Coast Guard Releases Flag State Annual Report

The U.S. Coast Guard has released its Flag State Control 2021 Domestic Annual Report, which provides statistics on the status of fleet inspections, deficiencies, and detentions for the entire U.S.-flagged merchant fleet, both blue-water and brown-water. The report collates data from the Coast Guard’s Marine Information Safety and Law Enforcement (MISLE) database regarding vessel population, inspections conducted, and deficiencies issued for the 2021 calendar year.

In 2021, the U.S.-flagged merchant fleet contained 18,967 vessels subject to inspection, with Coast Guard marine inspectors conducting 19,474 inspections. The overall U.S.-flagged fleet inspection total increased in 2021 by 6 percent. The number of deficiencies issued increased by more than 15 percent from the 2020 calendar year report.

Rear Adm. John Mauger, assistant commandant for prevention policy, noted in the report’s introduction that in 2021, Coast Guard marine inspectors responded to increased demand, identifying 31,200 deficiencies during 19,474 inspections on all U.S. flagged vessels, blue- and brown-water. In comparison to last year, the number of vessel inspections increased by 1,060 and the average number of deficiencies identified per inspection increased from 1.47 to 2.47.

The report classifies barges and towing vessels separately. Towing vessels accounted for 17.13 percent of inspections and 18.82 percent of deficiencies. Towing vessels and barges had the lowest deficiency rate per vessel of all vessel types, at 0.94 and 0.30, respectively.

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The report notes that 1,146 towing vessels, comprising 18.3 percent of the towing vessel fleet, were involved in a reportable marine casualty in 2021. The top three casualty types for towing vessels were collision, allision, or grounding (39.9 percent), material failure/malfunction (22.6 percent) and loss/reduction of propulsion/steering (14.1 percent).

Thirty-five towing vessels were detained in 2021, comprising the majority of Flag State detentions. However, as the American Waterways Operators pointed out in a newsletter notice, the detention rate for towing vessels and barges was very low, at 0.56 percent and 0.04 percent, respectively.

The Coast Guard produces a more detailed safety report on the brown-water fleet called the Coast Guard AWO Safety Partnership Annual Safety Report.

The full report is available at