US regulators have issued guidance to help simplify marine casualty reporting compliance for shipowners and operators.
In its Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular 01-15, the US Coast Guard noted that due to the complexity of marine casualty reporting and inconsistent enforcement, “additional guidance to clarify these requirements would benefit both coastguard field commanders and the marine industry.”
The circular emphasises that marine casualties are defined as events involving a vessel that includes, but is not limited to, falls overboard, injuries, and deaths. It also applies to any incident involving a vessel that results in grounding, stranding, collision, explosion or fire, as well as vessel failures that impair any aspect of a vessel’s operation, components, or cargo.
Reporting requirements apply to all foreign-flagged commercial vessels that experience such a casualty or accident while operating in US navigable waters (the territorial sea out to 12 nm).
Incidents must be reported to the US Coast Guard immediately, and be followed with written reports. Incidents that occur beyond the territorial sea (out more than 12 nm) on vessels bound for a US port may also require that the vessel operator notify the coastguard.
In addition, owners or operators of tankers operating outside the US navigable waters, but within the exclusive economic zone (extending out 200 nm), must also report immediately to the coastguard any oil spill or probable spill “involving significant harm to the environment” that results from damage to the vessel.