Nontank Vessel Reponse Plans


Published: 1 July 2005

Members will be aware that the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2004 (the Act) requires owners and operators of non-tank vessels of 400 or more gross tons to prepare and submit oil spill response plans (NTVRPs) to the U.S. Coast Guard no later than 9 August 2005. The Act also mandates that the Coast Guard issue regulations requiring submission of the plans.

On 4 February 2005, the Coast Guard issued Navigation and Vessel Information Circular 01-05 (NVIC 01-05) which described the voluntary process for submitting response plans and for obtaining interim authorization letters from the Coast Guard. The requirements of the NVIC were discussed in Skuld’s Circular of 6 June 2005.

Because of the length of time needed to provide the necessary opportunity for public comments on a number of issues, including questions on the number of vessels affected and enforcement of the legislation by the Coast Guard, final regulations may not be in effect on 9 August 2005.

On 24 June 2005, the Coast Guard issued a notice in the Federal Register (70 FR 36649) advising that it will not enforce the Act until regulations are issued and in effect. As a result, non-tank vessels operating in U.S. waters after 9 August 2005 will not be subject to penalties for failure to have an NTVRP. Members are nevertheless encouraged to prepare and submit NTVRPs by 9 July 2005 in order to secure interim authorisation letters under NVIC 01-05. Failure to have an NTVRP in place by that date may delay response efforts in the event of an oil spill and thus subject members to increased damages and civil liability.

Further questions should be addressed to the Association.