News Archives from 12-27-2011 to 2-16-2012

Western Alaska Alternative Planning Criteria Plan Approved . . . Feb 16, 2012

On February 2, 2012, the U.S. Coast Guard approved an Alternative Planning Criteria (APC) for compliance with the OPA 90 requirements in 33 CFR Part 155 for tank vessels operating in Western Alaska west of Cook Inlet. This APC was proposed to the Coast Guard by the Marine Exchange on behalf of tank vessels that transit Alaskan waters of the Bering, Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The proposal was made because full compliance with the OPA 90 requirements of 33 CFR Part 155 would be cost prohibitive for the small number of vessels that are affected due to the limited capabilities for response in the Aleutians and arctic areas of the state. The APC provides that tank vessels operating in these areas achieve the alternative compliance by instituting operational practices such as offshore routing, advance notice of intent to transit to the Coast Guard, participating in a vessel tracking and monitoring program, and funding of enhanced response and prevention capabilities such as emergency towing systems and pollution response equipment to be staged in the area. More information on the Alternative Planning Criteria is available from the documents linked below.

Alternative Planning Criteria Summary and Description

U.S. Coast Guard Approval of Alternative Planning Criteria

Original Complete Proposal for Alternative Planning Criteria

STCW Guidance Published . . . Jan 05, 2012

The US Coast Guard issued guidance to covered US-flag vessels for implementing the 2010 amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978 relating to hours of rest and security-related training. The 2010 amendments expanded application of hours of work and rest periods for mariners to include all personnel with designated safety, prevention of pollution, and security duties onboard any vessel; changed the weekly rest hours requirements from 70 hours to 77 hours; and required the recording of hours of rest. US-flag vessels operating in foreign ports should ensure that all personnel, other than the vessel security officer (VSO), are in possession of an appropriate course completion certificate or company letter of proof showing compliance with federal regulatory requirements and Section 13 of the ISPS Code. VSOs must hold the appropriate endorsement on their credential. This guidance comes into effect immediately and will remain in effect until replaced by regulations implementing the 2010 STCW amendments. See Federal Register Notice linked below.

Federal Register Notice

USCG Relaxes TWIC Requirements for Certain Mariners . . . Dec 27, 2011

The U.S. Coast Guard announced that it was relaxing the requirements to hold a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) for certain mariners who work on vessels which are not required to hold a security plan. Complete details and guidance on the relaxation of these rules are found in the documents linked below.

Federal Register Notice

Coast Guard Policy Letter

TWIC Exemption Guidance

NOAA Seeking Comment on Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Arctic . . . Dec 27, 2011

NOAA is seeking public comment on a draft environmental impact statement describing how offshore oil and gas activities in the U.S. Beaufort and Chukchi seas could affect marine mammals and the Alaska Native communities that depend on them for subsistence. The document also examines measures to lessen potential effects. Complete details can be found by following the link below.

Link to NOAA DEIS Press Release