The Office of Marine Safety (OMS) investigates major marine accidents on or under the navigable waters, internal waters, or the territorial sea of the United States and accidents involving U.S. flagged vessels worldwide to determine the probable cause and identify safety recommendations which will prevent similar events in the future. These responsibilities are specified in the Independent Safety Board Act and regulations promulgated jointly at 49 CFR Part 850 by the Board and the United States Coast Guard (USCG).
The Office of Marine Safety also investigates accidents involving U.S. public vessels and non-public vessels, and accidents that may involve the USCG marine safety functions. OMS may also investigate, independently or with another government, marine accidents in which the United States is a party of substantial interest, according to the International Maritime Organization’s “Code for the Investigation of Marine Casualties and Incidents.”
OMS investigations may also include recurring accidents such as those related to recreational boating safety, and catastrophic accidents on U.S. waters whether or not the USCG has jurisdiction.
OMS safety recommendations are issued to Federal Government agencies such as the USCG, State agencies, vessel owners and operators, classification societies and maritime industry organizations. OMS also actively participates in US-based and international groups to improve marine investigations and promote maritime safety.
The international program requires the review of U.S. position papers related to marine accident investigation and participation at International Maritime Organization (IMO) meetings related to marine accident investigations. The program also involves coordination with other U.S. and foreign agencies to ensure that the Board meets its obligations under IMO conventions (most notably, participation in joint-flag-state marine accident investigations). Further, the program involves cooperation with other marine accident investigations organizations worldwide, such as the Marine Accident Investigators International Forum (MAIIF), representing 34 member states in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa. Finally, the OMS tracks developments in marine accident investigation and prevention worldwide.