Commercial Vessel Compliance

2/4/2019: Transportation of hazardous material by ferries

Submitted by Lt. Cmdr. Pete Bizzaro, Office of Commerical Vessel Compliance

Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) found in 49 CFR Parts 171-180 govern ferry vessels that transport hazardous materials (HAZMAT). The Coast Guard recently consulted with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to ensure alignment regarding training for mariners working on ferry vessels that transport HAZMAT.

Ferry vessels transporting HAZMAT are subject to requirements in 49 CFR, Subchapter C, Part 176, Subpart E, and 49 CFR, § 176.88 expressly states that “the requirements in this subpart are applicable to transport vehicles containing hazardous materials being transported on board ferry vessels and are in addition to any prescribed elsewhere in this subchapter” (emphasis added). This includes the training requirements in §§ 172.700-704 and 176.13, if applicable.

Taking this into account, the most important question ferry owners/operators should ask is, who is a HAZMAT employee, and thus requires training? The HMR (§ 171.8) defines a HAZMAT employee as a person who is:

“Employed on a full time, part time, or temporary basis by a hazmat employer and who in the course of such full time, part time or temporary employment directly affects hazardous materials transportation safety.” The definition also includes a provision for a person who is responsible for the safety of transporting hazardous materials.

In August 2013, PHMSA issued a letter of interpretation (Ref. No. 13-0132), which notes:

“State ferry employees who position transport vehicles carrying hazmat to comply with § 176.83, or direct placement of such transport vehicles as required by § 176.89(a)(2), directly affect hazardous materials safety and bear responsibility for the safe transportation of hazardous materials. Such employees are “hazmat employees” and are subject to the training requirements of § 172.700-704.”

At a minimum, the captain of the ferry and the person directing stowage location for the vehicle on the ferry are directly responsible for HAZMAT transportation safety, are considered HAZMAT employees, and are thus subject to HMR training requirements.

When HAZMAT is in or on a transport vehicle and the vehicle is placed onboard a ferry, then that ferry is subject to the requirements of the HMR. There are certain limited exceptions, but in general, the following provisions of Part 176 are to be applied:

• Stowage locations prescribed on Certificates of Inspection should be based on existing regulatory requirements, as well as any additional requirements deemed necessary by the Officer in Charge, Marine Inspection. Transport vehicles carrying HAZMAT need to be stowed on deck and segregated based on the hazard of the material carried by the transport vehicles (see § 176.83).

• Incompatible HAZMAT can be carried in different transport vehicles onboard a ferry, but they must be stowed to maximize separation. The requirement that truck drivers have appropriate HAZMAT training and remain with the vehicle does not negate the requirement for certain ferry personnel to also complete HAZMAT training (see § 176.89).

• Additional requirements found in Parts 171, 172, and 173 of 49 CFR, Subchapter C also apply.

Questions concerning this notice may be directed to the local Officer in Charge, Marine Inspection or the Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance at

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.

Leave a Reply