The domestic passenger vessel industry has a long history of safe operations. This achievement is the result of good training and just plain hard work. It is also the result of a strong working relationship with Coast Guard inspectors.

While we do not always agree with the Coast Guard, like us, they are committed to maintaining safety for both passengers and crew. So, what is the next step in taking passenger vessel safety to the next level?

For several years the Passenger Vessel Association (PVA) has been working on a voluntary safety management system (SMS) program called Flagship. The Coast Guard has been a part of this effort, taking part in planning sessions and review-ing and contributing to the development of the program’s guidelines. Flagship will be tailored for passenger vessel operators and will be scalable to fit virtually any size operation. It is a coordinated, comprehensive set of processes that facilitate optimal management of safety and environmental operations and mitigate risk.  

In developing the program, PVA hopes to get ahead of potential regulation and ensure that the passenger vessel industry has access to an SMS designed for the domestic fleet, and not mirror international SMS requirements.

We must maintain our distance from international regulations. The U.S. passenger vessel fleet is clearly different from the international fleet. Thus, imposing international standards on us is a big mistake. Here in the U.S., we have time-tested regulations and a strong and knowledgeable Coast Guard. Flagship fits nicely into our long tradition of working together with the Coast Guard. I cannot say the same for many international operators and governments around the world.

I am a big proponent of Flagship because it will allow many passenger vessel operators to painlessly implement SMS. Flagship will also permit us to elevate safety to the next level in voluntary cooperation with the Coast Guard.

Accidents do happen, so we owe it to ourselves, our passengers and our crews to keep moving forward and never take safety for granted.


The views and opinions expressed in this blog are the author's and not necessarily those of WorkBoat.


A collection of stories from guest authors.