News

Great News: USCG Finalizes Rule Implementing Seafarer Terminal Access Legislation

April 4th 2019

The Coast Guard Monday published a final rule requiring facility owners and operators to ensure free access between ship and shore to seafarers, pilots and representatives of seamen’s welfare and labor organizations.

The rule is the result of years of work by maritime attorney and MM&P Vice President George Quick, who shepherded the measure from legislation through agency regulatory channels.

The process took over ten years.

The new rule is expected to have a positive impact on the working conditions of mariners in every MM&P Membership Group.

Specifically, it requires each Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA)-regulated facility to “provide a system for seamen assigned to a vessel at that facility, pilots, and representatives of seamen’s welfare and labor organizations to board and depart the vessel through the facility in a timely manner at no cost to the individual.”

“We finally have the Seafarer Terminal Access legislation implemented in a rule by the USCG after years of work,” Quick said.

“We are very pleased that the USCG’s final rule comprehensively addresses the serious terminal access problems that have made life difficult for seafarers for far too long.”

“Let us hope we see it implemented widely and effectively enforced.”

Under the rule, access procedures must be documented in each vessel’s Facility Security Plan and approved by the local Captain of the Port.

This final rule, which implements a congressional mandate, ensures that no facility owner or operator denies or makes it impractical for seafarers or other specified individuals to transit the facility.

Within 14 months of April 1, the publication date of the final rule, each facility owner or operator must implement a system for providing “timely” access that enables individuals to transit to and from a vessel moored at the facility and the facility gate at no charge.

Timely access means the facility owner or operator must provide the access “without
unreasonable delay,” subject to review by the Captain of the Port.

Timely access is to be determined by taking into account:

— the length of time the vessel is in port;

— the distance of egress/ingress between the vessel and facility gate;

— vessel watch schedules;

— the facility’s safety and security procedures as required by law;

— any other factors specific to the vessel or facility that could affect access to and from the vessel.

The facility owner or operator must ensure that access is provided through one or more of the following methods:

— regularly scheduled escort between the vessel and the facility gate that conforms to the vessel’s watch schedule as agreed upon between the vessel and facility;

— an on-call escort between the vessel and the facility gate;

— arrangements with taxi services or other transportation services, ensuring that any costs for
providing the access described in this section, above the service’s standard fees charged to any customer, are not charged to the individual to whom such access is provided.

If a facility provides arrangements with taxi services or other transportation services as the only method for providing the access described in this section, the facility is responsible for paying any fees for transit within the facility.

The facility is also required to:

— make arrangements with seafarers’ welfare organizations to facilitate access;

— provide monitored pedestrian access routes between the vessel and facility gate;

— provide a method approved by the Captain of the Port.

If an access method relies on a third party, a back-up access method that will be used if the third party is unable to or does not provide the required access in any instance must be provided by the owner or operator.

The owner or operator must ensure that the access required is actually provided in all instances.

The facility owner or operator must provide the access at no cost to the individual to whom such access is provided.

The terminal operator must document the facility’s system for providing access under the rule.

This documentation must include:

— location of transit area(s) used for providing access;

— duties and number of facility personnel assigned to each duty associated with providing access;

— methods of escorting and/or monitoring individuals transiting through the facility;

— agreements or arrangements between the facility and private parties, nonprofit organizations, or other parties, to facilitate access;

— maximum length of time an individual would wait for the access, based on the provided access method(s).