• Coast Guard Proposes New Notice of Arrival Requirements on the Outer Continental Shelf
  • July 6, 2009 | Authors: Jeanne M. Grasso; Jonathan K. Waldron
  • Law Firm: Blank Rome LLP - Washington Office
  • New Development

    The Coast Guard issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) on June 22, 2009 to establish notice of arrival (“NOA”) requirements for units (i.e. floating facilities, mobile offshore drilling units (“MODUs”), and vessels) planning to engage in Outer Continental Shelf (“OCS”) activities in order to improve U.S. maritime domain safety and security awareness. Comments are due by September 21, 2009. The following is the link to the NPRM: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-14584.pdf.

    Background

    Currently, there are NOA requirements for units operating on the OCS, except for U.S. and foreign MODUs, bound for ports or places in the United States. Since September 11, 2001, the Coast Guard has modified the requirements for vessels bound for ports and places in the United States numerous times in an attempt to ensure ­public safety, security, and an uninterrupted flow of commerce. Consistent with these concerns, the NPRM implements section 109 of the Security and Accountability for Every Port Act of 2006 (“SAFE Port Act”) utilizing the existing NOA regime as a guide to implement NOA requirements on the OCS.

    Proposed NOA Requirements

    The NPRM would require that owners or operators of U.S. and foreign-flag units engaging in OCS activities notify the National Vessel Movement Center (“NVMC”) at least 96 hours before their intended arrival on the OCS. U.S.-flag units arriving at a place on the OCS directly from a U.S. port or place will be exempt from the new requirements.

    NOA Required Information

    The information that would be required by the NOA parallels the current requirements for vessels bound for ports or places in the United States, with the exception of voyage information for each port or place in the United States to be visited and the operational condition of required equipment. The NPRM proposes the NOA would include the following:

    • the location of the unit at the time of reporting;
    • the area designation and block number where the unit will operate, if applicable;
    • the unit’s name, if any;
    • the date when OCS activities are expected to begin and end;
    • the names of the last two ports or places visited and the dates of arrival and departure;
    • certain information regarding the crew (e.g., full name, date of birth, nationality, and positions);
    • the date the unit’s International Safety Management Certificate was issued; and
    • the date the unit’s International Ship Security Certificate was issued.

    NOA Process

    If the voyage time to the OCS is 96 hours or greater, the NPRM would require an initial NOA not less than 96 hours in advance of arrival on the OCS. If the voyage time to the OCS is less than 96 hours, the initial NOA would be required not less than 24 hours in advance. All submissions are to be done electronically via the NVMC website www.nvmc.uscg.gov and clicking on the link labeled “Submit NOA online.”

    If an owner or operator becomes aware that the unit will not arrive within 24 hours of the time initially reported, a revised NOA must be submitted at least 24 hours before arrival. If the new estimated time of arrival is less than 24 hours from the initially reported time, a revised NOA must be submitted at least 12 hours before arrival. Revised submissions would not be required for changes in arrival time of less than 6 hours, changes in the location of the unit at the time of reporting, or changes in personnel positions.

    Towing vessels controlling a unit would be required to submit one combined NOA for the vessel and the tows. However, all required information would have to be included for the vessel and each respective tow.

    Conclusion and Recommendations

    This rulemaking proposes an additional regulatory umbrella over OCS activities and therefore U.S. and foreign owners and operators should review the NPRM’s proposed requirements to determine how it will potentially affect the its OCS operations and submit written comments as deemed appropriate to the Coast Guard by September 21, 2009.