Coronavirus (COVID-19)

MSIB: Novel Coronavirus – Mariner Credentials – Update (Change 3)

Rear Admiral R. V. Timme,
U.S. Coast Guard Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy

The Coast Guard continues to evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 impact to the maritime industry and mariners in order to take action needed to ensure the continuity of the Maritime Transportation System (MTS). 

In this light, the Coast Guard has posted Change 3 to MSIB 08-20, titled COVID-19 – Mariner Credentials that updates information on the extensions to merchant mariner credential, medical certificates and course approvals

The following significant changes provided in Change 3 to MSIB 08-20:

  • Merchant mariner credentials, both national and STCW, that expire between March 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020 are extended to March 31, 2021.
  • The Coast Guard is accepting shipboard experience in lieu of refresher training in survival craft and rescue boats other than fast rescue boats (PSC), PSC-limited, fast rescue boats (FRB), basic training (BT), and advanced firefighting (AFF) for mariners who are renewing MMCs that expire between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.  Shipboard experience in fire, emergency, and/or abandon ship drills is accepted as demonstrating continued competence in these areas provided the mariner has obtained at least 360 days of relevant service within the past five years.
  • Approvals for temporary alternate training delivery methods are extended to align with the existing course approval expiration date, including any extensions that were previously granted by this MSIB.  

I encourage all mariners, ship owners and operators and providers of Coast Guard approved training to read MSIB 08-20, Change 3 carefully.  While the Coast Guard has provided the extensions noted in the MSIB, mariners and training providers are strongly encouraged to fulfill the requirements and submit applications as early as possible in order to avoid a lapse in their credential or training approval.  Similarly, training providers need to make every effort to submit their application early to avoid expiration of their current approval.

If you have questions, please contact the National Maritime Center by using the NMC’s online chat system available at, by emailing, or by calling 1-888-IASKNMC (472-5662).

The Coast Guard will continue to monitoring the impact of the pandemic and will make the necessary adjustments to ensure the continuity of maritime transportation within the MTS.

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