Over a period of more than 140 years, the laws regarding the inspection and certification of U.S. flag carrying vessels have developed. Since consolidating these laws into 46 U.S.C. Chapter 33, vessels are subject to inspection and certification by the Coast Guard on a regular basis to ensure their safety. According to this, all U.S. flag carrying vessels are required to be inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard on a regular basis. For passenger vessels, nautical school vessels, and small passenger vessels, the inspection must occur at least once per year after the initial inspection, whereas all other vessels can go as long as five years between inspections.
The following vessels all require this regular inspection:
Once a vessel has been inspected and found to be in compliance with all applicable laws, a certificate of inspection is issued. This certificate must be framed and prominently displayed in a conspicuous place; a vessel may not be operated unless its certificate is on board. If a vessel navigates without certification, it will be required to:
A certified vessel is also required to comply with all of the conditions during the term of the certificate. Should a vessel not be in compliance with these terms, a written notice will be sent to the individual in charge and the vessel may be required to make repairs immediately or cease operating; in some cases, if the vessel has a condition deemed to be unsafe to life, the certificate may be revoked or suspended.
The owner, charter, agent, master, or operator of the vessel must submit an application to the Office in Charge, Marine Inspection (OCMI) of the marine inspection zone, who will then schedule an inspection. A notice requesting inspection must be sent at least 30 days before the current certificate expires; if the vessel will no longer be operated, this must be communicated to the Secretary in writing.
There are several things that must be determined by the Coast Guard when inspecting a vessel:
Before being put into service, each vessel needs to undergo an inspection for certification. Following the initial inspection, passenger vessels, nautical school vessels, and small passenger vessels will need to be inspected at least once per year, with all other vessels requiring inspection at least once every five years.
To learn more about inspection and certification, please contact Arnold & Itkin today!
Arnold & Itkin represented nearly a third of the crewmembers injured in the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
Because maritime law is so complex and so complicated, it is crucial that you work with an attorney who has an in-depth understanding of how it works and who has proven themselves in similar cases before.