A new law that improves maritime safety, improves living conditions for Coast Guard members, assists the ongoing replacement of the service’s aging fleet and bolsters maritime and port security was signed into law Friday by President Barack Obama.
"The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 provides us with authority to enhance the safety of U.S. ports and waterways, acquisition assistance to acquire state-of-the-art ships and aircraft to patrol America's waters, and tools to promote individual readiness, including improvements to our family housing and child development centers," said Adm. Bob Papp, commandant, U.S. Coast Guard, adding, "I am particularly pleased with the modernization authority — it will allow us to finish our organizational realignment and enhance our ability to meet the high demand for our services."
Key provisions of the new law include:
• Policies that will support the execution of the maritime safety and security missions.
• Increased criminal penalties for vessel operators who fail to heave to, especially in cases involving the smuggling of drugs or illegal migrants.
• Promulgation and clarification of commercial fishing vessel safety standards.
• New authority to sell Coast Guard-owned property and use the resulting funds to purchase and build improved housing for military members and their families.
• Policy and procedures that formalize existing acquisition program processes and mandate minimum training and experience standards for acquisition staff.
Other major sections of the law improve or affect shipping and navigation, marine safety, oil pollution prevention, port security and benefits for Coast Guard personnel.
The law also allows the President to designate up to four positions of importance and responsibility to be held by vice admirals, in addition to the vice commandant, and removes language linking the rank of these vice admirals to specific positions, creating more flexibility in how senior leadership is organized within the service.
A full version of the law can be found online at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/signed-legislation