The Coast Guard Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance has published CG-CVC Policy Letter 23-03, "Covered Small Passenger Vessel Fire Safety Interim Rule Implementation," which clarifies several regulatory changes promulgated in the interim rule titled, "Fire Safety of Small Passenger Vessels," published Dec. 27, 2021.

The interim rule implemented fire safety regulations for “covered small passenger vessels,” defined as small passenger vessels with overnight accommodations for passengers or operating on an oceans or coastwise route, excluding fishing vessels and ferries. In particular, the interim rule eliminated the option for “existing vessels” (as defined in Subchapters K and T) to comply with the means of escape requirements applicable to them on March 10, 1996. Thus, all covered small passenger vessels, regardless of age, are being brought up to current standards for means of escape design and arrangement.

The new policy addresses means of escape, special consideration by the Officer in Charge, Marine Inspection, and excursion permits for covered small passenger vessels.

A copy of CG-CVC Policy Letter 23-03 is available at