- Domestic Vessels

Overview of regulations governing High Interest Vessel (HIV) selection and boarding

Submitted by the Office of Maritime Security Response Policy

This blog post discusses the process by which vessels may receive a security boarding prior to entering a U.S. port.

The Ports and Waterways Safety Authority, 46 U.S.C. Chapter 700, as implemented in Title 33 CFR, Part 160, requires certain vessels to provide a Notice of Arrival (NOA) to the Coast Guard’s National Vessel Movement Center (NVMC) prior to entering into the navigable waters of the United States, or to any port or place under the jurisdiction of the United States. The information provided via the NOA comprises a portion of the information that is used by the Coast Guard to evaluate the safety, security, or environmental risks the vessel may pose.  Additionally, the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA), 46 U.S.C. Chapter 701, requires the Coast Guard to evaluate the effectiveness of anti-terrorism measures in foreign ports and provides for the imposition of conditions of entry on vessels, regardless of flag state, arriving to the United States from countries that do not maintain effective anti-terrorism measures. 

Based on an evaluation of this and several other criteria, a vessel may be selected to receive an offshore High Interest Vessel (HIV) security boarding prior to entering the United States. The offshore HIV security boarding criteria is continually evaluated and updated.  A Captain of the Port (COTP) order will be placed on vessels that requires them to remain offshore until a Coast Guard security boarding has been completed.

The Coast Guard is sensitive to impacts and delays to maritime commerce and aims to conduct these boardings with minimal disruption to a vessel’s schedule whenever possible.  Coast Guard boarding teams will make every effort to conduct these security boardings prior to a vessel embarking a pilot for further transit to a U.S. port or place of destination.  However, at times and where appropriate, recurrent boardings will occur based on a combination of risk factors for each vessel.

Additionally, mariners have inquired about their enrollment in the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT).  This is a voluntary initiative, led by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and focused on supply chains. It is not a factor in Coast Guard HIV targeting processes. Questions regarding this program should be directed to your local CBP office.

Further questions from mariners regarding Coast Guard security boardings should be directed to their local Captain of the Port.

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 publications, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These publications remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard