New guidance issued for reporting sex misconduct on U.S. vessels

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(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Coast Guard has released Marine Safety Information Bulletin 01-23, “Reporting Sexual Misconduct on U.S. Vessels,” to emphasize the service’s commitment to investigating and pursuing appropriate enforcement actions for all reports of sexual misconduct on U.S.-flagged vessels.

Sexual misconduct that occurs on board U.S.-flagged vessels harms mariners, interrupts safe operations and often leads to accidents, lost careers and a lifetime of trauma for the survivors who endure the abuse. This bulletin supersedes the assistant commandant for prevention policy’s MSIB 11-21, “Reporting Sexual Assaults on U.S. Vessels,” issued on Dec. 16, 2021.

Recent changes to the law now require the responsible entity of a vessel, defined as the owner, master or managing operator, to report any complaint or incident of harassment, sexual harassment or sexual assault to the Coast Guard that violates company policy. To help facilitate reporting, the Coast Guard has consolidated reporting for all types of sexual misconduct and established multiple reporting options as detailed in the below graphic:

The reporting options include a CGIS Tips app and/or the email address, which can be used by all reporting sources, including bystanders and survivors, who have access to a smartphone or the internet. The reports, which can be anonymous or for attribution, are received and reviewed by the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS).

An investigation will be initiated for all reports received and someone will provide follow-up communications with all reporting sources who provide contact information. The Coast Guard also maintains a 24/7 watch that can field reports of sexual misconduct via the National Command Center (NCC) phone number: (202) 372-2100.

CGIS will leverage all available resources to immediately initiate a criminal investigation for a sexual crime occurring on a U.S.-flagged vessel anywhere in the world. The Coast Guard will respond to any reports of sexual misconduct with trained investigators and will hold offenders accountable through criminal prosecution and/or actions against Coast Guard-issued merchant mariner credentials (MMCs).

The CGIS Tips App can be downloaded from a mobile provider’s marketplace.

If the responsible entity in charge of a U.S.-flagged vessel makes a report – including providing detailed contact information for further follow-up – of a sexual misconduct incident through CGIS Tips, via the CGIS email at, or the NCC’s phone line, the report will satisfy the reporting requirements of 46 U.S. Code § 10104(a).

 – Coast Guard Maritime Commons

By Rich Miller