In 2020, the Coast Guard began making broadcast notices to mariners containing locally relevant information accessible by mobile devices and the internet. Previously, the only way to obtain this information in a timely fashion was to tune in to local Coast Guard broadcasts that take place on very high frequency (VHF) marine radio two or more times per day. The new methods of information delivery have included Rich Site Summary, also known as Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds, email, and other means such as map-based filtering. The Coast Guard has received public feedback indicating that mariners prefer the real-time accessibility of mobile and internet access to this information over scheduled VHF broadcasts, because access is more timely, reliable, convenient, and customizable. Also, some mariners have reported that VHF broadcast notice to mariners are bothersome, because they are perceived as unnecessary radio clutter that can be distracting when maneuvering along a dock, in ports or other areas of congested traffic. The Coast Guard is considering phasing out the process of distributing this information by routine VHF radio broadcasts, and is seeking public comment.
The Coast Guard’s Towing Vessel National Center of Expertise (TVNCOE) has made updates to TugSafe Central, regarding the Bridge to Bridge Act’s radiotelephone inspection and certificate guidance. This update is in the FCC sub-section under the Credentials, Documents and Reports and helps clarify applicability requirements as well as providing additional details.
TVIB VIDEO MESSAGE: COI Enforcement Status As Of July 19, 2021
46 CFR 136.202(a)(3) (paraphrased) requires that all owners or managing operators must ensure that at least 75% of their towing vessels must have a valid COI on board by July 19, 2021.
For those needing to submit applications (CG-3752) or schedule Coast Guard inspections in order to obtain a COI, §136.210 (paraphrased) requires the following of owners and managing operators:
Schedule an inspection for the initial certification with the cognizant OCMI at least 3 months before the vessel is to undergo the inspection for certification
Deadline for scheduling inspection was April 19, 2021, to have met the July deadline for 75% compliance
Submit a CG-3752 Application for Inspection of U.S. Vessel to the cognizant OCMI where the inspection will take place at least 30 days before the vessel will undergo inspection
Deadline for submitting CG-3752 was June 19, 2021, to have met the July deadline for 75% compliance
CG-835Vs Issued for Phase-In Non-Compliance Immediately
CG-CVC Policy letter 20-01, dated 2/20/2020, indicates that those owner/managing operators that fail to meet the 75% requirement by July 19, 2021, will be receiving 835’s for the remaining portion of the fleet to equal 75%. The Coast Guard will be using listed owner data from a vessel’s COD as the primary source for establishing compliance and making contact with the owner. They will issue the 835s to the vessels with the oldest to newest build dates. According to the policy letter these 835’s will:
Be considered as administrative in nature and will indicate the owner/managing operator’s failure to meet the requirements of 46 CFR 136.202(a);
Be visible on the outward facing side of the Coast Guard’s PSIX data base; and
Require the owner/managing operator to make the vessel available for inspection within 90 days, failure to do so will result in a deficiency code of 60 which must be rectified prior to movement
TVIB has discussed its concerns about using COD owner information as the only source of data with various OCMIs, TVNCOE and CVC-4, as recently as this week. We have offered to share our fleet data with them in hopes of reducing the administrative burden of issuing 835V’s to owner/managing operators that are actually at or above the 75% requirement. In the event an 835 is issued to an owner/managing operator that is in fact at or above the 75% requirement and objective evidence is presented indicating same, then the 835 will be closed with no further action.
Laid Up / Out of Service Vessels Affecting Fleet COI Percentages
Besides ownership issues such as those of an LLC or a financial institution that could skew a fleet size there is another consideration for companies with vessels they consider to be out of service. If an operator owns a vessel that they consider out of service or on “port risk” but have taken no official action with the Coast Guard to remove the vessel from service, those vessels will count towards a total fleet size and will be included in the 75% requirement. A vessel is not required to have a COI in order to be placed into “laid up status” (reference CVC-WI-018(1)) which will reduce an operator’s fleet size. However, if a vessel is placed into “laid up status” it will be required to obtain a COI before entering back into service.