On December 16, 2008, the Coast Guard issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Vessel Requirements for Notices of Arrival and Departure (NOAD) and Automatic Identification System (AIS). With regard to vessels operated by Passenger Vessel Association  (PVA) members on the navigable waters of the U.S., this NPRM proposes that all vessels with a capacity of 50 or more passengers must carry and use AIS, as must any commercial passenger vessel (regardless of passenger capacity) with a length of 65 feet or more. In addition, certain PVA members with vessels that travel on international routes or that travel between Captain of the Port (COTP) zones would be subject to the expansion of notice of arrival and departure requirements.

 

AIS automatically broadcasts dynamic, static and voyage-related vessel information that is received by other AIS-equipped vessels and shore stations. Currently, AIS carriage is required for passenger vessels carrying more than 150 passengers when operating in Vessel Traffic Service(VTS) areas. The AIS portion of the proposed rule would “expand the applicability of AIS requirements beyond Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) areas, to all U.S. navigable waters and require AIS carriage for additional commercial vessels.” The proposed rule would expand AIS carriage requirement to passenger vessels carrying 50 or more passengers operating on navigable waters of the U.S, as well as passenger vessels that are 65 feet or more in length. The Coast Guard’s regulatory analysis estimates that the number of U.S. passenger vessels impacted by this portion of the rule is 3,235 vessels.

 

The proposed rule on AIS allows for limited exceptions from the mandatory AIS carriage requirement to be granted on a year-to-year basis for a vessel that operates on routes that meet very strict criteria.

 

The NOAD portion of the rule would “expand the applicability of notice of arrival (NOA) requirements to additional vessels, establish a separate requirement for certain vessels to submit notices of departure (NOD), set forth a mandatory method for electronic submission of NOA and NOD, and modify related reporting content, timeframes, and procedures. Currently vessels over 300 gross tons submit a NOA 96 hours before arriving at a U.S. port or place to the National Vessel Movement Center (NVMC) with information on passengers, crew, and cargo. The proposed rule would “eliminate the 300-gross-tons threshold exception and require NOADs from all foreign commercial vessels departing to or coming from a port or place in the United States and all U.S. commercial vessels coming to a port or place from a foreign port.

In general, a rulemaking identifies a problem, explores alternative measures for remedy, and then in a disciplined manner examines those alternatives for effectiveness and cost. There is a direct linkage between costs and possible alternatives proposed for adoption. Because this proposed rule is based on a deeply flawed regulatory analysis, it has failed to justify its more sweeping changes.

 

PVA members must educate the Coast Guard on costs, operations, impacts on small business, and even s uch basics as the make-up of the industry, its services, and its passenger carriage by submitting comments to the regulatory docket.

 

PVA Members Must Comment to the Regulatory Docket by Wednesday, April 15, 2009

 

PVA will be sending detailed written comments to the regulatory docket and strongly urges PVA members to send in their own comments as well. The more PVA member comments that go in, the bigger an impact PVA will have. 

Click on the following link to see a copy of the Coast Guard’s proposed rule. http://www.pvastaff.com/pvamemberupdate/passengerweightproposedrule.pdf 

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