U.S. Coast Guard seeks improved shore access for mariners

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January 26, 2011

The U.S. Coast Guard has issued an ALCOAST bulletin advising captains of the port to enforce legal requirements that port and maritime facilities provide mariners, pilots and associated welfare and labor organization representatives with the ability to board and depart vessels in a timely manner and at no cost to the individual.

Also this month, leaders of several U.S. seagoing unions, including American Maritime Officers National President Tom Bethel and AMO National Vice President for Government Relations Michael Murphy, met with Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp to discuss U.S. implementation of the International Maritime Organization’s 2010 amendments to the STCW code.

The ALCOAST bulletin, dated Jan. 11, is an interim measure to urge enforcement of the Congressional mandate requiring that a system for providing shore access be incorporated into the security plan of each U.S. port or maritime facility. The bulletin notes a legal review has determined additional clarification of terms covering shore access in the Maritime Transportation Security Act is required, and the Coast Guard has requested the National Maritime Security Advisory Committee draft definitions to incorporate into the law via the Coast Guard Authorization Act.

“Although the language in the act appears self explanatory, there are several terms within the provision — ‘system,’ ‘timely’ and ‘no cost to the individual’ — that have raised questions amongst the maritime industry and require further clarification,” according to the bulletin, the complete text of which is available on the AMO Currents Web site.

The meeting with Adm. Papp represents one of several avenues the leaders of AMO and other seagoing unions are pursuing to remain current on the Coast Guard’s progress in implementing new STCW requirements and to maintain input on the process.

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