H.R. 3619, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 has passed through Congress. The bill awaits President Obama’s signature to become law.  This will be the first Coast Guard authorization enacted since 2006. 

Requirements for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential

(TWIC) have been eased. No longer will anyone with a Coast Guard license or merchant mariner document need to have a TWIC. The TWIC requirement will be required only if he or she is allowed unescorted access to a secure area of a vessel with a Coast Guard-required security plan. In addition, the Secretary of Homeland Security is to assess the number and locations of TWIC enrollment centers and the quality of their performances.

There is a new civil penalty of up to $5,000 per violation for an individual found to possess illegal drugs or other controlled substances while on a vessel subject to U.S. jurisdiction. This civil penalty will be independent of any criminal charge that might be imposed.

The lessel operating in the U.S. shall have a hull with an anti-fouling coating containing organotin (including tributyltin), unless it has an overcoating that prevents leaching. 

Safety management systems will be required of certain passenger vessels.

The Coast Guard is given the authority to determine exactly which vessels will be subject to the requirement and to specify exactly what a safety management system entails, taking into account the characteristics, methods of operation, and nature of service of the vessels. 

The legislation mandates that new survival craft must prevent any part of an individual from being immersed in water. Existing survival craft in good condition can stay in service until the year 2015. The legislation does not impose a duty to carry survival craft on any vessel not already subject to a requirement, nor does it define exactly what the term “survival craft” means.