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Pena Announces Vessel Design Compliance Initiatives

Secretary of Transportation Federico Pena announced several initiatives designed to enhance maritime policy reform and has directed the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to execute a four-point program to that end. This is the third element of the administration's shipbuilding initiative and its proposed maritime security program. The initiatives involve vessel design compliance programs and eliminating unnecessary regulations which impede U.S. shipbuilding and operating competitiveness.

Secretary Pena said that the initiatives would in no way jeopardize the safety of passengers, crew or the environment. "These critical safety and environmental goals can be achieved while opening new avenues for U.S. ship builders and ship operators to compete on a global scale," he said.

The four-point program would include: • Establishing compliance op- tions so that instituted a rigorous shing compliance options so that a shipbuilder or owner can rely on classification society standards, rather than specific USCG regulatory requirements. • Accepting regulatory compliance verification by qualified, responsible classification societies and not only from the American Bureau of Shipping which, being the official classification society of the U.S. government, inspects U.S. vessels using USCG construction requirements. • Establishing a model company program whereby the vessels of a be inspected less frequently by the USCG.

• Establishing a USCG Oversight Program to verify the quality management program of participating shipping companies and classification societies.

Provisions are also included to accept certain items of equipment that have been approved by other governments that have approval systems equivalent to the U.S.'s. "The goal is to make the Coast Guard regulatory requirements less burdensome, more efficient and effective for the U.S. maritime industry," Secretary Pena said.

Provisions will be initiated using a voluntary program developed by the USCG in cooperation with the maritime industry. A pilot program begins this month to evaluate the alternative compliance. Volunteers are being solicited for the program and six companies have indicated interest in participating using ships whose Certificates of Inspection are soon to expire.

Secretary Pena urged the shipbuilding and ship operating communities to familiarize themselves with the initiatives and determine how they may enhance their business plans. "These initiatives, taken together with the administration's other maritime reform initiatives, are important steps toward achieving our goal of an internationally competitive U.S. maritime industry," he said.

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