Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: New Orleans
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the TWIC card--your TSA at work...
Okay, this may be of marginal concern to those not at all related to the commercial maritime industry, but to anyone who holds a 6-pack license though Oceans Master, or anyone who has to get to a commercial dock, facility, or refinery:
You have to get a "Transport Worker Identification Credential" (thank the 9/11 terrorists once again for this) if you hope to set foot on a dock, waterfront facility, ship, or even your own small 6-passenger charter vessel, before whatever date your local Coast Guard Captain of the Port has set, without waiting for an "escort" (ha, ha--try waiting for one) to take you to wherever you needed to go.
Okay, fair enough, but the application process seems designed to burn the maximum amount of time possible in order to get the card. It takes about a half-day to figure out the web site and apply, another half-day to go to wherever is the closest TSA office (God help you if you're not close to a seaport), then another half-day to wait in line to be fingerprinted and photoed, then after another 7 weeks (?) they tell you the card is ready. Then, you go back to their office and wait in line with the other applicants to get your card "acitivated" so you can finally walk out with it. None of this can be done by mail, and the fact that you already have a license, with fingerprint, or military ID, means nothing.
Figure on one and a half days of lost productivity for every maritime/waterfront worker who has to apply.
I sure hope it's worth it, because it sure is a PITA to apply, and get one, in case you ever need it. And at the rate they're going, they're never going to make it when the last-minute rush of applications come before the effective date, and it takes two months (and by then, maybe more) to get one from the application date. If you're a longshoreman who had some kind of record when you were younger and before you straightened out, add a couple more months to this timeline (this is why stevodoring companies hate this program).
End of rant. Those of you who have had to renew captain's, mate's, or engineer's licences will understand, just multiply your frustration by a factor of two or three. I hope this actually helps in stopping, or deterring, maritime terrorism, but at this point it just seems like another hoop to jump through.
Aaaah. Now I feel better....