Author: Capt. Kelly Sweeney E:captsweeney@professionalmariner.com

To avoid problems in renewing your mariner credentials, plan ahead

You open up the envelope from the National Maritime Center (NMC) expectantly, and see your new passport-style Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) inside. Now it’s time for a bit of celebrating. While you’re enjoying some pizza and few cold ones with…

One man's experience with Coast Guard's new medical rules

In 2003 the 310-foot, 6,000-passenger capacity Staten Island Ferry Andrew J. Barberi crashed into a pier at full speed, killing 11 passengers. As the National Transportation Safety Board investigation of the incident moved forward, the medical fitness of the captain…

Mobile offshore drilling units in Gulf should be U.S.-flagged

The night of April 20, two explosions on the Marshall Islands-registered Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU) Deepwater Horizon killed 11 men, and began the incident that would become the worst marine oil spill in United States history. As the weeks…

Essential tools of the trade: a good hat and sun block

It was a hot May afternoon on the 12-to-4 watch, as the old boatswain and I unbolted the blank flanges sealing the cargo headers we’d be using to discharge gasoline to the CITGO Terminal in Tampa, Fla. He was a…

Shut down unrestricted public Internet access to AIS data

My wife and I were walking along a bluff trail overlooking Washington’s Puget Sound last month with some friends. As we sat there taking a break enjoying some hot coffee from our thermos, an inbound cargo ship passed by. Al…

In pirate zone, an unarmed ship is an unseaworthy ship

In April 2009, the news that the U.S.-flag containership Maersk Alabama had been attacked by pirates in the Indian Ocean spread across radio, television and print news outlets worldwide. That morning, a few hours before the media got hold of…

Time for mariners to make their New Year’s resolutions

Almost every mariner I talk with has an opinion about the recent U.S. Coast Guard Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 04-08, which established physical and medical standards not seen in our industry before. The NVIC details over 201 conditions…

Keeping both GPS and sextant onboard is advisable

I was sailing as the chief mate on an oceanographic ship working in the Adriatic Sea between Italy and Croatia. It was the evening 4-8 watch, a clear night with little ship traffic as we were following a grid of…

Keeping the loyalty of seasonal mariners

Several years ago I was on vacation from my regular job on an oil tanker and had the summer off. One morning over coffee my wife and I were discussing how we could use extra cash for some home projects,…

When applying for your TWIC, consider bringing cookies

When I read 46 CFR 10.113, “Failure to obtain or hold a valid TWIC may serve as a basis for suspension or revocation of a mariner’s license or STCW endorsement,” I immediately decided to apply for my Transportation Worker Identification…

Flaws in TWIC rollout could hurt mariners and the entire industry

  After years of delays, the rules for obtaining a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) were finally established by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Transportation Safety Administration in 2007. Nationally, as of Sept. 25, 2008, the TWIC card will…

Smoking rules can be a hot subject

There are many more rules and regulations we mariners have to follow today than when I began sailing in the early 1980s. Sometimes they come from the Coast Guard or other government agency, other times the company. Though we know…