top of page

Merchant Mariner Credential
Suspension and Revocation Defense

A Merchant Mariner Credential Suspension & Revocation proceeding, commonly referred to as a S&R proceeding, occurs when the United States Coast Guard initiates an action to either suspend or revoke a mariner’s Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC).  

A mariner’s Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) can be suspended or revoked for various reasons including actions that may have occurred while a mariner was ashore or home on leave. Some examples of why the USCG may initiate a S&R proceeding against a mariner’s MMC include:

  • Violations of marine safety regulations.

  • Incompetence, negligence or misconduct while sailing on your MMC.

  • Violation of certain motor vehicle laws, such as operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

  • Testing positive for drugs.

  • A criminal charge or conviction.


A S&R proceeding is an administrative proceeding. It is similar to a civil trial but the distinction is the case is heard and decided by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), as opposed to a jury of your peers. The action begins when a USCG Investigating Officer files a complaint and serves it on the mariner. The complaint outlines the charges against the mariner; the reasons the USCG has initiated an action and whether the USCG seeks suspension or revocation. The mariner then has 20 days to respond to the complaint. If the mariner fails to file an answer within the 20 days their MMC may be suspended and or revoked and the right to a hearing waived.

When the proceeding gets underway the USCG assigns an ALJ out of one of their field offices in either Alameda, Baltimore, Galveston, New Orleans, New York and Seattle. In most cases an experienced maritime attorney can get the charges dismissed by coming to a settlement agreement with the ALJ. An example of common settlement agreements (depending on the charges) could be the mariner agrees to take refresher classes before sailing on his or her license again.

Fishing Vessels - Maritime Lawyer

If a settlement agreement cannot be reached then the proceeding will go to a hearing where the mariner will get an opportunity to present evidence and proffer witness testimony to fight the charges. In this instance it is paramount for a mariner to have an experienced maritime attorney as the hearing is governed by specific evidentiary rules. A hearing may last anywhere from 1 day to a week depending on the charges.


At the end of the hearing the ALJ will either render a decision.  If the ALJ finds that the USCG has proved its case, an order is given imposing the appropriate sanction, such as a suspension or revocation of the mariner’s MMC or admonition.  If the ALJ finds that the Coast Guard did not prove its case, the charges are dismissed.

If you have received notice that the USCG intends to file a Suspension and Revocation (S&R) Action against your Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) it would be prudent of you to call an experienced maritime attorney. Your MMC is your ticket to employment, it allows you to provide for your family. It took you years of seatime and education to obtain; you do not want to have it revoked or suspended.


Call an experienced maritime attorney at Leeward Law for a free consultation. Leeward Law will aggressively defend your MMC from suspension or revocation. Leeward Law  is here to help you.

bottom of page