Administrative Clemency: The Mariner’s Last, Last Chance

Chapter Five of the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Manual contains a discussion about a little-know procedure called Administrative Clemency. The procedure is also identified in 46 CFR Part 5. The remedy is available only to mariners who have either had their license revoked, or who have voluntarily surrendered it. In brief review, the process requires: (1) a complete proof “cure” of the causes underlying the revocation (whether drug-related, or otherwise; and if drug related, to include the random drug test results, AA/NA proof of attendance and the MRO’s letter stating the mariner is cleared to return to sea with minimal risk to the public); (2) A complete and signed application for an initial license; (3) A letter from the applicant stating how the original problem has been cured, how he or she intends to avoid the problem in the future; (4) Details of employment history since the surrender or revocation; (5) FBI criminal background check initiated by the mariner and addressed to the IO in a sealed envelope; (6) Driving record from the mariner’s state or states; (7) Letters from employers; (8) Letters of reference; and, if the application is made prior to the three-year waiting period (9) A Motion for waiver of the three year waiting period. The mariner’s papers must be filed together in one package, and not piecemeal. There is a check list and instructions for the preparation and assembly of these materials at page C5-14 of the Marine Safety Manual.

In addition to the above, if less than three years have elapsed since the revocation or surrender, the mariner must also include a motion to re-open the case with the Coast Guard Docketing Center, which will then forward the papers to an ALJ. Naturally, the Coast Guard will have a chance either to assent, or to oppose the mariner’s motion for administrative clemency. If more than three years have elapsed, the application, and the package of papers, must be sent to the Commandant. See, generally, 46 USC 7701 (c); 46 CFR sec. 5.901 through 5.905; and U.S. Coast Guard MARINE SAFETY MANUAL, ch. 5. If the application is successful, the Coast Guard will count all of the mariner’s time in grade, and will therefore re-issue mariner’s license in the same grade as when it was revoked or surrendered.