Members should be aware that the USCG has increased the marine casualty property damage thresholds for reportable marine casualties that take place in US waters or involve US-flag ships. These changes took effect on 18 April 2018.
Ships are required to notify the USCG immediately of certain 'marine casualties.'
A marine casualty is any incident involving a ship that occurs on navigable waters of the US and/or involves a US ship that results in any of the following: Loss of life, injury (beyond first aid), grounding, bridge allision, main propulsion loss, loss of any component that reduces a ship's maneuverability, an occurrence that affects the ship's seaworthiness (i.e. fire or flooding), property damage in excess of a certain amount, or harm to the environment.
If a 'serious marine incident' occurs, the shipowner is responsible for testing individuals involved in the incident for drugs and alcohol, and the shipowner must provide a 96 hour work/rest history to the USCG.
An incident is deemed serious if it involves, one or more deaths, an injury to a crewmember or passenger, property damage in excess of a certain amount (see below), loss of ship, discharge of oil in excess of 10,000 gallons, or the release of a hazardous substance in excess of a reportable quantity.
The reportable property damage threshold for a marine casualty has been changed from US$25,000 to US$75,000. The reportable property damage threshold for a serious marine incident has also increased from US$100,000 to US$200,000.
The increase in the reporting thresholds will reduce the reporting burden on shipowners and also reduces the amount of USCG resources used to investigate marine incidents.
It is important to note that other marine casualties, such as groundings or fire must still be reported regardless of the property damage cost involved. For example, if the ship has a fire, it does not matter that the property damage is less than US$75,000 as a fire is in itself a reportable marine casualty.
Members who operate US-flag ships or ships that operate in US waters should review the changes in USCG procedures to ensure that all marine casualties are properly reported.