Coast Guard clarifies essential maritime workers

The Coast Guard has published Marine Safety Information Bulletin 11-20 (MSIB 11-20) to provide further clarification when determining which Marine Transportation System (MTS) workers are considered essential in regions affected by the coronavirus quarantine and shelter-in-place orders.The uninterrupted flow of commerce is critical to both national security and economic vitality. During the ongoing national emergency, it is paramount that we safeguard the continued operation of the MTS in the face of the acute and evolving threats posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to MSIB 11-20. The MTS, which provides more than 90% of the domestic supply chain, is dependent on an extensive support network made up of workers from both the private and public sectors.

This MSIB should be used to provide further clarification when making determinations regarding which MTS workers are considered essential in regions impacted by Covid-19 quarantine and shelter-in-place orders.

Though not meant to be an exhaustive list, the following personnel are essential for sustaining the continuous flow of maritime commerce:

  • Merchant mariners;
  • Federal and state pilots;
  • Stevedores, longshoremen, and line handlers;
  • Representatives of seafarers’ welfare and labor organizations;
  • Marine consultants, naval architects, marine exchanges, surveyors and shipyard workers;
  • Classification society and recognized organization surveyors and auditors;
  • Vessel owners, operators, shipping agents and marine dispatchers;
  • Technical representatives and contractors;
  • Bridge operators and bridge repair personnel;
  • Lock and dam operators and workers;
  • Lighthouse servicing and repair personnel;
  • Commercial barge fleeting facility personnel;
  • Equipment, cargo, crane and dredging operators;
  • Truck drivers, launch/tug/towing operators and other intermodal transportation workers;
  • Vendors and ship chandlers providing ship services, husbandry and provisions;
  • Federal and state agency personnel (e.g., Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Army Corps of Engineers, local health and safety organizations)


In addition to the examples above, this MSIB has some select sections from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) guidance memo (see below). Though not exhaustive these are examples of where essential MTS workers may be found in the memo. Information in bold has been added by the Coast Guard to this MSIB for further clarification.


  • Employees supporting or enabling transportation functions, including truck drivers, bus drivers, dispatchers, maintenance and repair technicians, warehouse workers, truck stop and rest area workers, and workers that maintain and inspect infrastructure (including those that require cross-jurisdiction travel)
  • Maritime transportation workers – port workers, mariners, equipment operators – To clarify this includes port and facility security personnel and other port authority and commercial facility personnel.
  • Employees who repair and maintain vehicles, aircraft, rail equipment, marine vessels, and the equipment and infrastructure that enables operations that encompass movement of cargo and passengers
  • Employees supporting or enabling transportation functions, including dispatchers, maintenance and repair technicians, warehouse workers, truck stop and rest area workers, and workers that maintain and inspecting infrastructure (including those that require cross-border travel)



  • Petroleum product storage, pipeline, marine transport, terminals, rail transport, road transport
  • Crude oil storage facilities, pipeline, and marine transport
  • Petroleum refinery facilities
  • Retail fuel centers such as gas stations and truck stops, and the distribution systems that support them



  • Workers who support hazardous materials response and cleanup – To clarify this includes Oil Spill Removal Organizations and salvage and marine firefighting response companies. Additionally, this includes response and cleanup of petroleum products.



  • Workers necessary for the manufacturing of materials and products needed for medical supply chains, and for supply chains associated with transportation, energy, communications, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing, nuclear facilities, the operation of dams, water and wastewater treatment, emergency services, and the defense industrial base. Additionally, workers needed to maintain the continuity of these manufacturing functions and associated supply chains.



Workers performing security, incident management, and emergency operations functions at or on behalf of healthcare entities including healthcare coalitions, who cannot practically work remotely – To clarify this includes maritime specific medical providers who meet shipboard medical needs for maritime crews.

Many MTS workers have a federal Transportation Worker Identification Card (TWIC) that may be used to confirm their MTS nexus. However, many others in the support framework will not have specific maritime identification or may be in the process of applying for a TWIC card. In any cases where there is a question, state officials are highly encouraged to ask their local Coast Guard Captain of the Port to confirm whether the worker is essential to MTS operations.

Questions about this bulletin should be directed to


  1. Avatar
    Patrick egan on

    What about Staten Island ferry workers Deck hands Captains mates We normally transport 80000 passengers A-day
    To and from Staten Island
    To New York City
    1st responders. Doctors nurses
    Police firemen All use
    We should be deemed 1st responders . And essential
    Thank you

    • David Krapf

      I believe all merchant mariners are deemed essential. They are the first personnel listed in MSIB 11-20.

  2. Avatar
    Concerned captain on

    The company I work for in St Petersburg Florida is a small dolphin watching snorkeling vessel. The GM has made a conscious decision not to shut the business down but to only allow no less than four passengers and no more than six what’s the vessel holes due to the fact that it is an uninspected vessel. People come from all around the United States as well as around the world on our boats. As one of the Captain’s I have made a conscious choice to stay off of the helm for the next 30 days to protect myself and others. I don’t feel that running the ferry at this time is in the best interest of my guest’s or the master of the vessel. This may cost me my job what sacrifices have to be made for the good of all I only wish the general manager would take the proper measures.

  3. Avatar
    Alan marshall on

    Thank you for your posting of classification of essential workers of the Maritime industry, I am a Merchant Mariner with Sailors union of the Pacific.

    • David Krapf

      You are very welcome. Our goal during this crisis is to disseminate as much information as possible to the maritime community.

      • Avatar

        I am a private citizen living on the water with my personal 25ft Boat in my back yard. Are you telling me I cannot take my family who had been following all directions of social distancing etc… out on the bay to go fishing?

Leave A Reply

© Diversified Communications. All rights reserved.