OSV is a vessel that regularly carries goods, supplies, or equipment in support of exploration, exploitation, or production of offshore mineral and energy resources

Before the introduction of OSV, vessels of all types were used to support of the offshore oil and gas industry.

Nowadays, OSVs are relatively large, highly capable and technologically advanced vessels that conduct various operations, due to industry's further proceeding into offshore and deeper water.

OSVs have evolved through three different events in time, USCG mentions:

  • Public Law 96-378 - October 6, 1980
  • 46 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Subchapter L - March 15, 1996
  • Multiple Service Certification - July 5, 2001

Firstly, before Public Law 96-378 formally recognized OSVs, various vessel types were utilized in the offshore oil and gas industry for the purposes of transporting supplies offshore as most of the work was found relatively close to shore.

Secondly, with the appearance of post-46 CFR, Subchapter L vessels over time the size, complexity, and capability of OSVs increased to meet the needs of the offshore oil and gas industry, including larger deck and liquid cargo capacities, specialization, and “purpose” built vessels. 

Finally, the Eighth Coast Guard District, responsible for regulating Outer Continental Shelf Activities in the Gulf of Mexico, published a letter dated July 5, 2001 (Multiple Service Certification) establishing the policy for certificating vessels for both OSV service under Subchapter L and another service under Subchapter I (Cargo and Miscellaneous Vessels), allowing Multiple Service Certification OSVs to engage in work beyond just the offshore oil and gas industry. 

To see the full report about the history of OSVs, click below