The day before Thanksgiving the U.S. Coast Guard issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register in regards to vessels “conducting activities with dynamic positioning systems.” In the name of safety, “the Coast Guard proposes to establish minimum design, operation, training, and manning standards for mobile offshore drilling units (MODUs) and other vessels using dynamic positioning systems to engage in Outer Continental Shelf activities,” the NPRM says.

There’s something about the holidays that inspires Coast Guard rule makers. On Christmas Eve last year, they issued a Final Rule for new STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) rules.

As for the DP proposed rule, Richard Wells, vice president with the Offshore Marine Service Association which represents offshore service vessel operators, is not getting that warm, holiday feeling from it. “If it goes through the way it is, we have a real problem with it,” he said, explaining that the rule makers refer to DP-2 equipment and its operators throughout the document. “A good chunk of our fleet [in the Gulf of Mexico] are running DP-1,” he said. “What about them?”

Wells said he expects a long road ahead for the Coast Guard in turning the new DP NPRM into a Final Rule. “I would not even try to hazard a guess" as to a timeline, he said.

Comments and related material have to be submitted to the online docket by Feb. 26, 2015. For those who want to use a fax, you can send your comments to 202-493-2251. For mail or hand delivery, the address is Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20590-0001.

Happy Holidays… 

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.