CG Amendments Subject of Hearing

Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Legislation to amend and improve laws relating to the U.S. Coast Guard and maritime transportation will be the subject of a Congressional hearing on Thursday.

The legislation, the Coast Guard Amendments of 2005, has not yet been introduced in the U.S. House.

The hearing by the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, chaired by U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 12th in 2167 Rayburn House Office Building. A live webcast of the hearing will be available at the Committee’s website:

www.house.gov/transportation

Mr. Calvin M. Lederer, Deputy Judge Advocate General of the United States Coast Guard, will testify at Thursday’s hearing.

The legislation includes the following provisions:

Section 101 redefines “navigable waters of the United States” to include territorial waters out to 12 nautical miles from shore, for the purposes of establishing zones to protect the safety and security of naval vessels.

Section 102 authorizes the Commandant of the Coast Guard to conduct international training and to provide technical assistance to international navies, coast guards and maritime authorities during regular Coast Guard operations without requiring a specific request from a third party U.S. Government agency.

Section 103 authorizes the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating (Secretary) to waive time in grade requirements for junior and mid-grade officers to ensure that all officers are considered for promotion earlier than is currently possible under title 14.

Section 104 authorizes the Secretary to appoint the United States Coast Guard Band Director at a rank commensurate with the person’s experience and training, rather than requiring the Director to be appointed as a junior officer.

Section 105 authorizes the Secretary to award consolidated design-build contracts using a one-step turn-key selection procedure similar to the authority provided to the Department of Defense.

Section 106 authorizes the Secretary to order Coast Guard Reservists to active duty, for not more than sixty days in any four-month period and not more than one hundred-twenty days in any two-year period, to augment Coast Guard active duty forces to prevent and protect against a transportation security incident or terrorist attack.

Section 107 links Coast Guard Reserve officer authorization levels to active duty officer authorization levels for junior and mid-grade officers in order to properly distribute the numbers of Reserve officers in those grades. The proposal would also make clear that Reserve officers in an active status are counted only against the Reserve component strength.

Section 108 authorizes the Coast Guard to cover personal motorized vehicles of members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, in limited circumstances, under Coast Guard claims procedures.

Section 109 requires the Secretary to develop regulations to award Coast Guard History Fellowships to graduate students who agree to prepare their PhD dissertations on issues related to the history of the Coast Guard.

Section 110 prevents the Commandant from transferring Coast Guard headquarters to the St. Elizabeths Hospital complex in Southeast Washington, DC until funding is made available to construct an entrance to the complex from Interstate 295 and other Federal tenants have committed to occupy office space on the complex.

Section 201 amends the definition of “passenger vessel” and “small passenger vessel” to include ferries that carry passengers with or without charge.

Section 202 requires the Secretary to detail adequate personnel to assure that Great Lakes pilotage rates are adjusted annually.

Section 203 amends Section 70119 of title 46, United States Code, to assess a civil penalty for each day an owner/operator remains non-compliant with maritime transportation security regulations beyond the first day on which the violation was cited.

Section 204 amends the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (Jones Act) to clarify that the transport of an anchor, including the moving of, setting of, or change of location of such anchor, for an offshore oil rig by a vessel between two points in the United States qualifies as coastwise trade.

Section 205 amends the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act (MDLEA) to allow the Coast Guard to certify a foreign nation’s response to an inquiry of a vessel’s nationality without requiring the Coast Guard and Department of Justice to produce live witness testimony when certification is clearly warranted and sufficient.

Section 206 requires the Secretary of Transportation to develop a program to promote the transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by the maritime transportation sector. The section also amends the Deepwater Port Act to direct the Secretary to prioritize the processing of licenses for LNG facilities that would be supplied by U.S.-flagged LNG vessels.

Section 301 transfers jurisdiction over lands associated with 4 U.S. Coast Guard lighthouses in the State of Alaska to the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating.

Section 302 authorizes the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating to transfer administrative jurisdiction of the land adjacent to Tree Point Light Station in the State of Alaska to the Secretary of Agriculture upon determination that use of the property is no longer necessary for navigational purposes.

Section 303 clarifies the boundaries of the land that was conveyed with the Cape St. Elias Light Station under section 416(a)(2) of Public Law 105-383.

Section 401 authorizes the Secretary to carry out a pilot program to establish a Coast Guard junior reserve officers training program.

Section 402 authorizes the Secretary to convey a decommissioned Coast Guard cutter to CAS Foundation, Inc., a non-profit corporation in the State of Indiana.

Section 403 directs the Secretary to carry out a pilot program to demonstrate long-range vessel tracking systems pursuant to 46 U.S.C. 70115. The section also authorizes an amount of $4 million in fiscal year 2006 to carry out the pilot project.

Section 404 requires the Secretary to review and report to Congress on the adequacy of air and surface assets in three locations (Louisiana, Michigan, and Puerto Rico) to carry out the Coast Guard’s traditional missions.

Section 405 authorizes cadets at the Merchant Marine Academy to train aboard foreign-flagged liquid natural gas (LNG) vessels if the Secretary determines that such training is in the interest of the United States. Currently, cadets at the Academy are prohibited from training aboard foreign-flagged vessels; however there are no U.S.-flagged LNG vessels in operation.

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