Washington Waves
Washington Waves

Coast Guard Issues MSIB On Reporting Sexual Misconduct

Washington, D.C.—The Coast Guard has issued Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) 1-23 on reporting sexual misconduct on U.S. flagged vessels and repeated its commitment to enforcing significant changes in the law against such crimes.

With updates designed to enhance mariner safety, the MSIB explained, the law now requires the responsible entity of a vessel, defined as the owner, master or managing operator, to report complaints or incidents of harassment, sexual harassment or sexual assault to the Coast Guard.

Citing those changes in the law, the head of the Coast Guard’s Investigative Service (CGIS) stated his unit is ready to investigate sexual misconduct and build confidence within the maritime industry.

“Make no mistake, sexual assault is a crime,” CGIS Director Jeremy Gauthier said.

“Everyone has a right to work in an environment free from fear and harassment. A mariner’s physical and mental well-being are essential to the safe operation of commercial vessels at sea.”

Reports, which can be anonymous, may be delivered by a GCIS Tips App, calling the National Command Center’s 24-hour watch at 202-372-2100 or emailing CGISTIPS@uscg.mil.

“CGIS will leverage all available resources to immediately initiate a criminal investigation for a sexual crime occurring on a U.S.-flagged vessel anywhere in the world,” the MSIB stated. “The Coast Guard will respond to any reports of sexual misconduct with trained investigators and will hold offenders accountable through criminal prosecution and/or actions against U.S. Coast Guard-issued merchant mariner credentials.”

Debt Limit

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected the government will exhaust its ability to borrow sometime between July and September if the debt limit remains unchanged.

Actually, the CBO’s projection is something of a reprieve.

In a letter to congressional leaders last month, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said it was unlikely the cash and so-called extraordinary measures used to borrow additional funds would be exhausted before early June.

The CBO’s projection, however, seemed to offer little if any relief.

That may because no signs of significant progress have come from President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on the matter.

Biden says he will lay out his approach March 9 when he releases his administration’s budget and challenges McCarthy to do the same with the Republican approach.

Maritime Security Committee

The National Maritime Security Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet virtually March 21 to discuss matters relating to national maritime security, including enhancing the sharing of information related to cybersecurity risks that may cause a transportation security incident.

Open to the public, the meeting is set to begin at 1 p.m. EST.

To pre-register to join the virtual meeting or for additional information, contact Ryan Owens at 202-302-6565 or ryan.f.owens@uscg.mil by 1 p.m. EST on March 16.

A limited number of virtual lines will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Submit comments and supporting documentation by March 16 to ensure they are received prior to the meeting.

They may be submitted at www.regulations.gov with docket number USCG-2023-0105.

Deck Exam Working Group

The National Maritime Center (NMC) has scheduled a deck exam working group for towing September 12–14 at the NMC in Martinsburg, W.Va.

“It is recommended that you have a towing endorsement for attending this session,” said Capt. B.W. Clare, the commanding officer.

“If you wish to attend, and you have not been part of an exam working group before, please visit the Examinations page of the NMC website under the Working Group tab for complete application instructions, which will include sending in a résumé and non-disclosure agreement.”

Previous attendees need to e-mail NMCExamWorkingGroup@uscg.mil.

“Examination question review is an opportunity to help the NMC and your fellow mariners make long-term improvements to the examination system,” Clare said.

For additional information or to share feedback, e-mail NMCExamWorkingGroup@uscg.mil.

Deepwater Port Licensing

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, urged the Maritime Administration (MarAd) to meet its statutory deadlines on applications for deepwater ports for exporting oil and natural gas.

In a letter to MarAd, Cruz stated the agency is going more than three years on average without issuing a deepwater port licensing decision, which he said was almost three times as long as is statutorily permitted.

Four of the current seven applications are for projects located off the Texas coast.

“Together these projects will create or support thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars in economic benefits,” he said.

In addition, Cruz said they will help establish greater energy stability for allies suffering from Russia’s weaponization of its energy reserves.

In response, a MarAd spokesperson cited the numerous reviews of deepwater port applications required by the Deepwater Port Act of 1974 (DWPA) and applicable regulations.

The spokesperson added the DWPA also requires MarAd to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 by conducting a thorough environmental review of an application in coordination with other federal agencies.

Invasive Species Committee

The Invasive Species Advisory Committee (ISAC) is scheduled to meet March 6–8 by Zoom virtual platform.

Meetings on all three days are set to begin at 1 p.m.

Registration is required by 3 p.m. Eastern March 3 at https://forms.office.com/g/ dna7MJd8Mn.

A limited number of connections will be available.

At least 48 hours before the meeting, a final agenda will be available on the National Invasive Species Council website at www.invasivespecies.gov.

For additional information on attending the meetings, submitting comments or addressing the ISAC, contact Kelsey Brantley at 202-577-7012 or kelsey_brantley@ios.doi.gov.