The U.S. Coast Guard published the Seafarers’ Access to Maritime Facilities Final Rule in the Federal Register April 1, 2019, requiring owners and operators of Maritime Transportation Security Act-regulated facilities to provide seafarers holding valid U.S. visas and other covered individuals with the ability to transit through the facility in a timely manner and at no cost to the individuals.
Under this rule, each owner or operator of a maritime facility regulated by the Coast Guard is required to implement a system providing seafarers, pilots, and representatives of seamen’s welfare and labor organizations access between vessels moored at the facility and the facility gate, in a timely manner and at no cost to the seafarer or other individuals. The final rule provides regulatory flexibility to owners and operators to determine the method of shore access that best suits the size and function of their facility. These methods may include, but are not limited to, providing regularly scheduled or on-call shuttle service, taxi service, arrangements with seafarers’ welfare organizations, or monitoring of pedestrian routes.
The access procedures must be documented in the Facility Security Plan for each facility and approved by the local Captain of the Port. Although the final rule is effective May 1, 2019, each facility owner or operator has 14 months after publication of the final rule (June 1, 2020) to implement a system. This delayed implementation allows the Captain of the Port to work with each facility in the event of deficiencies in the plan.
A copy of the final rule can be found here.