Hurricane Katrina forced the closure of Regional Examination Center (REC) New Orleans for an as yet, undetermined duration. The Coast Guard is expanding its services in Memphis to restore services to merchant mariners in need of credentials.
Due to space limitations, a temporary facility will be opened up that will be staffed by employees from REC New Orleans. The space has been identified, and office equipment and computers are already in place. Employees are being directed to report to their temporary location in Memphis and this secondary facility should be open for full service no later than 30 September. Operating hours will be the same as those currently in place at REC Memphis. These operating hours and contact information will be published in a future press release.
The Coast Guard is also opening a limited-service facility in Morgan City, La. This facility, co-located with the existing Marine Safety Unit, will be able to provide fingerprinting and identification services. It will reduce the burden on mariners by eliminating the need for many mariners to travel to a full-service REC. Mariners may file completed applications at this unit; however, the applications will be forwarded for processing to the expanded REC in Memphis. The Morgan City facility is expected to open on Friday, September 23. Operating hours and contact information will be published in a future press release.
Existing RECs in Houston, Charleston, S.C., and Miami are being augmented with additional staff to assist applicants who would normally apply to REC New Orleans. Mariners may elect to send applications to these or any of the other RECs throughout the United States.
Coast Guard officials emphasize that these arrangements are only temporary and are designed to restore services to mariners in the timeliest fashion possible. When the infrastructure in the devastated area of New Orleans is restored and the city is deemed safe, the Coast Guard will again re-open an REC in or within the vicinity of New Orleans to provide quick, convenient services to Gulf Coast mariners