7/18/2018: Foreign flag passenger vessels and the Initial Certificate of Compliance exam

The information in this post originally appeared in the Enforcement, Reminders, & Updates section of the Cruise Ship National Center of Expertise’s summer newsletter.

Foreign flag passenger vessels arriving in the United States that embark passengers for the first time or make an initial U.S. port call while carrying U.S. citizens as passengers must participate in the Initial Certificate of Compliance (ICOC) exam process. Vessels that have returned to service after a prolonged absence from the United States must also participate in the Initial COC exam process.

Since the start of the fiscal year in October 2017, the Cruise Ship National Center of Expertise (CSNCOE) has attended 17 initial exams. Most of these ICOC exams occurred at European shipyards for vessels coming to the U.S. within the next two years. However, a number of vessels were unable to complete the exam because the ship was not prepared.

During a recent ICOC exam, one examiner noted that the vessel’s entire RO-RO deck was covered with equipment needed to complete projects during the ship’s pier side maintenance period and the team quickly realized they would not be able to test the fire suppression system on the vehicle deck. Furthermore, the examiners observed piping, which was going to be used to refurbish vital systems equipment, on the deck. This piping also required testing.

Following are a few points to help ensure the ICOC exam is as efficient as possible:

• Owners need to be fully aware of the requirements and expectations to complete a Coast Guard ICOC exam.
• The ICOC process is the same whether the ship is a recently built vessel at a major shipyard or it is an older existing vessel trying to gain access to the U.S. market for the first time.
• A Coast Guard-verified Recognized Organization must test all vital systems and determine them to be in compliance.
• For a successful ICOC exam, the crew must be available and singularly focused.
• The ship should have a valid Passenger Ship Safety Certificate or expect to obtain one by the end of the ICOC exam.

For more information on the Coast Guard’s foreign passenger vessel examination program, visit CSNCOE’s website.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

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