Mariners rely on nautical publications for a successful voyage.
Recommendations from the Navigation Safety Advisory Council have seen the Coast Guard update its electronic carriage policies for Vessel Traffic Service Rules, Inland Navigation Rules, and navigation publications in general. With the new changes, U.S. flagged vessels can now use previously downloaded electronic copies (especially where there is no Internet access) of Inland Navigation Rules and Vessel Traffic Service Rules.
Mariners Can Now Meet Certain Publication Requirements Via Electronic Download
Mariners are currently able to access updated electronic marine safety information on their electronic devices from The Coast Guard, National Oceanic, and Atmosphere Administration and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Consequently, the Coast Guard finds it practical for mariners to access information online and is now giving them an option of meeting publication carriage requirements via the internet download method as a way of encouraging them to use electronic nautical publications for voyage planning purposes.
To that effect, the Coast Guard is revising Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 01-16 Change 1 and issuing change 2. Mariners can now carry certain publications required by the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) electronically. A mariner opting for an electronic publication of the Inland Navigation Rules and VTS Rules must display a current electronic version that was previously downloaded on their electronic device.
Public Comments on the Proposed Voyage Policies
To establish practical policies, the Coast Guard published a notice seeking public opinions on proposed policy changes and the supporting economic analysis. The process opened on September 20, 2019, and closed on November 4, 2019. Six public submissions were received with two commentators supporting the proposed action.
After going through the submissions of the other remaining commentators, it was concluded that NVIC 01-16 Change 2 be amended to allow for the use of publications that are already downloaded. A suggestion on mariner courses and programs that focus on the use of electronic publications will be forwarded to the Coast Guard's Office— that deals with Merchant Mariner Credentialing— for their consideration. The Coast Guard could not address a concern raised by one of the commentators on oil record books since the issue was out of the scope of the discussion.
All necessary publications are available at zero cost from their respective governmental agencies' public websites.
Availability of NVIC 01-16 Change 2
The Coast Guard never received any comments about its Deregulatory Savings Analysis for September 2019 initial notice on availability of NVIC 01-16 Change 2. It, however, received feedback on the NVIC that led to changes in the ready reference equivalency standard, which impacts the estimated cost savings. They also were able to identify and correct some grammatical and typographical errors. You can view a full version of NVIC 01-16 Change 2 on their website.