Commercial Vessel Compliance

2/16/2018: Passenger Vessel Association 2018 convention – recap of remarks

Photo of PVA president and Admiral Nadeau shaking hands after signing charter.

Then PVA President Jeff Whitaker and Rear Adm. John Nadeau shake hands after signing a new workgroup charter on design features for lithium ion battery installations, during PVA’s annual convention at Maritrends 2018. PVA photo by Steve Terry.

The Passenger Vessel Association held its annual convention in Savannah, Georgia, Jan. 27-31, 2018, and nearly a dozen Coast Guard senior leaders and staff had the opportunity to provide their thoughts on topics of mutual importance to industry and regulators.

During opening remarks, Rear Adm. John Nadeau, assistant commandant for prevention policy, focused on the valuable partnership with PVA. Nadeau cited several recent accomplishments, including a new workgroup charter on design features for lithium ion battery installations; inspection and PR guidance for automated systems; and boat sharing and illegal charter operations.

Nadeau also discussed his priorities for the near future. At the top of the list is an overhaul of the Service’s oversight and management of third party organizations that do work on behalf of the Coast Guard. Nadeau said this will be accomplished through updated policy, better training of marine inspectors, improved information management, and clear accountability.

“TPOs are not going away but have continued to evolve and grow in volume and complexity over the years, but our processes for management have not kept pace,” Nadeau said. “Now, more than ever, the system needs reform.”

However, Nadeau said there has been no discussion or consideration of mandating the use of TPOs for small passenger vessel inspections, and that the Coast Guard will continue to leverage TPOs in other areas and strive to maintain service of T and K boats with Coast Guard marine inspectors.

Nadeau said his other priorities focus on 21st Century issues, such as adaptation and evolution of policy and standards to facilitate safe and secure industry innovation in emerging technologies like cyber, new fuel sources, and autonomous vessels. Additionally, Nadeau said he will continue to seek practical implementation and measured enforcement of Subchapter M and ballast water management system requirements.

Nadeau closed his remarks by congratulating the passenger vessel industry on its strong safety record and reputation but encouraged continued vigilance and cultivation of professional relationships with local Coast Guard marine inspectors.

“For two decades the Coast Guard and PVA have enjoyed vibrant, relevant, and impactful collaboration, and our tangible shared achievements illustrate the benefits of our partnership,” Nadeau said. “The Coast Guard remains fully committed to our mutual goals and objectives.”

Rear Adm. Linda Fagan, deputy commandant for operations, policy, and capabilities, gave remarks during a meeting with current and past PVA board members. During the meeting, Fagan emphasized the importance of the passenger vessel industry and its role in tackling many shared challenges: mass rescue and natural disaster operations; cyber security; illegal charters and battery power; and maintaining a strong and viable U.S. Marine Transportation System.

“As we look back on all our combined history, I think that we can all agree that by working together we have handled some difficult challenges,” Fagan said. “We haven’t always agreed on the solutions, but we’ve relied on the strength of our collaboration and common values to work through the issues.”

Fagan also discussed the passenger vessel industry’s role in maintaining a strong and viable Marine Transportation System.

“The MTS connects America’s consumers, producers, manufacturers, and farmers to domestic and global markets, provides access to our Nation’s vast natural resources and is used by millions of passengers for transportation and recreation every year,” Fagan said.

Fagan said the Coast Guard is focusing on several areas in order to better support the whole of maritime industry and the MTS: modernizing the navigation system; recapitalizing its aging construction tenders and improving domestic icebreaking capabilities; and improving its information systems.

Before leaving the lectern, Fagan presented Pete Lauridsen, retired Coast Guardsman and long-standing PVA member, with the Coast Guard’s Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to advancing maritime safety.

“For over 29 years Captain Lauridsen has provided leadership and wisdom to the domestic passenger vessel industry through his work with the Passenger Vessel Association,” Fagan said. “He marshaled industry participation in some of the most significant regulatory and policy promulgation and implementation in the last 50 years; ensuring the voices and insights of the regulated community were heard.”

Capt. Jason Neubauer, chief of the Office of Investigations and Analysis, gave a presentation on the El Faro investigation in order to highlight findings universal for all mariners, including small passenger vessel operators.

Neubauer, who was also the chairman of the Marine Board of Investigation into El Faro’s sinking, said shortfalls in Bridge Resource Management, crew competency related to weather and damage stability, and unidentified vulnerabilities to the El Faro’s watertight integrity and engineering plant contributed to its sinking. He encouraged the passenger vessel industry to examine how those factors may impact its own operations.

Neubauer also stressed the importance of having an active shore side support structure for operational vessels.

“Larger commercial vessels rely on required Safety Management Systems to detail the interface between shore side managers and the operational vessels,” Neubauer said. “Since SMSs are not required for PVA members and their operations, it is important to have an equivalent safety system in place.”

Neubauer was joined in his presentation by Pete Lauridsen, who served as chairman of the MBI for the sinking of the S.S. Marine Electric in 1983.

Lauridsen highlighted several findings from that investigation that are still relevant today, including a warning against over reliance on third parties to conduct safety functions on behalf of the Coast Guard. Although Coast Guard marine inspectors perform the primary compliance activities for PVA members, small passenger vessels do use third parties to carry out important safety functions like fixed firefighting system maintenance.

Lt. Cmdr. Brandon Link with the Office of Port and Facility Compliance gave a presentation on the new cybersecurity framework profile for the passenger vessel industry. The profile derived from a collaborative effort between the Coast Guard, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) National Cybersescurity Center of Excellence, and industry stakeholders, including PVA and Cruise Line International Association. Released January 12, the profile provides a pathway for industry to implement the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.

NIST developed the Cybersecurity Framework in 2014 to address and manage cybersecurity risk in a cost-effective way based on business needs and without placing additional regulatory requirements on businesses. The profile outlines a desired minimum state of cyber risk management for the passenger vessel industry, and provides the opportunity to plan for future business decisions.

Link shared lessons learned in developing the profiles such as leveraging existing technical and industry standards and structures, using industry led decision-making, making results actionable, and linking it all together for the C-Suite Level executives, onsite managers, and techies.

Other Coast Guard presentations during the convention included:

7th District’s Passenger Vessel Safety Specialist Paul Culver and Tom Gorgol from the Office of Search and Rescue led an interactive session to discuss lessons learned from mass rescues.
• Lt. Cmdr. Amanda Fahrig, the industry training liaison, provided the latest on ‘Slips, Trips, and Falls.’
• Cdr. Zeita Merchant, commanding officer of Marine Safety Unit Chicago, gave a presentation on illegal charters and enforcement strategies.
• Cdr. Nicolette Vaughan from Sector New York, presented methods for coping with marine events.
• Capt. Kirsten Martin, commanding officer of the National Maritime Center, gave an overview of recent improvements to the mariner credentialing program.
• Lt. Cdr. Chad Robuck, from the Marine Safety Center, presented on design considerations for hybrid and full electric systems.

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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