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Public Affairs

For your convenience we have provided a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) below.  If the information you are seeking is not available below or if you are inquiring to set-up an interview, please contact our Public Affairs Officer, Jason Yets at Jason.m.yets@uscg.mil

What is the Cruise Ship National Center of Expertise (CSNCOE)?
The CSNCOE staff serves both the USCG and industry as in house consultants, each with their own specific areas of expertise.  This uniquely qualified group of individuals serves a multitude of facets; from augmenting exam personnel to neighboring AOR’s, to providing training on system testing for new technologies.  With the fast pace industry of cruise ships, the CSNCOE helps the lines keep pace with regulation and policy; providing interpretations and defining intent. CSNCOE is the nexus of Coast Guard expertise and best practices on the Foreign Passenger Vessel safety program; it is also the cruise shipping industries over-arching liaison with the USCG.  The CSNCOE’s focus is to raise the competency, capabilities, and CG-wide consistency in the field of cruise ship safety, environmental, and security requirements and Certificate of Compliance examinations.

What is the Advanced Foreign Passenger Vessel Examiners (AFPVE) course?
This formal USCG “resident training” is administered, typically, 3 times each year for up to 15 USCG Active Duty, Reserve, and Civilian members as well as 10 cruise industry stakeholders (cruise line representatives, ship officers, classification society surveyors/managers, foreign flag administration representatives, and other government agencies). The purpose of the course is to broaden and deepen participants understanding of and competency in the Coast Guard’s Foreign Passenger Vessel Examination program.  Course lessons explain in-depth technical and regulatory concepts on standards applicable to foreign passenger vessels.  The combination of lesson proficiency assessments and ship visits ensure greater awareness in participants’ decision making skills while evaluating a vessel’s compliance with international and domestic safety, security, and environmental standards. 

What does the Coast Guard exam on a cruise ship?
The Coast Guard examines the vessel's emergency systems including but not limited to; document checks, general structural fire protection, automatic sprinkler/water mist systems, fire pumps and hydrants, fixed fire detection systems, fire and water tight doors, engineering systems, emergency lighting, life saving appliances, pollution prevention, navigational safety and security.  In addition, a fire and abandon ship drill is observed.

Are cruise ships required to have passenger musters and safety drills before the vessel leaves port?
Ships are currently required by SOLAS to conduct a “passenger muster” within 24 hours of departure from the embarkation Port.  Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) member lines conduct these “passenger musters” before the ships leave port.  The Coast Guard witnesses these musters during the annual and periodic exams.  Whenever new passengers embark, a “passenger safety brief” must be given before or immediately after the ship leaves port.

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What kind of survival craft are cruise ships required to have and how many?
All Cruise ships will have a total aggregate survival craft capacity to accommodate no less than 125% of the total persons onboard.  This is accomplished by life boats, life rafts, and marine evacuation systems. 

What happens if the ship sinks and the survival craft are not launched; do they sink with the ship?
The lifeboats are able to be launched with a trim of up to 10 degrees and up to a 20 degree list, though the lifeboats must be launched manually.  All life rafts are stowed in a "float free" and would separate from the ship, float to the surface and inflate.

How does the ship’s Captain communicate instructions to passengers and crew in an emergency?
Every ship is required to have a public address system and general alarm.

What happens if a ship loses power?
Cruise ships are required to have an emergency generators that will automatic provide emergency power to vital systems in the event of the loss of main power.

Can anyone over-ride the Captains decisions?
As outlined in SOLAS, Chapter V, Regulation 34-1 “the owner, the charterer, the company operating the ship or any other person shall not prevent or restrict the master of the ship from taking or executing any decision which, in the masters professional judgment, is necessary for the safety of life at sea and protection of the marine environment.”

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What training does the crew onboard have to prepare for an emergency at sea?
All crew members receive training in accordance with international regulations, as set forth by Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping (STCW).  This includes general training standards that all crew onboard must carry, to specific training requirements for crew members who are assigned to assist passengers in the event of an emergency.

How often are ships required to conduct fire and abandon ship drills?
cruise ships are required to conduct emergency drills weekly. All Crew members onboard must participate in at least one drill per month.

Are cruise ships required to have any contingency plans onboard in the event of an emergency?
All ships are required to have what is referred to as a “decision support system for masters of cruise ships”, whereas; the system, at a minimum, shall consist of a printed emergency plan or plans, including, but not limited to:
•     Fire
•     Damage to ship
•     Pollution
•     Unlawful acts threatening the safety of the ship and the security of its passengers and crew
•     Personnel accidents
•     Cargo related accidents; and
•     Emergency assistance to other ships

Are cruise ships required to count and keep record of all passengers and crew onboard?
All persons onboard all cruise ships shall be counted prior to departure.  The names, nationality and genders. The numbers differentiating between adult, children and infant shall also be recorded.

How many and what type of life jackets are required to be carried onboard?
There must be at minimum, a life jacket for every person onboard, plus 5% spare.  The ships are required to carry different types of life jackets for adults, children and infants.

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Last Modified 7/22/2014