WASHINGTON, DC – In response to a recent U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) regulatory change to apply Notice of Arrival (NOA) regulations to domestic vessels, Congressman Jeff Landry (Republican, New Iberia) sent a letter to USCG Commandant, Admiral Robert Papp, Jr., asking for a reversal of this decision.

Under the rule change – all work boats, crew boats, and offshore supply vessels operating in the Gulf of Mexico would have to file with the Coast Guard a document listing the time of their departure, cargo, passengers, route, and time back in port. Landry heard from his constituents that the “just-in-time” nature of the offshore supply industry would make compliance with this rule impossible.

“I respectfully request that USCG amend this rule to comply with the intent of Congress or to refrain from enforcing this regulation on domestic offshore service vessels” Landry wrote to Papp.

Citing Section 109 of the SAFE Port Act of 2006, Landry pointed out Congress specifically applied NOA regulations only to foreign vessels. Landry also mentioned numerous difficulties that the new regulations would impose on the domestic vessel business.

Landry, whose district has the most domestic maritime jobs in the country, is optimistic his letter will reverse the new policy and save the service vessels from overly burdensome applications.

“These new regulations will only increase regulatory and financial burdens on our domestic vessels on the Outer Continental Shelf. I hope my letter will persuade the Coast Guard to refrain from applying the new NOA regulations to domestic offshore support vessels,” said Landry.

The full text of Congressman Landry’s letter is below:

March 15, 2011

Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr.

Commandant

United States Coast Guard

Headquarters

2100 2nd Street, SW

Washington, DC 20593

Dear Admiral Papp,

I am deeply concerned about the United States Coast Guard’s (USCG) recent regulation concerning Notice of Arrival (NOA) on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). I respectfully request that USCG amend this rule to comply with the intent of Congress or refrain from enforcing this regulation on domestic offshore service vessels.

Congress never intended the USCG’s update of the NOA regulations to apply to domestic vessels. In fact, Section 109 of the SAFE Port Act of 2006 (PL-109-347) clearly states:

Notice of Arrival.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating shall update and finalize the rulemaking on notice of arrival for foreign vessels [emphasis added]on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Not only does the wording of Section 109 indicate that Congress intended this regulation to apply only to foreign vessels, I can find no justification in the legislative intent for the USCG’s application of the NOA ruling to domestic vessels.

Applying this regulation to domestic service vessels would greatly increase the regulatory burden on these vessels as they often move in and out of their home port multiple times per day. Moreover, it is impossible for the crews to send the required information about their cargo, passengers and destination 24-hours in advance when these details are set, and subsequently subject to change, by the offshore platform or Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit being serviced. Additionally, as all those working on a domestic vessel have been vetted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and USCG in order to receive their Transportation Worker Identification Card (TWIC), applying the NOA regulation on domestic vessels is duplicitous in its very nature. Furthermore, offshore support vessels are usually not equipped with underway internet capability nor do they traditionally have a port agent, as such, they will not be able to file the required reports.

While I thank the USCG for working with the industry to address the above-described technical and feasibility challenges resulting from the regulation, the fact that industry and the USCG are baffled as to how to apply these regulations should be proof enough that applying the regulations to offshore supply vessels is overly burdensome.

For these reason, I again ask that you refrain from applying the new NOA regulations to domestic offshore support vessels. If USCG finds itself incapable of complying with this request, I respectfully request that USCG answer the following questions:

• How does applying NOA regulations to domestic offshore supply vessels improve our nation’s security,

• How does the cost of compliance to the domestic industry not violate the letter and spirit of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, and

• How you intend for the domestic industry to comply with the regulation?

I thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration of my request and await your response.