Coast Guard finalizes new monetary thresholds for casualty reporting

The U.S. Coast Guard has raised the monetary thresholds for reporting maritime casualties and serious marine incidents, changes likely to reduce industry costs and the number of reportable incidents each year.

Under new regulations that took effect April 18, mariners must submit a CG-2692 form when property damage from a marine casualty exceeds $75,000. Prior to that date, the form was required for incidents exceeding $25,000 in property damage.

The Coast Guard also revised the definition of a serious marine incident, or SMI, which requires drug and alcohol testing for key personnel. Under the new rule, chemical tests are required when property damage from an accident exceeds $200,000. The previous trigger was anything over $100,000.

The American Waterways Operators (AWO), a towing industry trade group that had long pushed for such a change, applauded the new reporting standards.

“By adjusting the thresholds for inflation and negating the need to report casualties that result in a relatively low amount of property damage, we believe that the final rule will save both the industry and the Coast Guard time and money,” Caitlyn Stewart, the AWO’s director for regulatory affairs, said in a prepared statement.

The new rule, she added, also will “ensure that the Coast Guard can direct its attention and resources to high-consequence incidents.”

The Coast Guard has been considering new casualty reporting rules for several years, largely due to prodding from the AWO and other groups. Among their concerns: The reporting thresholds hadn’t changed since the Reagan era.

“What set this rule in motion was the cooperative work done between industry advisory committees and the Coast Guard, which recognized that the monetary thresholds for marine casualties had not been adjusted for inflation since the 1980s,” said Cmdr. Jason Franz, chief of the Coast Guard’s Investigations Division.

Initially, the Coast Guard proposed raising the casualty reporting threshold to $72,000, a figure that roughly aligned with the pace of inflation over the past three decades. The service arrived at that figure by reviewing data from several economic tools, including the Consumer Price Index.

The Coast Guard received 45 comments on the proposed rule change, one of which suggested choosing a more memorable number for casualty reporting such as $75,000 or $100,000. The Coast Guard agreed, albeit on the lower end of that scale.

Although some earlier analyses suggested substantial savings for raising the casualty threshold, the Coast Guard pegs annual savings to the industry at just $40,809. Those savings come largely from reduced labor costs associated with reporting and recordkeeping. Raising the SMI trigger to $200,000 will save the industry about $4,700 a year in testing costs.

Under the new standards, the Coast Guard expects to undertake about 5 percent fewer marine casualty reports each year, or about 316 out of nearly 6,000 incidents.

By Professional Mariner Staff