USCG – AIS Encoding Guide

The US Coast Guard has posted an AIS Encoding Guide. International and domestic regulations require that mariners maintain each Automatic Identification System (AIS) in effective operating condition, which includes accurate data input and upkeep of AIS data parameters. The Guide may assist in meeting those requirements. (7/8/15).

Editor’s Note: The current locations of Tall Ships America Member Vessels with AIS capabilities can now be viewed on Tall Ships America’s new Fleet Tracker (updates in progress).

Tall Ships America member vessels represent a broad spectrum of vessel types, programs, and missions.The guidelines provided here attempt to cover a wide range of application and are necessarily general in nature. This document is aimed at providing a variety of options for implementation of a vessel-specific aloft safety regimen. This document offers some discussion and context for the provided options. It aims to provide resources for both training and equipment suitable for use in aloft work in sailing vessels, with emphasis placed on both training and safety. Effective training and practice are the primary means of ensuring safety aloft. Harnesses, lanyards, and related safety equipment provide protection in the event of the unexpected.

Sailing vessels, by nature of their design, require that personnel go aloft as part of the regular care and operation of the ship. Whether for routine rig inspections and maintenance or for the operation of the sailing rig, this aloft work carries with it a measure of risk. Although falls from aloft are rare, the implications of such a fall are dire. All sail training vessels must provide effective safety aloft training, gear, and operational protocols to their trainees and crew. All successful sail training operators place safety at the core of their program. Tall Ships America encourages a culture of safety and seeks to assist where it can in enhancing safety practices.

To continue reading the Guidelines for Safety Aloft, click here (PDF)


The US Coast Guard posted a notice reminding stakeholders of their ability to electronically check on the status of their vessel documentation paperwork at the USCG National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC). (4/16/15).

Check your paperwork status here. Please allow up to two weeks after their receipt of your submission before inquiring about the status.

DOT – drug testing programs
The Department of Transportation (DOT) promulgated a final rule expanding the definition of the chain of custody and control form (CCF) with regard to DOT-regulated drug testing programs to include both paper and electronic forms. The rule enters into effect immediately. It should be noted that the USCG drug testing program for US merchant mariners operates within this system. 80 Fed. Reg. 19551 (4/13/15).

Note: This item was brought to my attention by Richard Wells of the Offshore Marine Service Association via Captain Jonathan Kabak.

This year’s Annual Port Wide Industry Day will be held on Wednesday, May 6, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Baltimore Cruise Ship Terminal located at 2001 McComas Street, Baltimore, MD 21230. This event will be held in conjunction with the Federal Agency Trade Fair.

The Port-Wide Industry Day is designed as an informal exchange of information between the Coast Guard, Federal agencies, vessel operators, and Port of Baltimore stakeholders to exchange ideas and information in order to facilitate safe, secure, and environmentally sound maritime commerce. Presentations will address both local and national issues that impact the Port of Baltimore.

The Cruise Terminal has a predetermined climate control system so we recommend that you bring a jacket.

Please RSVP by using the following link by Friday, May 1, 2015, please include name of each guest. If for some reason the link does not work because of the security setting on your computer, you may also RSVP by calling Ms. Tammy Hicks at 410-576-2506:

For additional questions or concerns, please email MSTC Stephanie Decker at

U.S. Aids to Navigation

U.S. Aids to Navigation

The US Coast Guard issued a notice announcing that henceforth it will no longer produce printed Light List volumes. Only electronic versions will be available [80 Fed. Reg. 17473] (4/1/15).

Electronic Light Lists are available on the Coast Guard Navigation Center’s Web Site and are updated weekly.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently posted “Safer Seas 2014: Lessons Learned From Marine Accident Investigations.” The report is a compilation of accident investigations that were published in 2014, organized by vessel type, with links to the more detailed accident reports.


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