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USCG rule would ensure seafarers' access to maritime facilities

USCG rule would ensure seafarers' access to maritime facilities
The US Coast Guard proposes to require owners and operators of facilities regulated by USCG to provide seafarers and other individuals with access between vessels and the facility gate, in a timely manner and at no cost to the seafarer or other individual.

The Federal Register Monday published a notice of proposed rulemaking by USCG, with public comments due by Feb. 27. A Jan. 23 meeting is planned in Washington, DC, to solicit comments.

Generally, transiting through a facility is the only way a seafarer or other individual can access basic shoreside businesses and services, and meet with family members and other personnel who do not hold a Transportation Worker Identification Credential.

The proposed rule would give facility owners and operators the flexibility to implement a system to provide seafarers' access that is tailored to each facility. In addition, facility owners and operators would be required to amend and document their access procedures in their USCG-approved facility security plans within one year of the publication of the final rule.

In particular, USCG seeks comment on whether one year is an appropriate time frame and whether the proposal provides an appropriately inclusive list of individuals who should be allowed access to a vessel. USCG further seeks comment on whether the approach provides the necessary flexibility for a diverse regulated population to ensure that timely access is reasonable in each case.

Comment is also sought on USCG's estimated non-compliance rate of Maritime Transportation Security Act-regulated facilities with respect to providing seafarers' access and on its cost estimates for the facility security plan amendments and changes to facility operations.