This entry is a continuation of the post entitled “COMMENT NOW On Automatic Identification System (AIS) and Notice Of Arrival and Departure (NOAD ) Rulemaking” .  Here are suggestions for writing your comments. Remember to submit by Wednesday, April 15, 2009. Instructions for filing comments to the docket are found below.

Describe your company and operations. This should include: (1) number of vessels and their sizes (lengths) and their passenger capacities; (2) type of service you provide (i.e., ferry, overnight cruise, sightseeing, dinner, etc.); (3) the bodies of water on which you operate (with commentary on whether or not there is other commercial vessel service there); (4) number of employees; (5) the fact that you are a small business or a service operated by a unit of government, as the case may be; (6) the number of passengers you carry per year; (7) the number of your vessels that will have to comply with AIS requirements; and (8) if your service involves cross-border or multiple Captain of the Port zones.
Describe potential financial impacts on your company. Discuss the impact of installing an AIS unit on your vessel. These impacts might be cost, space, budgeting cycle, lead-time for installation, compatibility of other installed electronic equipment, expense of crew training and annual equipment inspection/certification, or all of the foregoing. If NOAD is of concern, identify direct (time and equipment) and indirect (schedule, loading, infrastructure) costs.
If you have already installed AIS either voluntarily or because you operate in a VTS area, identify costs, compatibility with existing equipment, maintenance concerns, training, and other comments that will help define expected costs for a revised Coast Guard regulatory analysis.

Separately identify any problems (and estimate the costs associated with them) such as scheduling, down time, and out-of-service time if it alters the vessel operating schedule.

Support the call for a Supplementary Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPRM). The Regulatory Flexibility Analysis that “justifies” this NPRM fails to meet the regulation development mandates of law and Executive Order. Among its most serious shortcomings, it fails to account for a law that currently requires that all AIS-equipped vessels must eventually utilize electronic charts. It does not acknowledge or take into account the costs associated this additional statutory mandate.

Support the availability and use of Coast Guard-approved AIS Class B equipment. Simpler, less expensive Class B equipment meets the capabilities required for AIS, it is compatib le with Class A equipment, it provides the same ability to show targets that radar does not (those around a bend), it is less expensive to purchase, and its power demand is less. The proposed rule will allow the use of Class B equipment; PVA members are encouraged to explicitly support this aspect of the rule.

Challenge the new reduced 50-passenger threshold for AIS carriage. The majority of vessels that carry 50 to 150 passengers are small business entities that are likely to operate away from port concentrations and commercial shipping lanes, and they are not a high risk of a transportation security incident (TSI), according to the Coast Guard’s own risk analysis. The explanations accompanying the proposed rule offer no specific reason for reducing the threshold to 50 passengers, other than a general desire by the Coast Guard to have as many commercial vessels as possible carry AIS (of course, the tens of thousands of recreational boats will not be equipped with AIS)

Urge that the regulations reflect the legislative authority for AIS exemption by waterway. Congress provided for the exemption from AIS carriage by waterway or body of water. The NPRM has not adopted this provision in regulation, saying it would result in a “patchwork”. There are many lakes, rivers, headwaters, where a passenger vessel operation is the only commercial vessel operation. If you believe your area of operation is such a place, identify it by name in your comment as a candidate as an exempted waterway.

Challenge the need for a vessel exempted from AIS carriage to reapply annually. Congress provided for the exemption of individual vessels from the AIS carriage requirement. The NPRM uses illustrations of very limited circumstances as candidates. When the Coast Guard grants an AIS exemption, it proposes that it must be renewed on an annual basis. A better solution is that the exemption will continue in force as long as the conditions that led to granting it remain unchanged. If you believe you should be a candidate for a vessel exemption, identify those circumstances in your comment.

Indicate support for the “grandfathering” of existing AIS installations.

The NPRM proposes that the AIS information be accessible from the vessel’s primary conning position. Existing voluntary and mandatory installations may not be able to relocate equipment due to space or cost or both.

Physical accessibility may not be practical. Acceptance of existing system layout and utilization must remain an option.

Question the need for continuous operation of AIS equipment. Many domestic passenger vessels operate from public waterfronts, unimproved facilities, and other areas where shore power is unavailable or impractical. These vessel often go “dead ship” when docked overnight or for extended periods.

Operating an onboard generator is neither economical nor safe when the vessel is unmanned.

Point out the cumulative cost impact of recent federal regulations. The economic analysis looks only at the proposed rule in isolation. However, passenger vessel operators must bear other government-imposed economic impacts caused by vessel and facility security plans, TWIC, higher passenger weight calculations, permits for incidental discharges of wastewater, engine air emission limitations, vessel accessibility requirements, etc. Taken together, these impose burdensome costs at the same time the economy is at its weakest in decades. The Coast Guard should refrain from imposing additional costs regarding AIS when it has discretion to do so.

Challenge the responsibility for operators to collect passenger and crew information better collected by others (NOAD). The proposed rule requires the vessel operator to collect large volumes of person al data that has already been captured by other agencies of the Department of Homeland Security in the conduct of their statutory duties. This costly and duplicative mandate is time consuming without added value and is not in the public interest. Multiple data entries also provide an opportunity for potential mismatches that must be resolved.

Challenge the need to report vessel movement information in the NOAD. The installation of an AIS unit, and/or the participation in a cooperative VTS system provides all the information needed to monitor the vessel; thus, the NOAD is unnecessary for this purpose. The Coast Guard already has received the information regarding your last foreign port calls, and you should not be required to provide that information again.

Challenge the 60-minute notice before sailing (NOAD). The requirement for a 60-minute filing of a NOA before sailing is problematic for ferries and other vessels that are not cruise vessels. Ferries rely on short turn-around times, walk-up traffic, public right-of-way for queuing vehicles, and other operations that a problematic or prohibitive under a 60-minute before sailing filing.

Indicate your membership in the Passenger Vessel Association and urge the Coast Guard to consider carefully the PVA comment to the docket. The PVA comment to the docket will be available for your review on Friday, April 10.

If you have questions about or need help in drafting or filing your comments…. Contact PVA’s Regulatory Consultant Peter Lauridsen by phone at 757-995-2524 or by email at or PVA Directory of Safety and Security Beth Gedney by phone at 1-800-807-8360 ext. 26 or by email at



How to Submit Your Comments


 On the home page, under “More Search Options” (on the right), click on “Advanced Docket Search.” In the box “Docket ID,” type “USCG-2005-21869” and click the “submit” button on the bottom right.  On the right under the heading “Actions,” click the orange icon on the far right (“add comments”). When the next page opens, click again the orange icon on the far right (under “Add Comments”) and scroll down to “Submitter Information.” Note that you can either type your comments as text directly into the box or you can attach a document from your computer using the “browse” function.
  By mail:  Docket Management Facility (M-30)

U.S. Department of Transportation

West Building Ground Floor

 Room W12-140

1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE

Washington, DC 20590-0001

By Fax to: 202-493-2251


Thank you for commenting to the docket by Wednesday, April 15!