Greetings and welcome to Maritime Commons, the Coast Guard’s official blog for the maritime professional!
As the Director of Commercial Regulations and Standards , I am excited to have this new communication platform to connect with maritime stakeholders over issues that are occurring in my line of work and affecting maritime industry. One recent change I have witnessed in international standards development in the International Maritime Organization is the shift toward the use of goal-based standards , or GBS. This GBS regime, sometimes referred to as performance or risk-based standards, provides high-level safety objectives or goals, each accompanied by a set of functional requirements, to address various safety risks. From these goals and functional requirements, detailed and prescriptive requirements are derived. The advantage of GBS is that it provides greater opportunities for the industry to offer alternatives to prescriptive requirements, often through technology developments.
Technological advances offer maritime operators the potential for economic or operational advantages, but can result in designs that were not envisioned when our regulations were published, making it difficult to determine if the safety risks have been adequately addressed. This is a challenge for all regulatory bodies, including IMO and the Coast Guard, and one that is becoming more and more evident in certain industry sectors, notably offshore and cruise ships.
To date, the Coast Guard Marine Safety Center and the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters Office of Design & Engineering Standards engineers have coordinated with industry and our stakeholders to ensure an appropriate level of safety for novel forms of design and operation brought about through advances in technology.
I’m convinced we will continue to do this, but as we look to the future, having a GBS regime that lays out high level goals and functional requirements should lead to a more robust, flexible and longer lasting regulatory regime that accommodates technology development and deployment. Developing and implementing performance-based regulations is not easy. It will continue to challenge us and those that follow us. Looking back over the past few years, I have seen extraordinary developments in available technologies and welcomed new ideas for standards development to embrace this evolving aspect of our job.
I look forward to communicating and connecting with you on future issues and topics that affect you, the professional mariner, on Maritime Commons. Please subscribe and stay tuned for future letters from my program as well as other relevant Coast Guard programs.
Director of Commercial Regulations and Standards
This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.