Today is the day, no I don’t mean tax day, as that is nothing new; but rather it is the day that the US Coast Guard starts issuing the Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC). The MMC looks almost exactly like a passport on the outside, except that it is a unique color and doesn’t have the word “passport” on it. Inside are pages, with artwork reminiscent of the license. The MMC will have pages giving the same verbiage as the License, Certificate of Registry, STCW and/or Merchant Mariner document. Essentially people with multiple credentials will now have a single booklet instead of several pieces of paper. To add endorsements, the USCG will now send stickers to adhere into the booklet instead of requiring the booklet to be sent to them.
I am not a fan of this new credential. While it will certainly be easier to manage, I also believe it will be easier to manipulate by those who wish to add greater endorsements to their MMC. Once the MMC is issued, I think that it will not be too difficult to create stickers that can be attached to the book that gives ratings in excess of the current credential. Given that people will not start looking closely at the inside pages, and will probably just scan the document, it worries me that there is an opportunity for fraud.
I am just glad that I was able to get one of the last paper licenses issued, although I do feel saddened that I was unable to get my chief engineer’s license in the same form. It will be a funny thing to see in the next few years as 8x11 inch licenses hanging on the wall of the ship (a legal requirement) will slowly be replaced by a photocopy of a document much smaller and much less impressive looking.