The US Coast Guard (USCG) is going ahead with its plans to ensure that US flag passenger vessels operate with a Safety Management System (SMS).
SMS are structured and documented sets of procedures enabling company and vessel personnel to effectively implement safety and environmental protection policies that are specific to the company or vessel.
For nearly 20 years, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has identified issues associated with failed safety management and oversight as the probable cause or a contributing factor in some of the most serious casualties involving US passenger vessels.
These include a passenger ferry striking a pier in 2003 with deadly consequences and fires on board small passenger vessels in 2000 and 2018.
As a result of these incidents, the NTSB issued several formal safety recommendations seeking the required use of SMS on US passenger vessels, and also highlighted the continuing problems stemming from poor safety management.
Recently, the required use of an SMS was among several recommendations made by the NTSB following the ‘Conception’ dive boat fire that killed 34 people.
On 15th January, the USCG took an initial regulatory step towards implementing an SMS requirement by publishing an ’Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking’ in the US Federal Register, the daily journal of the US Government.