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December 15, 2003

USCG issues security plan reminder

The U.S. Coast Guard has issued a reminder that security plans for vessels and facilities affected by the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 are due to the Coast Guard by the end of this month. It warns that it may impose civil penalties for not complying with the requirement. It also points out that foreign-flag ships are NOT to submit plans to the U.S. Coast Guard.
 
The Coast Guard estimates that 10,000 U.S. flag vessels, 5,000 facilities and 50 outer continental shelf facilities are required to submit security plans by December 31.
 
Starting January 1, 2004, the Coast Guard will begin enforcing the security plan submission requirement.  Failure to submit a plan is a violation of the MTSA rules and may result in a civil penalty of up to $25,000 per violation against the owner or operator of the vessel or facility. After July 1, 2004, non-compliant operators may have their operation shut down until an approved security plan is in place.
 
As part of its efforts to provide flexibility in its requirements, the Coast Guard allows industry groups to develop an Alternative Security Program for a group of vessels or facilities.  So far, the Coast Guard has approved ASPs for the Passenger Vessel Association, American Gaming Association, and American Waterways Operators.  Members of these organizations may adopt the approved ASP in its entirety to satisfy the MTSA requirements.  Those who implement an ASP must send a letter to the Coast Guard identifying the ASP they implemented, those vessels or facilities that will implement the ASP, and attesting that they are in full compliance.
 
Foreign-flagged vessels subject to the requirements of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea should submit their security plans to their flag states or flag administrations as specified in the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.  Security plans for these vessels are not to be submitted to the Coast Guard.  After July 1, 2004, the Coast Guard will begin boarding these vessels to insure that the security plan has been properly implemented.
 
The Coast Guard has established a Help Desk to assist industry with understanding the regulations.  The Help Desk can be reached from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST Monday through Friday at 1-877-687-2243 or 202-366-9991, or by e-mail at uscgregs@comdt.uscg.mil.
 
The full text of the rules and other information can be found on the Coast Guard’s port security website at: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/mp/index.shtml
 
 

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