Page 13: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (October 2019)

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INSIGHTS: GOVERNMENT UPDATE authorized to perform all the functions delayed the review and approval of 220 over-committed and under-staffed. It Due to personnel shortages, these provided for in the TSMS program on courses. It took the NMC until August is forced to rely heavily on non-Coast backstop checks are often not performed behalf of the Coast Guard. 2019 to fully recover from the lapse in Guard personnel to perform many of its with the frequency and thoroughness re- funding. The NVDC is still struggling to important missions. For example, vessel quired.

Streamlined Inspection Program eliminate the backlog. As a result, vessel inspections performed by third-parties The time is long overdue for Congress

In response to the Maritime Regulato- documentation paperwork is not being are supposed to be regularly checked by to fund and staff the Coast Guard at lev- ry Reform Initiative, the Coast Guard in- processed in a timely manner. Coast Guard personnel for completeness els commensurate with the taskings it stituted the Streamlined Inspection Pro- In my opinion, the US Coast Guard is and accuracy. has assigned to this venerable service.

gram (SIP). SIP is an alternative process for ensuring compliance with applicable vessel inspection regulations. Person- nel of the owning or operating company conduct frequent, periodic examinations of the various vessel systems, document their ? ndings, and take necessary cor- rective actions speci? ed in the Coast

Guard-approved plans when discrepan- cies are discovered. The Coast Guard will still conduct required inspections of the vessel(s); however the manner of conducting such inspections will be con- siderably different.


Due to the minimal funding of the US

Coast Guard, coupled with limits on its authorized personnel strength, the ser- vice of necessity has adopted a variety of tactics to achieve its wide-spread and ever-growing missions. A number of these tactics are discussed above. Still, they are insuf? cient to allow all assigned missions to be performed in a timely and ef? cient manner.

While high-priority missions such as search and rescue (SAR), law en- forcement (LE), and aids to navigation (ATON) are largely completed as as- signed, others then to suffer. Of note, there are serious shortfalls with regard to merchant mariner documentation and vessel documentation.

During the lapse in funding for the federal government that extended from 22 December 2018 through 25 January 2019, non-essential functions of the fed- eral agencies ceased to be performed.

Among the Coast Guard functions that were halted were those of the National

Maritime Center (NMC) which process- es merchant mariner documents and the

National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC).

Both of these units are operated with the minimum number of personnel necessary for routine workloads. With those activities halted for over a month, the backlog grew enormously. A recent

Senate report documents that the shut- down delayed the review and approval of 11,000 merchant mariner creden- tials, halted the testing and approval of nearly 650 mariner examinations, and 13

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