Commercial Vessel Compliance

4/5/2019: CMA Shipping 2019 – Summary of Coast Guard remarks to INTERTANKO panel


Photo of Rear Adm. John Nadeau talking in front of a panel of people.

Rear Adm. John Nadeau, assistant commandant for prevention policy, addressed leaders of the International Association of Independent Oil Tankers during Connecticut Maritime Association’s Shipping Conference 2019, in Stamford, Connecticut, April 2, 2019.

INTERTANKO represents independent owners and operators of oil, chemical and gas tankers, and non-state controlled tanker owners.

“It is an honor and privilege to be here and I appreciate the exchange that we have during this meeting,” Nadeau said. “I always learn something and leave a little bit smarter than when I arrived.”

Nadeau began with a brief mention of the Seafarers’ Access to Maritime Facilities Final Rule, which published in the Federal Register April 1 and brought to a successful conclusion a rulemaking project that began in 2014.

“I’m very pleased we were able to get this done and make sure seafarers are not denied access to fundamental shore side services during port calls,” Nadeau said. “This regulation is about the people who work in this industry, which is something I think we can and should all get behind.”

Nadeau then gave a sneak peek at the upcoming Port State Control annual report, due out in the coming days. Approximately 10,000 unique vessels representing 84 different flag states made over 84,000 U.S. port calls in 2018. Coast Guard marine inspectors conducted over 9,000 PSC exams and 8,800 ISPS exams.

“The number of arrivals was up a little, but the number of exams was slightly down,” Nadeau said. “We attribute that to the Qualship 21 and E-Zero program.” Over 2,000 vessels are enrolled in Qualship 21, and 54 qualify for E-Zero certificates. Another 105 vessels would be eligible if not for ballast water management extensions.

Nadeau spent a few minutes addressing questions and comments from attendees about detention appeals. Any party can dispute the validity of a detention and the process is outlined in 46 CFR 1.03. In 2018, 36 appeals were submitted. Of those, 21 challenged the merits of the detention and 15 contested the association. In total, the Coast Guard granted 12 appeals, denied 11, and 13 are still under review.

“There are no repercussions for filing an appeal,” Nadeau said. “Don’t hesitate if you think we got it wrong. Every appeal is reviewed at three levels – the Sector, the District, and Headquarters – to make sure we’re being consistent.”

Nadeau then briefly discussed ballast water management compliance and the Coast Guard’s recent decision to reconsider interpretation of “next scheduled drydocking” with regard to 33 CFR 151 Subparts C and D. In March, the Office of Operating and Environmental Standards published a blog post providing additional guidance on what constitutes entry into drydock and the end of an extension period.

Coast Guard marine inspectors performed 8,140 BWM compliance exams in 2018. Of those, at least 119 resulted in deficiencies, which suggests a significant decrease in deficiencies compared to 2017. Compliance is improving, but Nadeau explained that some of this reduction is likely attributed to a change to the form used by the Coast Guard to capture the data.

Last year there were six type approved systems,” Nadeau said. “This year there are 16 and we have 10 more under review or seeking additional approval. These systems represent three different types of technologies so there is a larger menu of options for you to choose from.”

Nadeau said the majority of BWM deficiencies were for inoperable systems. He emphasized that it is the owners/operators’ responsibility to understand how to operate the equipment and that the systems are not “plug and play.”

“We try to be reasonable and recognize [the BWM system] may not work despite all good faith efforts of the crew,” Nadeau said. “In that case, your best bet is to notify the Captain of the Port and explain the situation. Notify us early so we can work with you while you’re still offshore. Don’t wait until you’re at the pier.”

Nadeau then gave an overview of the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act recently signed into law. Under VIDA, the EPA will set the performance standards for pollution control devices and the Coast Guard will promulgate implementation, compliance and enforcement standards for the devices. The standards must be at least as stringent as the existing standards. In the meantime, the expired 2013 Vessel General Permit will stay in place.

To end the meeting, Nadeau briefly talked about the IMO 2020 global Sulfur cap.

“The Coast Guard is not seeking to delay or rollback the Jan. 1, 2020 implementation,” he said. “We recognize that industry needs certainty from regulators. Transparent and consistent enforcement is also critical.”

Nadeau said the Coast Guard has put forth proposals with others at IMO to enhance data collection related to Annex VI/Reg. 18 reporting. The proposed changes are to make it possible to capture fuel availability and quality issues, so that port states and other stakeholders have relevant information available to help increase compliance and inform appropriate enforcement actions in instances of non-compliance. This information sharing and transparency will help maintain a “level playing field.”

“At MEPC 74, we’ll be discussing guidelines, safety issues, and safety practices,” Nadeau said. “I’m confident that we can come up with practical solutions.”

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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