Coast Guard issues final rule on lifesaving devices

Effective Oct. 10, 2014, uninspected commercial barges and sailing vessels must carry lifesaving devices even if these vessels are not carrying passengers for hire, according to a Coast Guard final rule published last week in the Federal Register. 

The Coast Guard is aligning its regulations with the 2010 Coast Guard Authorization Act. Before 2010, certain uninspected commercial vessels including barges and sailing vessels fell outside the scope of the statute requiring the Coast Guard to regulate lifesaving devices on uninspected vessels. Lifesaving devices were required on such uninspected commercial vessels only if they carried passengers for hire. The 2010 Act brought all uninspected commercial vessels within the scope of the statutory requirement to carry lifesaving devices even if they carry no passengers for hire.

The effect of the 2010 Act was to bring, for the first time, uninspected non-passenger commercial barges and sailing vessels within the scope of the lifesaving devices requirement. The Coast Guard is now requiring the use of wearable personal flotation devices for individuals on board those vessels, and amending several regulatory tables to reflect that requirement.

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