Commercial Vessel Compliance

6/20/2018: Coast Guard-Passenger Vessel Association Quality Partnership Meeting recap

The Coast Guard and the Passenger Vessel Association (PVA) held their bi-annual Quality Partnership Meeting in May to discuss safety issues and other topics affecting the professional passenger vessel industry. The Coast Guard/PVA partnership was established in 1996 as a non-regulatory mechanism for cooperative, informal, consistent and structured activities to address issues of passenger, personnel, and property safety, and environmental protection within the domestic passenger industry.

Attendees included Coast Guard staff from the offices of Commercial Vessel Compliance, Investigations and Casualty Analysis, Waterways and Ocean Policy, Port and Facility Compliance, Traveling Inspectors, Auxiliary and Boating Safety, Design and Engineering Standards, and Sector Maryland-National Capital Region. Representatives from many segments of the passenger vessel industry were also present: river cruise lines, the amphibious vessel fleet, ferry services fleet, and naval architects.

In remarks to attendees, Rear Adm. John Nadeau, Coast Guard co-chair and assistant commandant for prevention policy at Coast Guard Headquarters, and Gus Gaspardo, co-chair and president of the PVA, welcomed members to the meeting and thanked them for their dedication and commitment to the safety of the millions of people that the country’s 6,200 passenger vessels transport annually.

“It’s great to partner with PVA again, because there’s a lot of good work we can do as we continue to develop this crucial relationship,” said Nadeau. “I respect what you all do and know you’re out there working hard to make things happen. I want to support you in that.”

Lt. Cmdr. Chris Nichols with the Coast Guard’s Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance kicked off the formal agenda with a presentation on the importance of fostering a safety culture and explained how the new Coast Guard form CG-835V contributes to that effort.

The CG-835V, Vessel Inspection Requirement, is specifically tailored to allow marine inspectors to capture more detailed deficiency data in a manner that is aligned with globally accepted Port State Control methodologies. Its key feature is that it includes a self-reporting category the marine inspector can choose when vessel owners/operators report known deficiencies they are working to correct.

Nichols said that although the safety recommendations from the commandant’s El Faro Final Action Memo were focused on the U.S. deep draft fleet, the concepts of safety management apply to all vessel types and the Coast Guard needed a better way to capture vessel deficiency data. By establishing a better fleet risk index, Nichols said the Coast Guard can analyze the data for any particular fleet type and identify patterns in deficiencies. Editor’s note: Read our post on the 835V for further details.

Nadeau and Gaspardo then heard from members about the progress of workgroup projects and initiatives:

• As the Coast Guard continues implementation of the risk-based vessel inspection policy (CVC Policy Letter 16-05(CH-1) the data showed the methodology allowed inspectors in ports throughout the U.S., including Chicago and Baltimore, to spend less time on vessels with good practices and more time on vessels with a higher risk. Implementation of the policy continues. PVA also incorporated elements of the policy into FlagShip, PVA’s Coast Guard-approved alternate safety management plan.

• The Slips, Trips, & Falls workgroup completed a written guide that discusses ST&F mitigation strategies for passenger vessel operations, and incorporated the findings into the training manual. The guide will be available on PVA’s website soon, but other material on ST&F is available by emailing

• The Coast Guard’s Office of Investigation and Analysis is exploring options to reach out directly to 190 known operators of illegal passenger charters to educate them on the laws and regulations for chartered passenger vessels in attempt to steer them toward compliance. The Coast Guard and PVA will continue to seek opportunities to work together with local law enforcement to educate the public and identify illegal charter operations and hold them accountable.

• Summary of the 2013-2018 recreational craft and commercial passenger vessel casualty data. The data shows incidents are trending downward.

• The group continued discussions regarding casualty statistics on deaths and injuries resulting from interactions between commercial and recreational vessels, and opportunities to provide training to both groups on sharing the waterways.

To close the meeting, the group discussed several other topics including:

• A Coast Guard policy addressing the timing of when letters of intent to investigate are sent to mariners following a casualty
• The April 2018 publication of the final rule to change the marine casualty property damage reporting thresholds
• Recommendations for managing waterways and events to avoid conflicts
• Future plans for revisions to the amphibious vessel Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular
• Improvements for industry training with PVA

The next Coast Guard/PVA Quality Partnership meeting will be held in the fall.

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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