The World’s Youngest Master Mariner

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September 6, 2009

We have received many great article submissions in gCaptain’s YOUblog section, the place where mariners get a chance to blog, but few posts have received the quick acclaim of this “news” article by first time participant Humorist. Enjoy…

In 2000 the Washington Tribune first broke the story of pets receiving credit cards. “Frustrated with an endless stream of solicitations” the newspaper tells us “Bob Jones angrily filled out an application for his dog Brandy, a toy poodle, and was shocked to find a shiny new Mastercard in his mailbox two weeks later”.

Captain Benjamin Dover, clearly remembers the article despite being only 6 years old at the time. “If a dog could get a card then so could I” he recalls. And he did. By the age of ten he had used the card to buy a Boston Whaler, by 12 he had financed a 100 ton fishing boat and soon accumulated enough seatime to sit for a Coast Guard 100 Ton Master’s license.

While Ben had experience with convoluted forms, from his dealings with Mastercard, the application for a Coast Guard license was significantly more complex. “I got most of the boxes filled-out ok and was able to do everything by mail, which I liked because I look young for my age.” says young Ben. “I did have trouble with the box titled ‘desired rank’ but my mom always says I have ‘Unlimited’ potential so that’s what I wrote down.”

NMC Chief, Captain Dumass USCG, says that’s where the initial mistake was made. In an official statement he writes “An insidious compilation of events led to the misevaluation of Mr. Master’s application and subsequent misguidance by NMC staff the complexity of which is still being evaluated.”

Further Web 2.0 based investigation by gCaptain reporters unravels the larger mystery. On a facebook tweet the evaluator handling Mr. Dover’s application admits “Well it was a application for Master and he wrote ‘Unlimited’, the mistake was clearly his.” In a later tweet he continues, “Mr. Dover had no medical issues, no background check issues, never failed a coast guard exam or missed an alimony check. Based on my findings he was the perfect candidate.”

But there is still the issue of him never submitting a seatime letters. An NMC employee that wishes to remain anonymous tells gCaptain “Lots of records got lost in the move to West Virginia and all the guys with experience have left out of frustration. Anyone who tells you this operation is running smooth needs a colonic.”

While heads are rolling at the Coast Guard, Ben and his family couldn’t be happier. When asked his future plans Ben told us “Many of those guys working on drillships have never been more than 100 miles out to sea. Some, like me, haven’t yet graduate high school. So I rigged my GPS up to a trawling motor and wrote DP experience on my application to (xx drilling company). Luckily HR didn’t really know what DP was so they hired me on the spot.”

It seems the future is bright for Captain Benjamin. In a final stroke of luck he asked the Coast Guard if his license might be taken away, considering the clerical error. The CG’s answer was promising; “No son, it’s our firm policy never to revoke a license that was issued due to a mistake by the NMC, otherwise who would be left to drive the ships? Just don’t kill any birds in California and you’ll be ok.”

When asked if he had any regrets Ben gave us these final words “I should have been more persistent. It’s great being a Captain at 16 and all but if the NMC hadn’t taken so long processing the darn thing I could have been a Captain at 14. Now that would have been really cool!”

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