What Does a Certificate of Inspection Mean?
According to 46 U.S.C. § 3309, 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:
- Freight Vessels
- Nautical School Vessels
- Offshore Supply Vessels
- Passenger Vessels
- Sailing School Vessels
- Seagoing Barges
- Seagoing Motor Vessels
- Small Passenger Vessels
- Steam Vessels
- Tank Vessels
- Fish Processing Vessels
- Fish Tender Vessels
- Great Lakes Barges
- Oil Spill Response Vessels
- Towing Vessels
Obtaining a Certificate of Inspection
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. During the scheduled inspection, the condition of the vessel and its equipment will be scrutinized, ensuring the following:
- The vessel is in a safe condition and is suitable for its type of service;
- The vessel has proper accommodations for all individuals on board;
- The vessel has enough potable water for drinking and washing;
- The vessel has proper and necessary safety equipment on board; and
- The vessel complies with all applicable laws and regulations.
Should the above be met during the inspection, the vessel will be issued a certificate of inspection signed by either a senior Coast Guard member or a civilian employee who inspected the vessel, along with the OCMI.
To learn more about certificates of inspection, please contact our maritime lawyers at 888-346-5024!