Washington Waves
Washington Waves

CG Steps Up Inspections Of Some Passenger Vessels

Washington, D.C.—Along with a new, concentrated inspection campaign focused on fire safety on small passenger vessels, the Coast Guard announced some vessels initially certificated prior to 1996 that carry 100 or more passengers will be subject to in-service inspection to verify certain arrangements and procedures.

That announcement was included in Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) 05-23, Fire Safety on Small Passenger Vessels, which also encourages owners and operators to perform a self-assessment of their vessels’ fire safety.

A checklist evaluating fire safety and emergency preparedness on board can be found in MSIB 05-23, which is available at www.dco.uscg.mil/Featured-Content/Mariners/Marine-Safety-Information-Bulletins-MSIB/.

For more information, contact CGCVC@uscg.mil.


President Joe Biden, as expected, wasted no time in vetoing H.J. Res. 27 that would have blocked his administration’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. (The rule, however, was blocked in 24 states by a judge in North Dakota April 12.)

In his veto message, Biden said his administration’s revised definition of WOTUS carefully sets the bounds for which bodies of water are protected under the Clean Water Act.

“It provides clear rules of the road that will help advance infrastructure projects, economic investments and agricultural activities, all while protecting water quality and public health,” the president said.

Biden’s veto shifted attention to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to issue its decision in the Sackett v. EPA case in June, which some believe could impact the WOTUS rule.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who led the Senate in a bipartisan vote of 53 to 43 to repeal the WOTUS rule, has said waiting for the Sackett decision could have minimized uncertainty.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan has disagreed, saying the 2023 WOTUS rule was designed to absorb the high court’s ruling without triggering a new rule.

Mercury Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed strengthening its Mercury and Air Standards (MATS) for coal-fired power plants, a move criticized by a key Republican senator as another example of the Biden administration’s war on coal.

“America is leading the way in innovation, and our work to protect public health is no different,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said of the proposal, which his agency said was the most significant update since MATS was first issued in 2012.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said the action was unnecessary.

“The Biden administration continues to wage war on coal and affordable, reliable energy by issuing unnecessary regulations intended to drive down electricity production from our nation’s baseload power resources,” Capito said.

She cited the Biden administration’s earlier agreement with the Trump administration that the existing controls on coal plants under MATS protect the public with an ample margin of safety. EPA’s proposal will be subject to a 60-day public comment period.

Lifejacket Standards

The Coast Guard is accepting public comments on its proposal to replace legacy standards on lifejackets, remove obsolete equipment approval requirements, streamline the approval process and allow manufacturers to produce more innovative equipment.

The equipment would meet approval requirements in both Canada and the United States while also reducing the production inspections on manufacturing firms.

Comments must be received by June 6 and may be submitted at www.regulations.gov using docket number USCG-2022-0120.

For additional information, contact Jacqueline Yurkovich at 202-372-1389 or Jacqueline.m.yurkovich@uscg.mil.

Navigation Bridge Visibility

The Coast Guard issued Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) 04-23 warning mariners of reduced visibility from the navigation bridge on an increasing number of break-bulk and retrofitted bulk carriers arriving in the U.S. carrying wind turbine parts.

Noting the manner the parts can be stowed, the  MSIB stated that many of these vessels were issued dispensation letters by their flag administration or recognized organization that temporarily exempted compliance with the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) 1974 Chapter V, Regulation 22, which specifies requirements regarding navigation bridge visibility standards.

It went on to explain that such dispensation letters do not exempt vessels from complying with corresponding U.S. requirements on navigation bridge visibility found in Title 33 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) § 164.15.

“Operators of vessels that do not comply with U.S. regulations for navigation bridge visibility must notify the local U.S. Coast Guard Sector before the vessel enters U.S. waters and request to deviate from the rule,” the MSIB stated.

FMC To Meet

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is scheduled to meet April 19 in Washington, D.C., to discuss the Maritime Transportation Data Initiative, Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 and the Bureau of Enforcement, Investigations and Compliance.

With parts open to the public, the meeting is set to begin at 10 a.m. at the FMC, 800 N. Capitol St., NW, 1st Floor Hearing Room and online on the FMC’s YouTube channel.

Requests to register to attend the meeting in person should be submitted by 5 p.m. April 17 to secretary@fmc.gov and contain “April 19, 2023, Commission Meeting” in the subject line.

Limited seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for those who registered in advance.

For additional information, contact William Cody at 202-523-5725.

Boat Station Consolidation

The Coast Guard requested public comments on a planned consolidation of three redundant, seasonally operated boat stations and the seasonalization of one boat station.

Seasonal stations identified for consolidation with neighboring stations include Stations-Small Block Island, R.I.; Ocracoke, N.C.; and Sackets Harbor, N.Y., which are detached subunits of larger parent stations.

Station Small East Moriches, N.Y., has been identified for seasonalization, which means operating from this location during the peak boating season.

Comments and related material must reach the Coast Guard by June 4 and may be submitted via www.regulations.gov using docket number USCG– 2023–0100.

For additional information, contact Todd Aikins at 202-372-2463 or todd.r.aikins@uscg.mil.