In January 2023, the NTSB released its most wanted list of transportation safety improvements for 2023. A large portion of their list involved Passenger Vessels. Similar to what the Tugboat industry went through in 2019, Passenger Vessel owners need to start preparing now for the arduous process of becoming compliant with all new USCG regulations.

With decades of experience in helping companies ensure their vessels are compliant, TBS Safety already has two-thirds of what you need to be ahead of the upcoming regulations and NTSB Safety Improvements.

The NTSB has recommended the US Coast Guard should…

1. Require all operators of domestic passenger vessels to implement safety management systems.
TBS has an SMS that will meet all the requirements of 33 CFR Part 96, 46 CFR Parts 71 (Sub H - Inspection & Certification), 115 (Sub K – Inspection & Certification), and 176 (Sub T – Inspection & Certification). It is fully compliant with the ISM Code and PVAs Flagship.

2. Develop a US voyage data recorder standard for ferry vessels that meets the International Maritime Organization's performance standards and require the installation of such equipment on new and existing ferry vessels.

3. Require companies operating domestic passenger vessels to develop and implement a preventive maintenance program for all systems affecting the safe operation of their vessels.
TBS creates customized preventive maintenance programs within HelmCONNECT for all vessels. Manufacturers’ recommendations and company practices are used to build a comprehensive system. Maintenance is scheduled either on hours run or fuel burned system. Scheduled maintenance includes instructions on how to perform the maintenance along with required tools and PPE.

4. Evaluate the feasibility of creating a passenger vessel safety specialist billet and staff sector-level billets at each sector that has the potential for a search and rescue activity.

5. Require fire-detection systems in unoccupied spaces with machinery or other potential heat sources on board small passenger vessels.
TBS fire drills and inspections ensure that any systems in unoccupied spaces are accounted for in all training and drills. Additionally, inspection forms capture the status of the fire detection system and alert shoreside staff through HelmCONNECT if there are failures within the system.

6. Require newly constructed vessels and those currently in service with overnight accommodations to have interconnected smoke detectors in all accommodation spaces.
TBS inspection forms built into HelmCONNECT and then scheduled out ensure that crew members are testing the devices monthly or on any timeline that the company specifies if it exceeds regulatory requirements. Third-party fire system inspection records are tracked within HelmCONNECT. Custom reminders alert shoreside and vessel staff as to when the inspections are coming due.

7. Develop and implement an inspection procedure to verify that small passenger vessel owners, operators, and charterers are conducting roving patrols.
TBS has developed roving patrol forms in HelmCONNECT that ensure that all vital areas of the vessel are being checked and recorded. QR Codes around the vessel ensure that the patrols are going to each location and filling out the appropriate form.

8. Require newly constructed small passenger vessels and those constructed prior to 1996 with overnight accommodations to provide a secondary means of escape into a different space than the primary exit.
9. Review the suitability of regulations regarding means of escape to ensure there are no obstructions to egress on small passenger vessels constructed prior to 1996 and modify regulations accordingly.
10. Ensure that amphibious passenger vehicle operators tell passengers that seat belts must not be worn while the vessel/vehicle is operated in the water and visually check that each passenger has unbuckled his or her seat belt.
11. Require DUKW amphibious passenger vessels to have sufficient reserve buoyancy through passive means, and for those that don't, require the removal of canopies, side curtains, and their associated framing during waterborne operations.
12. Require that amphibious passenger vessels equipped with forward hatches enable operators to securely close them during waterborne operations.

13. Review the circumstances of the Stretch Duck 7 sinking and other amphibious passenger vessel accidents, and revise Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular 1-01 to address the issues found in these accidents.
TBS builds Lessons Learned into the HelmCONNECT system and assigns them to shoreside and vessel personnel as training opportunities. All fire detection systems including smoke detectors are tested during fire drills and documented. Vessel inspections by the crew and TBS inspectors include emergency escapes and procedures regarding abandon ship, crowd control, proper donning of a lifejacket including when to do so, and other emergency procedures.

14. Examine existing training and knowledge requirements for understanding and applying fundamental weather principles to waterborne operations for Coast Guard-credentialed masters who operate small passenger vessels; and, if warranted, require additional training.

TBS has customized training in HelmCONNECT that will provide documented proof of training as well as a document library of fundamental weather principles.

ON PASSENGER SAFETY…Operators and organizations representing small passenger vessel operators should:

15. Implement safety management systems to improve safety practices and minimize risk.

TBS has an SMS that will meet all the requirements of 33 CFR Part 96, 46 CFR Parts 71 (Sub H - Inspection & Certification), 115 (Sub K – Inspection & Certification), and 176 (Sub T – Inspection & Certification). It is fully compliant with the ISM Code and PVAs Flagship.

16. Develop and/or improve procedures to manage and account for all persons aboard in the event of a mass evacuation of a ship while in port.

TBS can create a passenger list within Helm CONNECT that can be used to manage people’s room assignments and create a list of passengers and crew to account for in an emergency.

17. Perform a worst-case scenario risk assessment for all active water-based fire-suppression systems to evaluate whether the existing freshwater supply is sufficient.

TBS can create the risk assessment and then document it in Helm CONNECT.

18. Review lifesaving appliance training programs, including recordkeeping procedures, and revised the program to ensure that crewmembers are proficient with onboard systems.

TBS will create vessel-specific lifesaving appliance training programs and all crew member training will be documented in HelmCONNECT in each crew members personal history profile

19. Provide formal and recurrent training to shoreside management and senior shipboard officers to ensure that all senior leaders are fully knowledgeable about the policies and procedures in the safety management system.

All SMS training is scheduled so that shoreside and vessel personnel are fully trained on each section of the SMS and it is all documented in HelmCONNECT. Training consists of videos and quizzes.

Interested in finding out how TBS Safety can get you prepared for the upcoming USCG changes to the passenger vessel industry? Call or email us today.