The National Maritime Security Advisory Committee (The primary industry advisory committee that provides security policy guidance to the US Coast Guard) has recently engaged in the issue of seafarer’s access to shore leave.
NMSAC was tasked to research the issue and provide guidance to the USCG on the issue. You can read a review of the detailed report they issued here .
In addition, at their May 4 meeting, the Committee passed the following resolution:
“The National Maritime Security Advisory Committee (NMSAC),
Having received, a Task Statement from the United States Coast Guard in June, 2008, requesting NMSAC to examine and quantify the problem of seafarers’ access to shore leave and to provide comments by September 18, 2008,
Convened a Seafarers’ Access working group consisting of representatives that consisted of representatives from Seafarer’s Unions, Seafarer’s Welfare Organizations, Facility owner/operators, Facility Security Officers, and Shipowners Associations,
Having met on September 18, 2008 to discuss, among other items, the findings of the working group,
Recognizing that, several international instruments, listed in the working group’s report, affirm seafarers’ rights to shore leave, visitors, and representatives of seafarers’ welfare and labour organizations,
Noting that, seafarers work and live on ships involved in domestic and international trade and that access to shore facilities and shore leave are vital elements of seafarers’ general well-being and, therefore, to the realization of safer seas and cleaner oceans and the free flow of commerce,
Considering that, due to the global nature of the shipping industry, seafarers need special protection, and security needs must be balanced with the rights of seafarers, and
Noting that, the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code), requires that port facility plans address procedures for:
“facilitating shore leave for ship’s personnel or personnel changes, as well as access of visitors to the ship including representatives of seafarers’ welfare and labour organizations.”
Resolves that, the Coast Guard,
1. enforce the obligation of port facilities under the ISPS Code, the Maritime Transportation Security Act, and the relevant provisions of Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations regarding seafarers’ access to shore leave, and access for visitors, representatives of seafarers welfare and labor organization;
2. require each port facility to facilitate access for seafarers by requiring that every port facility security plan facilitate shore leave, crew changes, and access for visitors, in accordance with the ISPs Code and international instruments. Any costs for facilitating such access is a matter for the port facility; and,
3. convene a high-level group consisting of representatives of the Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Seafarer’s Unions, Seafarer’s Welfare Organizations, Facility owner/operators, Facility Security Officers, and Ship-owners Associations to address all related seafarer access issues.”
The Coast Guard is very interested in soliciting comments/best practices/lessons learned that we can use in developing futher policy to address this issue. In addition, we’re looking for information in trying to quantify how big the issue is.
This is your opportunity to help inform us as we develop comprehensive guidance to the industry.
So, let’s get the conversation started…
This article was written by Ryan Owens (DredgeMate) Chief, Industry Outreach Branch, Domestic Ports Division, United States Coast Guard. He can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at +1 (202) 372-1108.
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