Coast Guard not 'aggressively enforcing' salvage, firefighting requirements

(WASHINGTON) — U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Thomas stated at a recent congressional hearing that the service “has not been aggressively enforcing the compliance” of vessel response plans filed under federal salvage and marine firefighting (SMFF) regulations, the American Journal of Transportation reported.

At the May 3 hearing of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, Thomas, who is assistant commandant for prevention policy, said the Coast Guard doesn’t have the resources to enforce its own rules. Panel chairman Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., asked Thomas why vessel insurers don’t require that “the planning criteria really be performance criteria to save their asset?”

“I think one of the reasons, and I think that most of the panel members here would agree, is because the Coast Guard has not been aggressively enforcing the compliance,” Thomas said.

“The shocking admission by the Coast Guard that it cannot, and is not, enforcing its own marine firefighting rules should be a warning to all shipowners, P&I insurers and legal teams,” said Nicholas Nedeau, CEO of Rapid Ocean Response Corp. (ROR). “This is a disaster just waiting to happen and insurers should insist upon a dedicated network of fire-response vessels — instead of taking their chances on the current and risky ‘vessel of opportunity’ approach to emergency response.”

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By Professional Mariner Staff