Commercial Vessel Compliance

11/9/2016: Coast Guard Authorized Classification Society (ACS) Summit

On Nov. 7, 2016, Rear Adm. Paul Thomas, assistant commandant for prevention policy, and senior staff met with representatives from each of the Authorized Classification Societies (ACS) to discuss statutory surveys and audits performed on behalf of the U. S. Coast Guard.

The goals for the Summit were to promote: (1) a common understanding of U.S. Coast Guard policy and activities related to delegations for issuance of international certificates to U.S. Flag vessels; (2) accountability for organizations and personnel acting on behalf of the U.S. Flag; and (3) collaboration among ACS to further maritime safety, security and environmental stewardship within the U.S. Flag fleet.

In his remarks to the participants, Thomas noted, “We are all faced with issues of ever increasing capacity challenges and complexity in the maritime transportation system. The U.S. Coast Guard relies on Classification Society expertise to meet these challenges, so we must ensure that we are providing adequate oversight of the work conducted on behalf of the U.S. Flag administration. We need to further align our policies and processes with relevant International Maritime Organization (IMO) Codes and practices in order to continuously improve oversight and accountability.”

The Summit included a series of targeted briefs and facilitated discussions between senior Coast Guard Headquarters’ staff and participants. Coast Guard staff from the offices of Commercial Vessel Compliance and Design and Engineering Standards, and Coast Guard members of the Traveling Inspection Staff, the Marine Safety Center, and the Third Party Review Team  provided briefs on their work to apply, review and update policies related to the delegated functions under the IMO Code for Recognized Organizations (RO Code) . During the facilitated discussions, the Coast Guard and participants discussed program strengths and opportunities related to vessel design standards, ACS authorization and delegation processes, oversight policy, inspector and surveyor training, key performance indicators and communications. Participants also discussed opportunities to further tie inspection and survey findings to management system audits.

ACS participants praised the Summit for promoting communications among the organizations. During the discussion on strengths and opportunities, ACS participants highlighted their desire to see U.S. Coast Guard standards, policies and processes align even more closely with International and industry standards for vessel design, delegation, auditing and oversight.

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.