Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS), the world’s leading maritime services provider, is advising of foreign vessel casualty reporting requirements following a $75,000 penalty assessment by the US Coast Guard against a cargo vessel for failure to immediately report a marine casualty.
The regulations require immediate notification of reportable casualties to the US Coast Guard (USCG), with a subsequent written notification on ‘Report of Marine Accident, Injury or Death’ form CG-2692 within five days. The USCG penalised vessel had experienced a failure of its main engine and had not reported the casualty for more than 10 hours.
Under the requirements, foreign vessels have to report casualties that occur in the navigable waters of the U.S. (12 NM from baseline), its territories or possessions, or whenever an accident involves a U.S vessel. U.S vessels also have to meet the regulations.
Further regulations also advise that foreign vessels carrying oil in bulk as cargo, or as cargo residue may have to report certain casualties that occur in waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction, including Exclusive Economic Zone (see 46 USC 6101(d)2). Also foreign vessels are subject to the same penalties for failure to report.
Failure to report a bona fide casualty may result in a civil penalty ($25,000 max.) against the vessel owner, operator, master or person in charge of the vessel and/or Action of misconduct against a U.S. issued license or document for violation of a regulation.
ISS is also advising of requirements regarding notification to the USCG of Hazardous Conditions following the USCG siting a decision by the US Court of Appeals that reinstated a jury verdict that found that a crew’s failure to immediately report a hazardous condition to the USCG amounted to a criminal violation of the US Ports and Waterways Safety Act and the importance of its regulatory requirements.
Under US regulatory requirements Regulation 33 CFR 160.204 defines a hazardous condition as: “Any condition that may adversely affect the safety of any vessel, bridge, structure, or shore area or the environmental quality of any port, harbour, or navigable waterway of the United States. It may, but need not, involve collision, fire, explosion, grounding, leaking, damage, injury or illness of a person aboard, or manning-shortage.”
Regulation 33 CFR 160.215 also requires that “Whenever there is a hazardous condition either aboard a vessel or caused by a vessel or its operation, the owner, agent, master, operator, or person in charge shall immediately notify the nearest Coast Guard Sector Office or Group Office.” The initial report should be made either by VHF radio or by telephone.
If the hazardous condition is also a reportable “marine casualty”, the initial report has to be followed up with a written report within five days as required under regulation 46 CFR 4.05-10. It is deemed that a negligent failure to report a hazardous condition immediately may result in civil penalties being impose, while a wilful or knowing failure to make such a report may result in criminal charges being brought against the Master and the company. If found guilty, the penalties may include a criminal fine of up to $250,000, a prison sentence of up to six years or a term of probation of up to five years.
The USCG recommends that Agents should ensure that all vessel Masters are aware that they must report any hazardous condition to the USCG immediately while in US territorial waters and of the consequences of failing to do so and the requirement of the need to provide the USCG with a written report within five days of the initial notification if the hazardous condition qualifies as a reportable marine casualty.
If there is any doubt as to whether or not a particular circumstance is a reportable hazardous condition it advises that Masters should report the situation immediately to the nearest USCG Sector Office where the incident occurred for assessment.