The Coast Guard established its first Cruise Ship Center of Expertise (COE) in Miami Sept. 30. This is the first in a series of Centers of Expertise that will be located throughout the country. Each Center of Expertise will focus on a specific segment of the maritime industry. The COE in Miami will focus on the cruise ship industry.
The selection of Miami as a site for this important Center was logical since Miami has long been considered the cruise capital of the world. The cruise ship industry is an important growing industry in the U.S. According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) more than 9 million passengers sailed from U.S. ports in 2006 and the industry directly employs approximately 34,000 U.S. residents paying them a wage income of $1.2 billion.
It is envisioned that the Miami COE will be the focal point for developing and maintaining highly skilled Coast Guard personnel and others in cruise ship operations and examinations. As part of its responsibilities, the COE will administer a six-day course to train Coast Guard cruise ship inspectors on examination requirements of cruise ships for safety, security and environmental protection requirements. This training includes both classroom and shipboard training. The COE is also expected to provide support to other Coast Guard commands across the country and overseas responsible for examining cruise ships and maintain close liaison and outreach with industry and government stakeholders.
The Center of Expertise concept is one of several initiatives included in the Coast Guard's Marine Safety Performance Plan that establishes what the Marine Safety Program intends to achieve during the next five years to keep pace with the maritime industry's growth and needs.