Under this rule, each owner or operator of a maritime facility regulated by the Coast Guard is required to implement a system providing seafarers, pilots, and representatives of seamen’s welfare and labor organizations access between vessels moored at the facility and the facility gate, 'in a timely manner and at no cost to the seafarer or other individuals', USCG explained.
The system must be documented in the Facility Security Plan (FSP) on or before 3 February 2020.
The facility owner and operator has 14 months after publication of the final rule (1st April 2019) to implement a system, which is 1st June 2020.
Q1. Does the Seafarer’s Access to Maritime Facilities regulation provide representatives of seafarers welfare and labor organizations access to every facility within the area? Does the regulation alter the facilities’ ability to deny access to a vessel at the facility, or the facility itself?
The purpose of the Seafarers’ Access to Maritime Facilities regulation is to require facilities to provide persons such as “representatives of seafarers’ welfare and labor organizations” a system to board and depart a vessel at the facility. The regulation is not intended to provide unlimited access to all areas on the facility.
Additionally, the regulation does not alter the facility owners/operators’ ability to deny access to the facility, if representatives of seafarers’ welfare or labor organizations, or others, do not have a legitimate purpose for accessing the facility or vessel at the facility.
Q2. If a vessel Master denies access to their vessel, what would be the best way for a facility to document this incident so not to be accused of denying access from the facility gate to the vessel?
The Seafarers’ Access to Maritime Facilities regulation does not require documentation of access denial by the facility or vessel. However, vessel master(s) and facilities are encouraged to document this situation in accordance with their company policy, if applicable.
Q3. Does the Seafarers’ Access to Maritime Facilities regulation permit anyone from an organization that categorizes themselves as a seafarers’ welfare organization to gain access to a facility or vessel at any time?
Individuals covered under this rule must have a legitimate purpose for accessing the vessel at the facility. The regulation does not alter the ability to deny access to a facility or vessel, it only requires the regulated facility to provide a system for seafarers assigned to a vessel at that facility, pilots, and representatives of seafarers’ welfare and labor organizations to board and depart the vessel through the facility in a timely manner and at no cost to the individual.
Q4. What qualifies as a seafarer welfare organization?
The Seafarers’ Access to Maritime Facilities regulation does not define what qualifies as a seafarers’ welfare organization. The Office of Port and Facility Compliance and local Captains of the Port work hand-in-hand with a network of recognized international and domestic groups that are seafarers’ welfare and assistance organizations. The local Captains of the Port and their representatives are familiar with the seafarers’ welfare and assistance organizations within their port(s) and are in the best position to assist.
Q5. Will the Office of Port and Facility Compliance (CG-FAC) provide guidance in regards to the expectations for “timely access” without unreasonable delay?
The Office of Port and Facility Compliance does not anticipate providing additional guidance at this time. The facility owner or operator must consider the conditions listed at 33 CFR 105.237(c) (1) – (5) when establishing timely access, which is subject to review by the Captain of the Port. The COTP and his or her representatives are in a better position to make “timely access” determinations since they are familiar with individual facility operations and port conditions.
Q6. Do barge fleeting facilities, including ones with no shore side access, need to amend their facility security plans based on the Seafarers’ Access to Maritime Facilities regulation and implement a system for seamen assigned to a vessel at that facility, pilots, and representatives of seamen’s welfare and labor organizations to board and depart the vessel through the facility in a timely manner at no cost to the individual?
The Seafarers’ Access to Maritime Facilities regulation is applicable to those facilities provided in 33 CFR 105.105, which includes barge fleeting facilities that receive barges carrying, in bulk, cargoes regulated by 46 CFR Chapter I, Subchapters D or O, or Certain Dangerous Cargoes. As such, these barge fleeting facilities must amend their facility security plan to implement, as appropriate, a system for seafarer access between vessels moored at the facility and the facility front gate on or before February 3, 2020.
Q7. Can barge fleeting facilities apply for a waiver in accordance with 33 CFR 105.130?
Yes, under 33 CFR 105.130, which is applicable to regulated facilities, including barge fleeting facilities, any facility owner or operator may apply for a waiver of any requirement of 33 CFR Part 105 if the owner or operator considers it unnecessary in light of the nature or operating conditions of the facility.
Find out more answered FAQs at the USCG website.