U.S. Coast Guard, Transport Canada to conduct joint vessel inspections on Seaway

The following is a joint press release issued by Transport Canada and the U.S. Coast Guard:

OTTAWA —Transport Canada (TC) and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) are conducting a pilot project for joint Port State Control inspections on a limited number of non-Canadian and non-US flagged vessels entering the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway. Port State Control inspections focus on increasing vessel safety, security and pollution prevention, and monitoring living and working conditions for workers on the ships.

“This will make it easier for Canadian and American firms to do business, with direct benefits for businesses, leading to more jobs and growth in both Canada and the U.S. while increasing marine safety and security”, said the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

“This initiative is in keeping with President Obama's and Prime Minister Harper's Beyond the Border Perimeter Security Initiative protecting the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway region, which provides common access to the heart of North America. Our goal is to make vessel inspections more efficient and facilitate American and Canadian business on both sides of our shared border”, said Rear Adm. Mike Parks, Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Ninth District.

On February 4, 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama announced the creation of the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) to better align the regulatory approaches of the two countries.

Prime Minister Harper and President Obama also announced that Canada and the United States had agreed to a Joint Action Plan outlining work plans in four sectors, including transportation. The pilot project announced today is one initiative under the RCC Joint Action Plan. It establishes a Canada-United States safety and security framework for the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway that will align the two countries’ regulatory requirements. This pilot project will look for efficiencies in order to reduce duplicate inspections and impediments to trade.

The RCC work plan regarding the safety and security framework for the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway is available at: Work Plan (Canada) http://actionplan.gc.ca/page/rcc-ccr/regulatory-oversight-regime-great-lakes-st-lawrence-seaway-work-plan Work Plan (United States) www.trade.gov/rcc/documents/St.-Lawrence-Seaway.pdf

Transport Canada and the USCG officials will simultaneously inspect foreign-flagged vessels entering the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway. Vessel participation in the pilot project will be voluntary; a vessel may stop the Coast Guard portion of the exam at any time during the process since the joint exams will be carried out in Canadian waters. If the vessel then continues on to a U.S. port, the US Coast Guard will conduct its normal foreign vessel examination at that time if one is required. Reasonable efforts will be made to avoid delaying the vessel beyond the normal time required to conduct a TC inspection.

This pilot project will extend through the fall of 2012. After its completion, TC and the USCG will make recommendations on forming an ongoing bi-national foreign vessel inspection program.

By Professional Mariner Staff