USCG Proposes New Regulations For Small Passenger Vessels

The U.S. Coast Guard recently proposed extensive changes in existing regulations covering small passenger vessels because of new uses for these vessels and advances in design and technology.

The proposed regulations are expected to reduce the number of injuries, lives lost and property damage caused by accidents involving these vessels, primarily by requiring the vessels to carry improved lifesaving equipment, including life raft capacity.

Although newer vessels in this category still meet tonnage requirements for small passenger vessels, they now are larger, made of new materials, carry more passengers, are used for different purposes, and sometimes carry equipment invented since the regulations were written.

There are about 5,000 such vessels operating in the U.S. They include small car-ferries, high-speed passenger ferries, harbor taxis, party and charter fishing boats, tour boats, dinner cruise boats, overnight cruise vessels and offshore oil industry crewboats.

The Coast Guard estimates the average annual cost of the proposed regulations to the small passenger vessels industry at $8.5 million. Existing vessels would have a phase-in period to give them time to add equipment required by the new regulations. Written comments on the proposed regulations will be accepted until the end of May 1989. The proposed regulations were published in the January 30, 1989 issue of the Federal Register. Copies of the proposed regulations may be obtained by writing to: Commandant (GLRA- 2), U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C. 20593- 0001, or by calling (202) 267-1477.

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