On February 8, 2016, the President signed H.R. Bill 4188, the “Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015” into law. In it, section 301 amended the out-of-water survival craft requirements in Title 46 United States Code (U.S.C.) §3104, limiting its applicability. This Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) notifies the public of these changes and hereby cancels the now obsolete CVC Policy Letter 15-05, which concerned previous out-of-water survival craft requirements.
Section 301 of the 2015 Coast Guard Authorization Act (CGAA) had two significant effects on the applicability of out-of-water survival craft. First, it amended 46 U.S.C. §3104, paragraph (a), requiring that only “passenger vessels” that operate in cold waters and are built or undergo a major conversion after January 1, 2016 shall be equipped with out-of-water survival craft. "Passenger vessel" is defined in 46 U.S.C. §2101(22) as a vessel of at least 100 gross tons (among other criteria). Currently, Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Subchapter H - Passenger Vessels and 46 CFR, Subchapter W - Lifesaving Appliances and Arrangements dictates the survival craft requirements for passenger vessels of at least 100 gross tons. The lowest category of survival craft authorized in Subchapter W is the Inflatable Buoyant Apparatus (IBAs), with which, no part of an individual is immersed in water. Therefore, passenger vessels properly in compliance with Subchapters H and W already meet the out-of-water survival craft requirements directed in the amended 46 U.S.C. §3104.
Second, the 2015 CGAA removed the language in the previous amendment of 46 U.S.C. §3104 that restricted the Coast Guard from approving any in-water survival craft (e.g., life floats and buoyant apparatus) for the purposes of all of Part B of Title 46 U.S.C. Therefore, because the other inspected vessels (small passenger vessels, offshore supply vessels, sailing school vessels, and cargo vessels as mentioned in the CVC Policy Letter 15-05) were not specifically named in the 2015 CGAA, they may continue to use their existing in-water survival craft beyond February 26, 2016. Furthermore, all fixed manned offshore platforms may continue to use in-water survival craft beyond February 26, 2016, as well. The Coast Guard will be issuing separate correspondence to survival craft manufactures re-authorizing or extending their type approval certificates for in-water survival craft. Lastly, a separate information bulletin will be issued explaining the survival craft requirements specifically for uninspected commercial fishing vessels.
Again, as a result of the 2015 CGAA, CVC Policy Letter 15-05 is rendered obsolete and the Coast Guard is cancelling it effective immediately. The Coast Guard stands ready to answer the questions of vessel and offshore platform owners and operators regarding their specific survival craft requirements.
Questions concerning this matter may be directed to the Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance, Commandant (CG-CVC) at 202-372-1220, or at CG-CVCfirstname.lastname@example.org. Questions specifically concerning survival craft type approvals should be directed to the Office of Design and Engineering Standards, Commandant (CG-ENG) at TypeApproval@uscg.mil.
Statement by the White House Press Secretary
On Monday, February 08, 2016, the President signed into law: H.R. 4188, the “Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015,” which (1) authorizes FYs 2016 and 2017 appropriations and amends laws related to the Coast Guard; (2) authorizes FYs 2016 and 2017 appropriations for the Federal Maritime Commission; and (3) amends various other maritime-related provisions of law;
A Public Law Number will be assigned soon.
To All NACO Members:
We are extremely pleased to provide the above info to you. H.R.4188, Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015, includes Sec 301 which replaces Sec 301 of the Coast Guard Act of 2010. This is known as the out of the water survival craft regulation and the new language eliminates the 2010 requirement and places the responsibility of required safety equipment back into the hands of the USCG, the experts on vessel, crew, and passenger safety.
In June of 2011 NACO took the lead to organize a coalition of Regional and National Passenger Vessel Associations to work with Congress to change a requirement that mandated all USCG Certified Passenger Vessels to carry out of the water survival craft. The 2010 USCG Appropriations Act included this requirement which would have eliminated the use of the Life Floats most of these vessels have historically carried. After over 4 years of combined hard work by NACO and our partners working with Congress on February 1, 2016 we finally achieved success as the House passed HR 4188, the USCG Authorization Act of 2015, which includes Sec 301 that supersedes the 2010 requirement. Most, if not all USCG COI Passenger Vessels will now be allowed to operate with the same safety equipment we have always used. Our efforts result in a significant cost savings for the owners of these USCG COI vessels and also eliminate an additional regulatory burden.
We have calculated the approximate savings for these vessel owners. Keep in mind that NACO membership is only $50.00 per year. The savings listed below are based on a 48’ charter fishing vessel that is certified to carry 18 passengers. With a crew of 4 this vessel would have had to have a 25 person out of the water survival craft which weighs almost 400 pounds. Depending on where the survival craft is located the vessel may require a launching device and because of the extra weight of both a stability test may be required. After the 2nd year the inflatable would require yearly servicing at an approved facility meaning the vessel would not be able to sail while the inflatable is off the vessel. In addition to the initial costs, the yearly reinspection costs, the potential costs of a stability test, and potential costs of a launching device, the USCG required monthly safety drills would also include a drill to pretend to launch the inflatable in case of an emergency.
All costs are approximate and based on the maximum costs since some route requirements may require less expensive inflatables.
25 person Inflatable fully equipped $8,000.00
New vessel stability test
NACO efforts to ease the regulatory burdens and costs due to the legislation we helped to pass have saved the USCG COI vessel owner several thousand dollars and eased the monthly drill reporting process. The figures above will vary depending on the vessel passenger capacity, route, and other factors. In addition, our efforts to reduce the burdens on USCG COI vessels work to prevent similar requirements on all passenger vessels, inspected or not.
This effort is just one example of the many benefits of membership in NACO. Clearly, the $50.00 per year membership fee is one of the best bargains a for hire passenger vessel owner can find.
NACO has worked over 4 years with other industry partners to have the current legislation passed and signed into law. The 2010 regulation was going to create unnecessary expenses and regulatory burdens on the small passenger vessel industry. The effort we have provided on behalf of our members will save thousands of dollars immediately and for many in the future.