If rough seas have you sliding around your bunk like a wet noodle, nothing will put you to sleep faster than reading through a legislative act. However, the one exception may be the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act. It appears on the scene each spring, loaded with important information that can affect anyone who works in the marine industry.
The Act’s purpose is to make monetary appropriations to the Coast Guard and correcting laws administered by the agency. Frankly, paging through the Act is a little bit like looking at a restaurant menu: you get to see what is and isn’t being offered. It’s always clear after reading the Act each year that some in the maritime field will be pleased with the menu, and others will not.
This year, the Act was sent to committee to resolve various internal disputes. Without getting caught in those procedural waters, the committee’s report will most likely be adopted by the House and Senate without change and become law. Based on a review of the recently released committee report, there are a lot of issues that will affect those in the maritime field.
For instance, if you work with anchors for mobile offshore drilling units that work on the outer continental shelf or if you’re transporting merchandise or personnel to MODUs, you’d better check your vessel’s flag state because the committee report proposes to amend a statute to require that only U.S.-flagged vessels engage in such activities. In addition, U.S.-flagged freighters may now be permitted to have foreign citizens aboard as riding gangs to perform maintenance under certain circumstances.
The committee also addressed, among other things, continued funding of the Loran-C system to the tune of $25 million over the next two years, the duration of licenses issued to merchant mariners located in certain states affected by Hurricane Katrina, and the limits of liability for oil spills.
So keep up with what’s going on and read the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act.