                loaded mean hourly wage rates and
                                submission to the NMC that ranges from 5
                                to 18 minutes. The loaded mean hourly
                                wage rates for individuals range from
                                $26.99 to $57.95.
Unquantified Benefits........   Potential for an increased pool
                                of qualified mariners supporting U.S.
                                commerce and the growth of the marine
                                transportation system.
                                Potential for an increase in the
                                number of job opportunities for
                                individuals who have served on vessels
                                of the uniformed services.
                                Potential for an increase in the
                                starting wage rate for mariners who will
                                now qualify for a national officer
                                endorsement.
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Note: Please see the benefit section of this analysis for the wage rates
  in this table.

Affected Population

    Section 7101(j)(1) of 46 U.S.C. applies to applicants that have 3 
months of qualifying service on vessels of the uniformed services 
within the 7 years immediately preceding the date of application. The 
pool of applicants who will be affected by this final rule are current 
and former members of the U.S. armed forces,\5\ the commissioned corps 
of NOAA and PHS, and civilians who attained qualifying sea service 
aboard vessels of the uniformed services within 7 years preceding the 
date of application for a national officer endorsement. There are 
approximately 1.34 million military personnel serving in the U.S. armed 
forces, 683,063 personnel serving in the Reserve,\6\ and approximately 
727,000 civilians employed by the uniformed services.7 8 9 
To estimate the number of people potentially affected by this final 
rule, we examined data provided by the NMC. The NMC evaluates MMC 
applications and issues credentials to qualified mariners. As noted in 
section IV, on December 18, 2014, Congress amended 46 U.S.C. 7101 to 
authorize the Coast Guard to extend the period by which a mariner can 
obtain 3 months of qualifying sea service aboard vessels of the 
uniformed services from 3 years to 7 years to satisfy the requirement 
for recent sea service. Following that, in October 2015, CG-CVC Policy 
Letter 15-03 was published to implement 46 U.S.C. 7101(j)(1) on an 
interim basis until the Coast Guard could complete a rulemaking. This 
analysis utilized Coast Guard data from the MMLD database on all 
original and raise of grade national officer endorsements issued 
beginning in 2010, and original and raise of grade national officer 
endorsements issued utilizing prior sea service on vessels of the 
uniformed services beginning in 2016. In 2016, the NMC began 
identifying applications utilizing prior service aboard vessels of the 
uniformed services to meet the requirement for recent sea service under 
46 CFR 11.201(c)(2). The data spans from January 2016 through December 
2018 to include 36 months (unless otherwise noted). Therefore, given 
the data availability, we use the statistical baseline of 2016 for this 
analysis. The observations are as follows:
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    \5\ Under 10 U.S.C. 101(a)(4), the U.S. armed forces includes 
the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Navy, and Marines Corps.
    \6\ The Reserve consists of the Army National Guard, the Army 
Reserve, the Navy Reserve, the Marine Corps Reserve, the Air 
National Guard, the Coast Guard Reserve, and the Air Force Reserve.
    \7\ Armed forces civilian personnel data from https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2011/compendia/statab/131ed/national-security-veterans-affairs.html, accessed March 26, 2019.
    Armed forces and Reserves population data from https://www.cna.org/pop-rep/2017/summary/summary.pdf, accessed March 24, 
2020. Readers can find the data in Table 1. U.S. armed forces is 
1.34 million (1,294,520 + 41,553). The Reserve is 683,063 (677,892 + 
5,171).U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) public data, accessed 24 
March 2020, https://usphs.gov/aboutus/leadership.aspx.
    NOAA public data, accessed July 14, 2018, https://www.fedscope.opm.gov/ibmcognos/cgi-bin/cognosisapi.dll. To access, 
use the following path: FSe--Employment Generic, Employment--March 
2018 Generic, Agency--All Agencies, CM54--National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration. This link is only accessible by a 
government computer.
    \8\ As stated in CG-CVC Policy Letter No. 15-03, section 
(4)(a)(3), this will also apply to civilian mariners working aboard 
vessels of the uniformed services. For example, the more-than 5000 
civil servant mariners who work aboard Military Sealift Command 
vessels, the union contract mariners who sail aboard NOAA vessels, 
and the Navy-owned prepositioning vessels.
    \9\ There are approximately 709,265 DoD civilian personnel, 
6,500 PHS personnel, and 11,268 NOAA personnel. 709,265 + 6,500 + 
11,268 = 727,033, which is rounded to 727,000.
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    (1) The annual average number of original and raise of grade 
national officer endorsements issued is 7,203 (as observed from 2010-
2018). In Figure 1, we show the results of our observation of 
historical data indicating that the number of annual officer 
endorsements issued from 2010-2018 is on a downward trend.
    (2) In 2016, there were 7,165 original and raise of grade national 
officer endorsements issued, of which 356 used prior service on vessels 
of the uniformed services to meet the requirements for the 
endorsement.\10\ This is equivalent to approximately 5.0 percent (356 / 
7,165). In 2017, there were 6,330 original and raise of grade national 
officer endorsements issued, of which 495 used prior service on vessels 
of the uniformed services to meet the requirements for the endorsement. 
This is equivalent to approximately 7.8 percent (495 / 6,330). In 2018, 
there were 5,748 original and raise of grade national officer 
endorsements issued, of which 501 used prior service on vessels of the 
uniformed services to meet the requirements for the endorsement. This 
is equivalent to approximately 8.7 percent (501 / 5,748).
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    \10\ Qualification meaning prior service on vessels of the 
uniformed services to meet the requirement for recent sea service to 
qualify for a national officer endorsement.

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[[Page 57761]]

    (3) The average percentage of original and raise of grade national 
officer endorsements issued using prior sea service aboard vessels of 
the uniformed services is about 7.2 percent ([0.05 + 0.078 + 0.087] / 3 
= 0.072 or 7.2 percent).
    (4) Using the figure derived in (1) and the figure derived in (3), 
the Coast Guard found the average number of (estimated) national 
officer endorsements using prior sea service aboard vessels of the 
uniformed services to be 516 per year (7,203 average annual number of 
national officer endorsements issued x 0.072 percentage of national 
officer endorsements issued using prior sea service on vessels of the 
uniformed services).\11\
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    \11\ Slight errors may be due to rounding.
    [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR16SE20.001
    
Costs Analysis

    This final rule will amend 46 CFR 11.201(c)(2) and establish a 7-
year period within which the attainment of 3 months of qualifying sea 
service aboard vessels of the uniformed services could be used to 
satisfy the requirement for recent sea service to qualify for a 
national officer endorsement, which is the current industry practice. 
Therefore, we expect the rule to generate no cost to industry and the 
Federal Government. Following the publication of CG-CVC Policy Letter 
15-03, the Coast Guard anticipated an increase in the total number of 
MMCs issued with original or raise of grade national officer 
endorsements. In 2016, the NMC began collecting data on the number of 
applicants using prior sea service aboard vessels of the uniformed 
service.\12\ As shown in table 2, the total number of national officer 
endorsements issued, either original or raise of grade, decreased 
approximately 20 percent from 2016-2018. However, the number of 
national officer endorsements issued, either original or raise of 
grade, that utilized sea service on vessels of the uniformed services 
increased approximately 41 percent [(501-356) / 356].
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    \12\ The data is available for years 2016-2018, which leads to a 
baseline year of 2016.

[[Page 57762]]



                                  Table 2--National Officer Endorsements Issued
                                                   [2016-2018]
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                        National Officer Endorsements Issued--Original and Raise of Grade
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Year............................................................            2016            2017            2018
Applications....................................................           7,165           6,330           5,748
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  National Officer Endorsements Issued with Service on Vessels of the Uniformed Services--Original and Raise of
                                                      Grade
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Year............................................................            2016            2017            2018
Applications....................................................             356             495             501
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    As stated previously, this rule expects to increase the number of 
qualified applicants for a national officer endorsements that will 
ultimately lead to an increase in the number of credentialed mariners. 
However, even with the increase in the national officer endorsements 
issued utilizing sea service on vessels of the uniformed services, the 
decrease in national officer endorsements issued from 2010-2018 is 
significant enough to conclude that the population of credentialed 
mariners is decreasing.
    In addition, due to data limitations described above, we cannot 
ascertain if the increase in national officer endorsements issued with 
sea service on vessels of the uniformed services from 2016-2018 was due 
to applicants utilizing sea service on vessels of the uniformed 
services resulting from CG-CVC Policy Letter 15-03 or if it was just 
part of the annual fluctuations in applications.
    As a result, we are unable to estimate the impact of CG-CVC Policy 
Letter 15-03 on the number of original or raise of grade national 
officer endorsements issued, and we are also unable to conclusively 
estimate the impact of this rule on the number of total qualified 
merchant mariners. Without being able to estimate the increase in the 
number of original or raise of grade national officer endorsements 
issued utilizing prior service on vessels of the uniformed services as 
directly related to CG-CVC Policy Letter 15-03, we are unable to assign 
costs to this rule.
    Although there are no costs for this rule, we present a unit cost 
estimate for a mariner to obtain an MMC. The fees associated with an 
application for an MMC are established in 46 CFR 10.219. The fees for 
an original or raise of grade national officer endorsement include 
evaluation, examination, and issuance fees ranging from $45-$110. We 
also estimate it takes a mariner between 5 and 18 minutes (based on 
NMC's OMB-approved Information Collection Request (ICR), with a control 
number of 1625-0040), at a respective mariner's loaded hourly wage rate 
(see table 3) to fill out the MMC application for submission to the 
NMC. However, because this rule will extend the period of time a 
mariner has to attain 3 months of qualifying sea service aboard vessels 
of the uniformed services from 3 years to 7 years, which has been the 
industry practice since 2015 when CG-CVC Policy Letter 15-03 went into 
effect, there is no cost associated with this change.
    Because we cannot determine the impact on the number of national 
officer endorsements issued related to CG-CVC Policy Letter 15-03, we 
also cannot estimate the government costs associated with this 
rulemaking. However, we are able to provide the following assessment of 
government costs for clarification purposes only. It normally takes a 
Coast Guard evaluator at the GS-8 level with a loaded mean hourly wage 
of $49 approximately 45 minutes to review the MMC application and 
associated documentation for a unit cost of about $36.75.\13\ 
Government costs would result if there were an increase in applications 
for MMCs or if the time to evaluate the application changed from the 
estimated time in the ICR with a control number of 1625-0040. This 
would be realized at the NMC where applications for MMCs are evaluated 
and credentials are issued.
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    \13\ Information provided by the NMC. The mean hourly wage rate 
for a GS-8 employee is $49, ``Outside Government Rate'', per 
Commandant Instruction 7310.1T, November 2018.
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Benefits

    This final rule will align the regulations in 46 CFR 11.201(c) with 
the authority granted in 46 U.S.C. 7101(j)(1) with no negative economic 
impact on the affected population. As mentioned earlier in this 
document, the Coast Guard issued CG-CVC Policy Letter 15-03 to 
implement 46 U.S.C. 7101(j)(1) on an interim basis until a rulemaking 
could be completed. Without the regulatory change made by this final 
rule, our regulations would not reflect the most up-to-date sea service 
standard specifically authorized under 46 U.S.C. 7101(j)(1). 
Accordingly, this final rule helps avoid confusion by ensuring the most 
up-to-date applicable standard is incorporated in the regulation.
    The Coast Guard has identified several qualitative benefits for 
this rule. The final rule will improve the pathways to qualify for an 
MMC with a national officer endorsement and increase the number of job 
opportunities for individuals with experience aboard vessels of the 
uniformed services. This also provides the ability for a larger pool of 
mariners to enter the workforce at a higher pay rate than they would 
have realized prior to CG-CVC Policy Letter 15-03. Although there is 
also a potential for an increase in the pool of applicants, at this 
time the data does not allow us to estimate this impact. While there 
was a 41 percent increase in the number of original and raise of grade 
national officer endorsements issued utilizing prior sea service on 
vessels of the uniformed services, there was also a corresponding 20 
percent decrease (see table 2) in the number of original and raise of 
grade national officer endorsements issued that did not utilize prior 
sea service from 2016-2018. The 20 percent decrease is a more 
significant indication of the annual credentialing trend as compared to 
the 41 percent increase to the population that did use prior sea 
service as part of their application. At this time, the data is not 
robust enough to allow us to estimate the impact of CG-CVC Policy 
Letter 15-03 on the number of original and raise of grade national 
officer endorsements issued.
    Providing a method for individuals to use recent sea service on 
vessels of the uniformed services to qualify for an MMC with a national 
officer endorsement could result in the opportunity for them to be 
initially employed at a higher pay rate, which leads to the possibility 
of favorable wage impacts to the mariner. Below, we describe the 
potential increase in wages to the mariner resulting from having 
previous service on vessels of the uniformed services.
    To estimate the potential wage impacts to the mariner, we compared

[[Page 57763]]

the shipboard wage rates for an individual with an MMC with an officer 
endorsement to that of an individual with an MMC with a rating 
endorsement. The job categories for individuals with an officer 
endorsement as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) are as 
follows: (1) Deck Officers, to include captains, mates, and pilots for 
water vessels; and (2) Engine Officers, to include ship engineers. The 
job categories for ratings are as follows: (1) Deck, including sailors; 
and (2) Engine, including marine oilers. If an applicant was unable to 
meet the existing 3-year requirement for recent sea service to qualify 
for an MMC with a national officer endorsement, they may seek 
employment as a rating to obtain recent sea service.14 15 
Ratings are employed at a lower wage rate than officers. Tables 3 and 4 
show the calculation for the loaded wage factor and the loaded wage 
rate for each personnel category. As described in table 4, individuals 
who do not hold an officer endorsement are classified as a rating paid 
at a lower wage than those that have an officer endorsement aboard a 
vessel. To meet the requirement for 3 months of recent sea service for 
an MMC with a national officer endorsement, an individual would have to 
spend that time employed as a rating aboard a vessel.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \14\ For officers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/2018/may/oes535021.htm and https://www.bls.gov/oes/2018/may/oes535031.htm; 
for ratings: https://www.bls.gov/oes/2018/may/oes535011.htm. The 
mean hourly wage figure is what is used in the Coast Guard 
calculation.
    \15\ Currently, there are 45 types of officer endorsements and 
12 types of rating endorsements available for an MMC. Because the 
BLS does not have wage information on all of these endorsement 
types, these categories were chosen as the best categories to 
encompass the endorsement types.

                                     Table 3--Loaded Wage Factor Calculation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                       Total          Wage &       Loaded  wage
         Personnel category                  Data source           compensation      salaries         factor
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
All Workers Private Industry.......  BLS Employer Costs for               $27.83          $18.84           1.477
                                      Employee Compensation, all
                                      workers private industry,
                                      service providing,
                                      production, transportation
                                      and materials moving.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                        Table 4--Loaded Wage Calculation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                   Mean  hourly    Loaded  wage     Loaded wage
         Personnel category                  Data source               wage           factor          ($2018)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Deck Officers......................  Wage Rate: 2018 mean hourly          $39.61           1.477          $58.50
                                      wage for Captains, Mates,
                                      and Pilots of Water
                                      Vessels.
Engine Officers....................  Wage Rate: 2018 mean hourly           36.40           1.477           53.76
                                      wage for Ship Engineers.
Deck and Engine Ratings............  Wage Rate: 2018 mean hourly           22.20           1.477           32.79
                                      wage for Sailors and
                                      Marine Oilers.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Numbers may not sum due to independent rounding.

    We estimate the loaded hourly wage rate \16\ to be $58.50 for Deck 
Officers and $53.76 for Engine Officers, respectively. This equates to 
an average loaded mean hourly wage rate for officers of $56.13.\17\ We 
estimate the loaded mean hourly wage rate of Deck and Engine ratings to 
be $32.79.18 19
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \16\ Employer Costs for Employee Compensation provides 
information on the employer compensation and can be found at https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/dsrv?cm. To obtain the load factor, we used 
the multi-screen database and searched for ``private industry 
workers'' under ``total compensation'' and then for ``Service 
providing'' in the category ``Production, transportation and 
materials moving Occupations'', within the United States. Similarly, 
we followed the same steps to get the value for ``wages and 
salaries'' to calculate the load factor, we used the series ID 
CMU201S000500000D and CMU202S000500000D and 2019 quarter 3. The 
loaded wage factor is equal to the total compensation of $27.83 
divided by the wages and salary of $18.84 ($27.83 / $18.84) = 1.477.
    \17\ To get the average loaded hourly labor rate for ratings, 
the calculation is ($58.50 + $53.76) / 2 = $56.13.
    \18\ All wage rates are in 2018 dollars.
    \19\ Slight calculation adjustments may occur due to rounding.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To obtain the wage difference for the period a person would need to 
work as a rating on board a vessel to obtain recent sea service to 
qualify for a national officer endorsement, we must first calculate the 
3-month wage for a rating, then calculate the 3-month wage for an 
officer, and then calculate the difference. We estimated the working 
hours in a 3-month, or 90-day period, to be 720 hours (90 working days, 
including weekends, multiplied by 8-hour working days).\20\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \20\ Per the subject matter expert, the working hours is 7 days 
a week, 8 hours per day.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Using the calculated loaded mean hourly wage rate for Deck and 
Engine ratings, the Coast Guard calculated the total wages for a 3-
month time period to be $23,608.80 ($32.79 x 720). Using the calculated 
average loaded mean hourly wage rate for officers, we calculated the 
total wages for a 3-month time period to be $40,413.60 ($56.13 x 
720).\21\ We can then calculate the loss in wages from being unable to 
qualify for an MMC with a national officer endorsement for a 3-month 
period. The difference in wages totals $16,804.80 ($40,413.60-
$23,608.80) per mariner. See table 5 below.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \21\ Slight calculation adjustments may occur due to rounding.

                                         Table 5--90-Day Wage Difference
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                    Loaded mean     90 Days  in     90 Days  in
                       Personnel category                           hourly wage        hours        wages \22\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Deck and Engine Officers........................................          $56.13             720      $40,413.60
Deck and Engine Ratings.........................................           32.79             720      $23,608.80
Individual Difference (Impact)..................................  ..............  ..............    ($16,804.80)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 57764]]

    In summary, although we were unable to estimate the impact of this 
rule on the number of merchant mariners available for employment on 
commercial vessels, we provide an estimate of the potential wage 
increases to the mariner if they are initially credentialed as an 
officer versus a rating. By increasing the period to meet the 
requirement for recent sea service to qualify for an MMC with a 
national officer endorsement, an individual forgoes having to work at a 
lower pay rate to obtain the prerequisite service for an officer 
endorsement. A potential increase in the entry wage rate for the 
applicant, if they are able to take advantage of this opportunity, 
could lead to an improved quality of life for the mariners who will now 
qualify for an MMC with a national officer endorsement.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \22\ Figures may not add due to rounding.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Regulatory Alternative Considered

    In developing this rule, the Coast Guard considered the following 
alternative to this rule: Continuing to allow the extended period for 
recent sea service as provided in CG-CVC Policy Letter 15-03. We 
rejected this alternative. In enacting Section 305 of the Howard Coble 
Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014, Congress expressly 
authorized the Secretary to extend the period for recent sea service 
from 3 years to 7 years for individuals whose sea service was aboard 
vessels of the uniformed services. Accordingly, the Coast Guard is 
taking action, through rulemaking, to make the regulatory language 
consistent with the Secretary's authority provided in 46 U.S.C. 
7101(j)(1).
    There are no other feasible alternatives that would be consistent 
with the policy goals of this rule. The existing regulatory language in 
46 CFR 11.201(c)(2) requires qualifying sea service to be attained 
within a 3-year period preceding the date of application for all 
applicants.

B. Small Entities

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 601-612, we 
have considered whether this rule will have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. The term ``small 
entities'' comprises small businesses, not-for-profit organizations 
that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their 
fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 
50,000. The rule affects individuals and not companies who employ these 
individuals. The RFA does not consider individuals to be small 
entities. Additionally, this rule does not impose any costs on non-
Federal entities. Therefore, the Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 
605(b) that this final rule will not have a significant economic impact 
on a substantial number of small entities.

C. Assistance for Small Entities

    Under section 213(a) of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement 
Fairness Act of 1996, Public Law 104-121, we offer to assist small 
entities in understanding this rule so that they can better evaluate 
its effects on them and participate in the rulemaking. The Coast Guard 
will not retaliate against small entities that question or complain 
about this rule or any policy or action of the Coast Guard.
    Small businesses may send comments on the actions of Federal 
employees who enforce, or otherwise determine compliance with, Federal 
regulations to the Small Business and Agriculture Regulatory 
Enforcement Ombudsman and the Regional Small Business Regulatory 
Fairness Boards. The Ombudsman evaluates these actions annually and 
rates each agency's responsiveness to small business. If you wish to 
comment on actions by employees of the Coast Guard, call 1-888-REG-FAIR 
(1-888-734-3247).

D. Collection of Information

    This rule calls for no new collection of information under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 44 U.S.C. 3501-3520. As defined in 5 
CFR 1320.3(c), ``collection of information'' comprises reporting, 
recordkeeping, monitoring, posting, labeling, and other similar 
actions. Because the data indicates that this rule will not result in 
an increase in the number of applicants, it will not add respondents 
for recording and recordkeeping to the existing collection (OMB Control 
Number 1625-0040), ``Application for Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC), 
Application for Merchant Mariner Medical Certificate, Application for 
Merchant Mariner Medical Certificate for Entry Level Ratings, Small 
Vessel Sea Service Form, DOT/USCG Periodic Drug Testing Form, 
Disclosure Statement for Narcotics, DWI/DUI, and/or Other Convictions, 
Merchant Mariner Medical Certificate, Recognition of Foreign 
Certificate.''

E. Federalism

    A rule has implications for federalism under Executive Order 13132 
(Federalism) if it has a substantial direct effect on States, on the 
relationship between the national government and the States, or on the 
distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of 
government. We have analyzed this final rule under Executive Order 
13132 and have determined that it is consistent with the fundamental 
federalism principles and preemption requirements as described in 
Executive Order 13132. Our analysis follows.
    It is well settled that States may not regulate in categories 
reserved for regulation by the Coast Guard. It is also well settled 
that the subject matter in 46 U.S.C. 7101 concerning the issuance and 
classification of merchant marine officer credentials by the United 
States Coast Guard is to be given pre-emptive effect over any 
conflicting state laws. See, e.g., United States v. Locke, 529 U.S. 89 
(2000) (finding that the states are foreclosed from regulating tanker 
vessels) see also Ray v. Atlantic Richfield Co., 435 U.S. 151, 157 
(1978) (state regulation is preempted where ``the scheme of federal 
regulation may be so pervasive as to make reasonable the inference that 
Congress left no room for the States to supplement it [or where] the 
Act of Congress may touch a field in which the federal interest is so 
dominant that the federal system will be assumed to preclude 
enforcement of state laws on the same subject.'' (citations omitted)). 
Because this final rule involves the credentialing of mariners under 46 
U.S.C. 7101, it relates to personnel qualifications for vessels subject 
to a pervasive scheme of federal regulation and is therefore foreclosed 
from regulation by the States. Because the States may not regulate 
within this category, this final rule is consistent with the 
fundamental federalism principles and preemption requirements in 
Executive Order 13132.

F. Unfunded Mandates

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. 1531-1538, 
requires Federal agencies to assess the effects of their discretionary 
regulatory actions. In particular, the Act addresses actions that may 
result in the expenditure by a State, local, or tribal government, in 
the aggregate, or by the private sector of $100,000,000 (adjusted for 
inflation) or more in any one year. Although this rule will not result 
in such expenditure, we do discuss the effects of this rule elsewhere 
in this preamble.

G. Taking of Private Property

    This rule will not cause a taking of private property or otherwise 
have taking implications under Executive Order 12630 (Governmental 
Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected Property 
Rights).

[[Page 57765]]

H. Civil Justice Reform

    This rule meets applicable standards in sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) 
of Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform) to minimize litigation, 
eliminate ambiguity, and reduce burden.

I. Protection of Children

    We have analyzed this rule under Executive Order 13045 (Protection 
of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks). This 
rule is not an economically significant rule and will not create an 
environmental risk to health or risk to safety that might 
disproportionately affect children.

J. Indian Tribal Governments

    This rule does not have tribal implications under Executive Order 
13175 (Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments), 
because it will not have a substantial direct effect on one or more 
Indian tribes, on the relationship between the Federal Government and 
Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities 
between the Federal Government and Indian tribes.

K. Energy Effects

    We have analyzed this rule under Executive Order 13211 (Actions 
Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, 
Distribution, or Use). We have determined that it is not a 
``significant energy action'' under that order because it is not a 
``significant regulatory action'' under Executive Order 12866 and is 
not likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, 
distribution, or use of energy. We have determined that it is not a 
``significant energy action'' under Executive Order 13211, because 
although it is a ``significant regulatory action'' under Executive 
Order 12866, it is not likely to have a significant adverse effect on 
the supply, distribution, or use of energy, and the Administrator of 
OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has not designated 
it as a significant energy action.

L. Technical Standards and Incorporation by Reference

    The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act, codified as a 
note to 15 U.S.C. 272, directs agencies to use voluntary consensus 
standards in their regulatory activities unless the agency provides 
Congress, through OMB, with an explanation of why using these standards 
would be inconsistent with applicable law or otherwise impractical. 
Voluntary consensus standards are technical standards (e.g., 
specifications of materials, performance, design, or operation; test 
methods; sampling procedures; and related management systems practices) 
that are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies.
    This rule does not use technical standards. Therefore, we did not 
consider the use of voluntary consensus standards.

M. Environment

    We have analyzed this rule under Department of Homeland Security 
Management Directive 023-01, Rev. 1, associated implementing 
instructions, and Environmental Planning COMDTINST 5090.1 (series), 
which guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have made 
a determination that this action is one of a category of actions that 
do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the 
human environment. A Record of Environmental Consideration supporting 
this determination is available in the docket. For instructions on 
locating the docket, see the ADDRESSES section of this preamble. This 
rule is categorically excluded under paragraph L56 of Appendix A, Table 
1 of DHS Instruction Manual 023-01-001-01, Rev. 01. Paragraph L56 
pertains to the training, qualifying, licensing, and disciplining of 
maritime personnel. This rule involves amending the period within which 
qualifying sea service aboard vessels of the uniformed services can be 
used to satisfy the requirement for recent sea service to qualify for a 
Merchant Mariner Credential with a national officer endorsement.

List of Subjects in 46 CFR Part 11

    Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Schools, 
Seamen.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard amends 
46 CFR part 11 as follows:

PART 11--REQUIREMENTS FOR OFFICER ENDORSEMENTS

0
1. The authority citation for part 11 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 14 U.S.C. 503; 31 U.S.C. 9701; 46 U.S.C. 2101, 2103, 
and 2110; 46 U.S.C. chapter 71; 46 U.S.C. 7502, 7505, 7701, 8906, 
and 70105; Executive Order 10173; Department of Homeland Security 
Delegation No. 0170.1. Section 11.107 is also issued under the 
authority of 44 U.S.C. 3507.


0
2. Amend Sec.  11.201 by redesignating paragraph (c)(1) through (c)(6) 
as paragraph (c) introductory text through (c)(5) and revising newly 
redesignated (c)(1) to read as follows;


Sec.  11.201   General requirements for national and STCW officer 
endorsements.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (1) An applicant for a national officer endorsement must meet one 
of the following:
    (i) Have at least 3 months of required service on vessels of 
appropriate tonnage or horsepower within the 3 years immediately 
preceding the date of application; or
    (ii) Have at least 3 months of required service on vessels of the 
uniformed services as defined in 10 U.S.C. 101(a)(5) of appropriate 
tonnage or horsepower within the 7 years immediately preceding the date 
of application; or
    (iii) Have at least 3 months of required service attained through a 
combination of service established under paragraphs (c)(1)(i) or (ii) 
of this section.
* * * * *

    Dated: August 12, 2020.
R.V. Timme,
Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Assistant Commandant for Prevention 
Policy.
[FR Doc. 2020-18298 Filed 9-15-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 9110-04-P