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Navigating US Waters 101 For Foreign Flagged Vessels

By | US cruising

For owners and captains of foreign flagged vessels hoping to explore the buzzing cosmopolitan of Miami, relax on the white sand beaches of Malibu or wonder at the raw wilderness of the Pacific Northwest, there are many regulations to consider before cruising any US waters. These regulations vary between commercial and noncommercial use, and can also depend on vessel size.

The US Coast Guard and US Customs and Border Protection are the lead law enforcement agencies for these regulations and, as such, it is key for yachts and their management representatives to maintain professional relationships with these agencies. With this in mind, Edge Yachts ensures we employ experienced maritime personnel on staff, including retired US Coast Guard enforcement officers, who can assist owners and crew of foreign flagged vessels remain in compliance with these ever changing regulations.

Our Director of Operations is Mark Barker, who worked for the US Coast Guard for over 20 years, enforcing federal maritime law, environmental protection regulations and marine safety standards, ideally positioning him to best advise yachts on keeping compliant. Edge Yachts offers this advice as part of our value-added service to our clients; this isn’t something for which we charge extra, as we understand how important it is to ease the operational burdens of the vessels we manage.

Below, Mark shares the primary entrance regulations to consider before heading into US waters. Failure to comply with these will result in yachts being blocked from entering port, as well as hefty monetary fines, so read on!

 

Electronic Notice of Arrival/Departure (eNOAD) Vessels of 300 gross tons and above must submit an eNOAD. Notice of Arrival requirements must be received 24 to 96 hours prior to arrival and eNOADs must also be submitted when travelling from one Coast Guard sector to another.

Certificate of Financial Responsibility (COFR) Vessels of 300 gross tons and above are also required to obtain a COFR, which demonstrates a vessel’s ability to pay for clean-up and damage costs up to the liability limits required by the Oil Pollution Act. An application with all supporting documentation and applicable fees must be submitted at least 21 days before the certificate is needed.

Non-Tank Vessel Response Plans (NTVRP) This is required for any self-propelled, non-tank vessel over 400 tons that operates in US waters, uses oil as its main propulsion and does not carry oil as cargo. It should be noted that travel to California, Alaska and the Panama Canal requires additional plans.

Shipboard Oil Pollution Plan (SOPEP) Regulation 37 of Annex I of MARPOL requires that oil tankers of 150 gross tons or more and all non-tank vessels of 400 gross tons or more carry an approved Shipboard Oil Pollution Plan.

Garbage Management Plan In accordance with Regulation 9 of Annex V MARPOL 73/78, every ship of 400 gross tons and above, and every ship certified to carry 15 persons or more must comply by developing and implementing a Garbage Management Plan.

Port State Control Inspection If you are arriving into the United States for the first time, or have been out of the country for some time, then it is very likely you will receive a Port State Control inspection, conducted by the US Coast Guard. Although this inspection will cover safety, training, certificates and environmental protection issues, every Captain of the Port tends to focus on area specific items as well.

 

Getting vessel-specific information and guidance on pre-boarding vessel inspection and preparation for US Coast Guard Port State Control examinations, inspection attendance and deficiency resolution is the safest way to ensure this process is as smooth and stress free as possible.

If you have any questions about the above or any other regulations surrounding entering US waters as a foreign flagged vessel, be sure to get in touch. info@edgeyachts.com