In April, the US Coast Guards Cruise Ship National Centre of Expertise (NCOE) provided information to cruise ship owners and operators regarding new requirements established with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021.
In short, the USCG said that the newly established law applies to vessels that are authorised to carry at least 250 passengers; has on board sleeping facilities for each passenger; and is on a voyage that embarks or disembarks passengers in the US.
Specifically, the new requirements included:
(1) Ensure a physician is always present and available to treat any passengers on board the vessel in the event of an emergency situation.
(2) Ensure the vessel is in compliance with the Health Care Guidelines for Cruise Ship Medical Facilities established by the American College of Emergency Physicians.
(3) Ensure the initial safety briefing given to passengers includes the location of the vessel’s medical facilities and the appropriate steps passengers should follow during a medical emergency.
USCG Port State Control Officers (PSCOs) have been verifying medical facility compliance with the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) since 2010, and evaluating passenger muster compliance with the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) since 2012.
Based on the new requirements above, USCG PSCOs will verify that requirement No 3 is included in the passenger safety briefing. For vessels engaged on coastal voyages in which CVSSA did not originally apply, vessel operators were recommended to contact the Officer in Charge, Marine Inspections (OCMI) who issued the Certificate of Inspection (COI) to ensure that the company is compliance with all requirements.