Commercial Vessel Compliance

11/3/2017: Coast Guard, class societies meet for 2nd annual summit on U.S. Flag State program

Rear Adm. John Nadeau, assistant commandant for prevention policy, hosted the 2nd Annual Authorized Classification Society Summit Oct. 17, 2017. Nadeau and senior staff met with representatives from each of the Authorized Classification Societies (ACS) to share relevant experiences with the goal of continual improvement of the U.S. Flag State program.

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 identify key performance indicators; and (3) collaboration with ACS to identify strengths and address gaps/obstacles in effective administration of further maritime safety, security and environmental stewardship within the U.S. Flag fleet.

In his remarks to the participants, Nadeau noted, “Authorized Class Societies are critical to the success of the U.S. Flag State. We need to maintain a strong understanding of each others’ roles, purposes, and expectations. We need to maintain robust communications, transparency and accountability to make ships safer and to protect mariners. That’s what the public demands of us.”

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.

Near the end of the Summit, Nadeau asked each ACS participant to submit a question, concern, or comment to him that they would like him to address in the open forum. Topics covered included the effectiveness of supplements, the importance of transparency and the difficulty of sharing information in the modern cyber environment, ways to identify the right key performance indicators to ensure a measurable process when considering risk, and compliance with the IMO Noise Code, which sets ships’ noise level limits and acoustic insulation requirements.

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. Additionally, ACS representatives and Coast Guard staff discussed possibilities for sharing information about the fleet in a cyber security-sensitive digital environment.

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.

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