586 - 6/08 - Nontank Vessel Response Plan - USA


Members trading ships to and from the US will be interested in a new Coast Guard requirement for nontank ships to submit a response plan. Operators of tankers trading to US waters will already be familiar with the requirement to lodge an oil spill response plan with the US Coast Guard.

The United States Coast Guard issued a notice on 23 June 2008 to inform US and foreign-flag nontank ship owners and operators that, effective 22 August 2008, it will begin enforcing the requirement to prepare and submit a nontank vessel response plan (NTVRP) for certain nontank ships. 


As explained by Blank Rome LLP in their Maritime Developments Advisory No. 5 (March 2005) available at http://www.blankrome.com/index.cf m?contentID=37&itemID=82, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2004 (Pub. L. 108-293) (the Act), which was signed into law on 09 August 2004, required owners and operators of all nontank ships of 400gt or greater (as measured under the International Tonnage Convention) to prepare and submit NTVRPs to the Coast Guard by 08 August 2005. 

The Coast Guard issued Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular Number 01- 05, which was amended by Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular Number 01-05, CH-1 (NVIC 01-05, CH-1), in order to provide interim guidance for the development and review of NTVRPs.

Regulations were never issued, however, and the Coast Guard issued a notice and request for comments on 24 June 2005 because of the uncertainty related to enforcement and application of the NTVRP requirements. This notice stated that the Coast Guard would not enforce the Act until regulations were issued and in effect.

In the meantime, the Coast Guard encouraged ship owners and operators to seek interim authorisation letters through the voluntary process laid out in NVIC 01-05, CH-1. Despite the nonenforcement notice, owners and operators were still required to develop and submit NTVRPs.


Staff Author