CG Issues Final Rule, Crewmember ID Docs

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Coast Guard issued a final rule on April 28, 2009 that requires each crewmember on a foreign flag commercial vessel en route to the U.S., or on a U.S. flag commercial vessel coming from a foreign port or place to the U.S., to carry and present acceptable identification when in the navigable waters of the United States (i.e. internal waters and within 12 miles of the shoreline). The final rule can be found at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-9634.pdf and is effective May 28, 2009.

As a means to alleviate security concerns, Section 102 of the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA) required that all crewmembers possess acceptable identification when calling at U.S. ports. On May 14, 2008, the Coast Guard issued its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to implement this requirement. The following is a link to our previous advisory that discussed the provisions of the NPRM: http://www.blankrome.com/siteFiles/Publications/A95202F8B601308506AE797424D42E95.pdf.

After receiving comments, the Coast Guard issued this final rule to implement the MTSA requirements relating to crewmember identification documents. The Coast Guard will now require crewmembers to carry and present on demand acceptable identification when the vessel is in U.S. navigable waters. Vessel owners and operators are required to ensure that crewmembers comply with these requirements. Failure to comply with these new requirements will subject a crewmember, owner, or operator to a civil penalty of $25,000 for each day of violation up to $50,000, or action by the Coast Guard to control the vessel.

The Coast Guard proposed the following forms of acceptable identification in the NPRM:
• Passport
• U.S. Permanent Resident Card
• U.S. Merchant Mariner’s Document
• Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC), or
• Seafarer’s Identification Document (SID) issued by or under the authority of the government of a country that has ratified the International Labour Organization Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention (Revised), 2003 (ILO 185)

The Final Rule has made some changes to the NPRM and clarified the list of acceptable forms of identification. The following highlights some of those changes and clarifications.

Seamen’s Books
Seamen’s books issued by foreign governments under the Seafarer’s Identity Document Convention, 1958 (ILO 108), are not acceptable forms of crewmember identification under this new rule. The Coast Guard will only accept an SID issued in accordance with ILO 185 or a passport from foreign crewmembers, unless the crewmembers are able to present a U.S. permanent resident card or TWIC.

U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Workers
A location on the OCS is not considered a foreign port or place. Therefore, workers on the OCS do not need to obtain any additional identification documents other than what they are already required to possess to work on the OCS.

New Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) Applicability
The Coast Guard has recently consolidated U.S. merchant mariner credentials into a single credential known as the MMC. The Coast Guard has now confirmed that the MMC is added to the list of acceptable crewmember identification.

Force Majeure Exception
The NPRM stated that requirements of the rule would not be “enforced against crewmembers and operators on a vessel bound for a U.S. port or place of destination under a claim of force majeure.” To clarify its intentions, the Coast Guard has revised the rule to state that the requirements of this rule will not apply to such crewmembers and operators.

Vessel owners, operators, and crewmembers should ensure that they are in compliance with this new rule prior to May 28, 2009.

(Source: Blank Rome)

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