About MSC

Medical Standards Information


Supporting Military Sealift Command’s mission requires civil service mariners to work aboard ship and far from land-based medical care for extended periods of time.  For this reason mariners must be medically qualified for shipboard assignment.   While some conditions are clearly disqualifying, many can be considered acceptable if shown to be sufficiently controlled to not be a risk to the individual or the mission.  The medical standards are published in COMSC Instruction 6000.1D (Chapter 5), NAVMED P-117   (Manual of the Medical Department), and USCG NVIC 04-08.

General Information:

  1. Mariners requiring prescription medication must have a minimum six-month supply of the medication to sail.
  2. Chronic condition (i.e. hypertension, diabetes, thyroid disorders, cholesterol disorders, cancer, etc) requiring follow-up medical evaluations more frequently than every 6 months can cause a mariner to be classified not fit for duty.
  3. A mariner applicant deemed not fit for duty by Military Sealift Command’s medical department will be notified by letter. The mariner is responsible to make the necessary appointment(s) to obtain the requested evaluations, have his/her health care provider complete the provided medical summary form and fax all completed documents to MSC Medical at (757) 443-5706/5767.

Guidance regarding specific medical conditions:

  1. Hearing
    • Per Navy and USCG standards there are minimum permissible limits for hearing loss.  A significant hearing loss noted on exam will require an audiologist or ear, nose and throat specialist evaluation for specialized testing to determine the threshold for speech recognition and recommendations on hearing protection.  A waiver may be considered on a case-by-case basis depending on the outcome of the specialized testing.
  2. Vision
    • For master, mate, or watchstander visual acuity must be correctable to 20/40 or better in each eye.  For engineers, radio officers, non-watchstanders, and all others visual acuity must be correctable to 20/50 or better in each eye.  For mariners with single eye vision, vision must be correctable to 20/30 or better and will require an ophthalmology evaluation to assess the impact on depth perception and peripheral vision as they relate to safely operating vehicles and machinery.   A waiver may be recommended on a case-by-case basis.   Abnormal color perception will require an ophthalmology evaluation to fully describe the deficit.  No waivers are granted on color vision for masters, mates, or watchstanders.  Engineers may be waived if they can demonstrate the ability to reliably distinguish basic colors.
  3. Tuberculin skin test (TST) status
    • For initial hire consideration, applicants must provide the result of a TST obtained within the past 12 months unless they have had a documented positive test in the past.  A TST can be obtained at most local public health departments or from personal physicians.  Those with a current or past positive test must provide health care provider documentation of evaluation for active TB and whether the appropriate course of medication has been completed in the past, has been initiated, or is medically contraindicated.  If prophylaxis medication is required, follow-up evaluation to include liver function tests will be required 1-2 months after starting the medication prior to being cleared by MSC Medical to sail.
  4. Diabetes
    • Any elevated fasting blood glucose level on a new applicant exam will require a follow-up evaluation to include an HbA1C test. The minimum acceptable HbA1C level is 8.0% or less.  Diabetes requiring insulin for control cannot be considered for waiver.
  5. Hypertension
    • A blood pressure of <140/90 is considered acceptable with or without appropriate medications.
  6. Hyperlipidemia
    • An elevated cholesterol level requires evaluation/documentation provided by the treating physician.
  7. Psychiatric history
    • Any psychiatric diagnosis or treatment history requires complete documentation from a mental health professional to include history of treatment, hospitalizations, current status, stability, prognosis, risk to self or others, current medications, and determination that follow-up is needed no more frequently than every six months.  If applying for a rating requiring the use of small arms, a specific statement from a psychiatrist as to the suitability for small arms duties will be required.
  8. Other Conditions
    • Abnormalities on examination with potential impact on mission or risk to individuals on prolonged sea voyages will warrant appropriate evaluation.  The conditions requiring evaluation and recommended type of specialist will be indicated on a medical summary form provided to the applicant.
    • MSC requires measles, mumps and rubella (for those born after 1957) and polio vaccination documentation from all applicants.  If documentation cannot be located a blood titer may be required to evaluate level of immunity.
    • An applicant who has a VA disability rating will be required to provide a copy of the rating to include the name of each condition and the percentage of disability rated for each condition.

Any questions or need for clarification should be directed to the CIVMAR Support Center at 1-866-562-7672.