This policy letter was published on 13 November 2023.
(a) James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023 § 11604 (H.R. 7776)
(b) Title 46, United States Code (U.S.C.) § 11101, Accommodations for seamen
The purpose of this letter is clarification, policy, and guidance on information requirements within accommodation spaces on merchant vessels.
a. The Coast Guard and maritime stakeholders recognize the importance of creating safe and respectful working environments and eliminating sexual assault and sexual harassment from the maritime industry. Many initiatives and measures have been implemented to address these issues and promote a zero tolerance for such behavior. Since 2021, the Coast Guard has sought recommendations from the National Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee (NMERPAC) and National Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee (NMEDPAC) to improve the culture and safety of mariners and eliminate sexual assault and sexual harassment from the workplace.
b. Reference (a) was signed into law on December 23, 2022, and amends reference (b), in part, to require crew berthing areas to display information on company policies, reporting procedures, and measures to address sexual harassment and assault. The below policy represents the Coast Guard’s current thinking on this topic and may assist industry, mariners, and the public, as well as other federal and state regulators, in applying the amended reference (b).
Owners and operators of applicable vessels must comply with reference (b). OCMIs must verify compliance with reference (b) during relevant inspections. ROs and TPOs should verify compliance with reference (b) during relevant surveys and audits.
Applies to merchant vessels constructed in the United States after March 4, 1915.
Exemptions for yachts, pilot vessels, or vessels of less than 100 gross tons.
b. Information in crew berthing areas
In each crew berthing area, the owner or operator of a vessel must be equipped with information in a visible location regarding the following:
Vessel owner or company policies prohibiting sexual assault and sexual harassment, retaliation, and drug and alcohol usage;
Procedures and resources to report crimes, including sexual assault and sexual harassment, including information on: (a) The telephone number, website address, and email address for reporting allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment to the Coast Guard; (b) Vessel owner or company procedures to report violations of company policy and how to access resources; (c) Resources provided by outside organizations such as sexual assault hotlines and counseling; (d) The retention period for surveillance video recording after an incident of sexual harassment or sexual assault is reported; and (e) Additional items specified in regulations issued by the Coast Guard (any such requirements will be reflected in future updates to this policy letter).
c. Information in crew washing places
Owners or operators must display information on procedures and resources for reporting crimes, including sexual assault, and company policies in each washing space.
d. Information guidelines
Information should be displayed as physical signage on walls, bulkheads, or vertical structures.
Signage should be easily accessible, placed at eye level, of appropriate size, and made of durable material.
e. Safety Management System (SMS)
Vessels with SMS obligations must incorporate processes to ensure compliance with the outlined requirements.
Recognized Organizations (ROs) should verify these processes during audits of the Safety Management Certificate (SMC).
Failure to maintain signage may be documented as a non-conformity under the International Safety Management (ISM) Code.
Owners and operators failing to comply may face enforcement actions.
Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance (OCMIs) may issue a Notice of Merchant Marine Inspection Requirements (CG-835V) to document and require resolution of non-compliance.
Alternative methods for displaying information may be considered compliant if appropriately presented.
Environmental Considerations: Examined and deemed not applicable.
Disclaimer: This guidance does not replace legal requirements; it represents the Coast Guard's current thinking and may assist in applying statutory and regulatory requirements.
Questions: The Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance can be contacted at CG-CVC@uscg.mil for any questions or clarifications.