Merchant Marine Appeal Process

​​​Appeal to the NTSB is available upon the action of the Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard, sustaining the order of an administrative law judge that revoked, suspended, or denied a marine license or certificate.

​​The issues that may be considered are (49 CFR § 825.15):

  • ​Material fact in error;
  • Necessary legal conclusion is without precedent or departure from/contrary to law;
  • Substantial/important question of law;
  • Prejudicial procedural error.


  • Notice of appeal is due to Board within 10 days after service of Commandant's decision (49 CFR § 825.5)
    • Upon notice of appeal, Commandant transmits record of hearing to Board (49 CFR § 825.10)​​
  • File brief in support of appeal within 20 days after filing notice of appeal (49 CFR § 825.20)
  • Party may request oral argument before the Board (49 CFR § 825.25)
  • Board reviews Commandant's decision for reversible error (49 CFR § 825.30)
    • If no reversible error: Affirm decision
    • If reversible error, the Board may;
      • If error is incurable: Set aside the entire decision & dismiss charges
      • If error is curable: Set aside order, conclusions or findings & remand to Commandant for further consideration
    • Remand (49 CFR 825.35):
      • Commandant may act on remand or remand to original or another administrative law judge
      • During remand a party retains all rights of review of 46 CFR Part 5 & 49 CFR 825, as applicable

Communications between parties and Board employees

    During the course of the case (beginning with the notice of hearing), ex parte communications (oral/written communications not on public record) relating to merits of case are restricted. See 49 CFR 825.40.