U.S. - Enforcement of Nontank Vessel Response Plan Requirements

July 2008

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In Club circular B.428 of April 2005 Members were notified of the regulations requiring self-propelled nontank vessels of 400 gross tons or greater that carry oil of any kind as fuel for main propulsion to maintain approved vessel response plans with effect from 9 August 2005. In June 2005 the US Coast Guard gave notice that enforcement of the regulations would be postponed. (See article of June 2005.)

The Coast Guard has now given notice* that with effect from 22 August it will enforce the requirement for the owner and operator of US or foreign flag nontank vessels operating in U.S. waters to prepare and submit a nontank vessel response plan (NTVRP)Plans must be submitted no less than 30 days prior to operating in U.S. waters.

Initially, enforcement efforts will focus on nontank vessels of 1,600 gross tons and greater as they represent a potentially greater risk to the environment than smaller vessels. Guidance for NTVRP preparation can be found in Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular 01-05, CH-1 of January 2006. 

In their Client Alert of 26 June 2008 ECM Maritime Services offer the following additional information:

Regardless of the size of the vessel, the Captains of the Port (COTP) will have the individual discretion and authority to issue operational controls on nontank vessels that have not submitted a properly prepared plan. These operational controls may include denial of port entry until the NTVRP is submitted; require additional prevention measures; assess a penalty for non-compliance, etc. The details of the limits of a COTP’s authority will be specifically addressed by the USCG Headquarters in the form of a directive to each USCG District Office prior to the 22 August effective date.

Owners and operators of nontank vessels which are subject to the regulations should ensure that the vessel:

  • has its copy of the NTVRP onboard;
  • has a copy of the USCG issued “Interim Operating Authorization (IOA) letter” or a copy of the fax from the USCG acknowledging receipt of the plan, if the plan was recently submitted;
  • that the Master and crew review and understand the emergency notification procedures.

It is also recommended that nontank vessels have their NTVRP and the interim operating authorization letter or the faxed acknowledgement of receipt from the USCG on the bridge and available for review by boarding USCG inspectors.  

*Notice given in Federal Register of 23 June 2008 - 73 Fed. Reg. 35405