Page 27: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (November 2014)

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Read this page in Pdf, Flash or Html5 edition of November 2014 Maritime Reporter Magazine 27 if it does, however, the CR is likely to be extended into next year, leaving speci? c budget decisions with a new Congress.

The Coast Guard Authorization Bill

As is typical, the House passed its ver- sion of the Coast Guard Authorization bill earlier in the year on April 1, 2014 (H.R. 4005). The Committee on Com- merce, Science, and Transportation in- troduced its version, S. 2444, on June 5, 2014. Despite repeated attempts by this Committee to move S. 2444, how- ever, no other action was taken on the bill prior to the latest recess because of

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman

Jay Rockefeller’s desire to incorporate language to increase federal oversight of cruise passenger protections against the vehement objections of the cruise industry. The following is a discussion of some of the key provisions in the two versions of the Coast Guard Authoriza- tion Act.

The House bill would extend assis- tance to small shipyards through 2016; allow third-party classi? cation societ- ies to issue certi? cates of inspection, or any other certi? cates issued by the Coast

Guard, to offshore supply vessels; man- date that vessels built to operate in cold waters be equipped with survival craft to ensure that no part of an individual is immersed in water; require that 75 percent of food aid cargo must be car- ried on vessels owned by U.S. citizens, thereby restoring the cut that took place in last year’s Defense Authorization bill; and would require a report on the effect liquid natural gas exports would have on

U.S. job creation.

The Senate bill would mandate the

Coast Guard to publish a ? nal rule on

Automatic Identi? cation Systems (AIS), which would have to be consistent with existing statutory provisions on vessel operations, and create a permitting pro- cess to allow a vessel traf? c information service to use AIS to transmit navigation and safety information to vessels; man- date the federal government to provide notice of marine casualties to state and tribal government of? cials; create a fund to ensure the protection and fair treat- ment of seafarers during investigations; mandate the Coast Guard to publish all written incident plans within 12 hours of an oil spill; and require vessel response plans for Mobile Offshore Drilling Units to incorporate information for a planned response to a worst-case discharge from its response plan.

One key topic addressed by both bills is the treatment of foreign seafarers that have been abandoned in the U.S. or are required to remain in the U.S. to appear as witnesses at Coast Guard or other criminal enforcement proceedings. The

Coast Guard has been advocating for this legislation for some time and it is now included in both versions of the bill. The concept is to provide, through a system of payments paid into a new Abandoned

Seafarers’ Fund established in the Trea- sury, for the care of seafarers who have been abandoned in the U.S. by their ship owners and operators, or who have to re- main in the U.S. as witnesses to potential federal crimes. The Fund is funded in the

House bill by penalties assessed against ship owners for violations of the Act to

Prevent Pollution from Ships. The Sen- ate bill has a broader payment scheme but, in contrast to the House bill, allows for the provision of a bond or surety by a vessel owner in lieu of detaining a vessel in port.

Key Hearings on the Arctic and the Merchant Marine

The House Coast Guard and Mari- time Transportation Subcommittee held hearings on the Arctic and the State of the Merchant Marine on July 23, 2014, and September 10, 2014, respectively.

The focus of the Arctic hearing was on the Coast Guard’s role in implementing the National Strategy for the Arctic Re- gion and whether other agencies would contribute to the cost of a new polar icebreaker. It is highly unlikely other agencies would assist in such funding and this topic remains controversial par- ticularly in view of the world focus on marine transportation in the Arctic and the role the U.S. will play in this region.

With regard to the merchant marine hearing, much of the focus was on the impact of food aid and other cargo cuts on the U.S. ? ag-? eet. The hearing also discussed legislation introduced by






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