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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation M-02-017
Details
Synopsis: The recommendation addresses the issue of vessel communications. The recommendation is derived from the Safety Board's investigation of the fire on board the small passenger vessel Port Imperial Manhattan in the Hudson River, New York City, New York, on November 17,2000, and is consistent with the evidence we found and the analysis we performed. As a result of this investigation, the Safety Board has issued the safety recommendations to the U.S. Coast Guard, the Federal Communications Commission, NY Waterway, and the Passenger Vessel Association. The Safety Board would appreciate a response from you within 90 days addressing actions you have taken or intend to take to implement our recommendation.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION: Require that small passenger vessels have VHF radiotelephone communications systems on board that can operate even when the vessel loses power.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Marine
Location: River, NY, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA01MM008
Accident Reports:
Fire on Board the Small Passenger Vessel Port Imperial Manhattan
Report #: MAR-02-02
Accident Date: 11/17/2000
Issue Date: 7/3/2002
Date Closed: 12/16/2011
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: Federal Communications Commission (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: Federal Communications Commission
Date: 12/16/2011
Response: The FCC’s final rule, 47 Code of Federal Regulations 80.917, requiring that small passenger vessels carry either a reserve power supply or at least one VHF handheld radiotelephone, satisfies this recommendation. Accordingly, Safety Recommendation M-02-17 is classified CLOSED—ACCEPTABLE ACTION.

From: NTSB
To: Federal Communications Commission
Date: 3/27/2009
Response: The Safety Board has reviewed the FCC’s final rule, published in the Federal Register, volume 73, number 17, on January 25, 2008, and the revised regulation 47 Code of Federal Regulations Section 80.917, Reserve Power Supply. The Board is pleased to note that, effective March 25, 2009, the FCC will require vessels that carry more than 150 passengers or have overnight accommodations for more than 49 persons to be equipped with a reserve power supply for the vessels’ VHF radiotelephone communications system, enabling the system to operate even when power is lost. Although this represents a significant safety improvement, it falls short of requiring a reserve power supply on all small passenger vessels as requested by the Board. On December 21, 2006, in the Safety Board’s comments to the FCC’s November 8, 2006, notice of proposed rulemaking, the Board indicated that requiring all small passenger vessels to carry either an extra battery near the fixed VHF radio or a portable hand-held VHF radio would satisfy the intent of the recommendation. Neither of these items would be cost prohibitive to a small vessel operator. However, because the final FCC regulations are not applicable to all small passenger vessels, Safety Recommendation M-02-17 is classified Closed Unacceptable Action.

From: NTSB
To: Federal Communications Commission
Date: 12/21/2006
Response: Notation 7472A: The National Transportation Safety Board has reviewed the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) published at 71 Federal Register 216 on November 8, 2006. Section (iii) of this notice requests comment on whether to require the carriage of at least one very high frequency (VHF) handheld marine radio transceiver on all small passenger vessels that do not have a reserve power supply. The Safety Board, in its investigative report on the fire on board the small passenger vessel Port Imperial Manhattan on November 17, 2000, pointed out that the commuter vessel lost propulsion power and steering control as well as power to its VHF radio soon after the fire broke out. The vessel was less than 100 gross tons and, therefore, not required to have an emergency source of power for its VHF radiotelephone. After losing power to the VHF radiotelephone, the Port Imperial Manhattan could not communicate with emergency response vessels and other river traffic, which placed passengers and crewmembers at great risk. In consideration of the increased risk posed to those on board, the Safety Board made the following safety recommendation to the FCC: M-02-17 Require that small passenger vessels have VHF radiotelephone communications systems on board that can operate even when the vessel loses power. In issuing this safety recommendation, the Safety Board envisioned that VHF communications could be assured by installing a battery near the radio to provide a source of reserve power. This particular installation is required for vessels over 100 gross tons and is a proven means for economically providing a reliable source of power for vessel communications. The Board is pleased that the FCC is amending Section 80.917 to extend the requirement for a reserve power supply to small passenger vessels less than 100 gross tons that carry more than 150 passengers or have overnight accommodations for more than 49 passengers, or that operate on the high seas, or more than 3 miles from shore on the Great Lakes. Requiring a reserve power supply on this class of small passenger vessel will contribute significantly to the safety of those on board and is strongly endorsed by the Safety Board. The Safety Board notes that the amended Section 80.917 does not require a reserve power supply for small passenger vessels of less than 100 gross tons that carry no more than 150 passengers or have overnight accommodations for no more than 49 passengers or do not operate on the high seas, or more than 3 miles from shore on the Great Lakes. However, the FCC is also requesting comment on whether to require carriage of at least one VHF handheld marine radio transceiver on any small passenger vessel that does not have a reserve power source. The Safety Board believes that the carriage of at least one VHF handheld marine radio transceiver by small passenger vessels not having a reserve power supply would meet the intent of our safety recommendation and strongly supports this proposal. The Safety Board appreciates this opportunity to comment on the FCC’s Third FNPRM.

From: NTSB
To: Federal Communications Commission
Date: 6/29/2006
Response: Mr. Tobias reports that the FCC continues to work on a report and order that will address this issue, but he is unable to provide a timeframe of when either will be released. The Safety Board is concerned over the timeliness of the FCC's action: it has already been nearly 4 years since we made this recommendation. Accordingly, the Safety Board encourages the FCC to expedite action on this important marine safety issue. Pending further information from the FCC on the status of the pending report and order, Safety Recommendation M-02-17 is classified "Open-Acceptable Response." The Safety Board would appreciate being notified once the report is released and the order finalized.

From: Federal Communications Commission
To: NTSB
Date: 3/31/2006
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 4/5/2006 1:25:45 PM MC# 2060185 3-3106: Email from: Jeff Tobias [Jeff.Tobias@fcc.gov] Sent: Friday, March 31, 2005 4:21 PM: Mr. Brown, The draft Report and Order is still undergoing internal FCC review. We do not have an estimate at this time regarding when the matter will be released. Jeffrey Tobias, Federal Communications Commission Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Public Safety and Critical Infrastructure Division, (202) 418-1617

From: NTSB
To: Federal Communications Commission
Date: 4/27/2005
Response: Mr. Tobias' e-mail reports that the FCC is actively working on rulemaking to address this issue and that the FCC anticipates release of a report and order in the third quarter of 2005. Accordingly, Safety Recommendation M-02-17 is classified "Open--Acceptable Response," pending publication of the final rule. The Safety Board would appreciate being notified once the report is released and when the order is finalized.

From: Federal Communications Commission
To: NTSB
Date: 3/24/2005
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 3/25/2005 8:29:22 AM MC# 2050128 We are actively working on this rulemaking, and we anticipate a Third Quarter 2005 release of a report and order.If you are interested in reviewing the comments we received on the reserve power supply requirement, and have not done so already, you can access them through the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System. Go to http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/comsrch_v2.cgi, and enter 00-48 in the Proceeding field. There are comments in the record pertaining to this issue from NTIA/US Coast Guard (both comments and reply comments), the Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services, and the Passenger Vessel Association. ECFS also includes a description of an ex parte presentation by the National Marine Charter Association. Let me know if I can be of further assistance. Jeffrey Tobias, Federal Communications Commission, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, Public Safety and Critical Infrastructure Division, (202) 418-1617

From: NTSB
To: Federal Communications Commission
Date: 12/17/2002
Response: Ms. Terry's, letter reports that requiring small passenger vessels to have such VHF radiotelephone communications systems on board would necessitate amending the Commission's rules. Ms. Terry indicates that the FCC's most prudent course of action now would be to provide interested parties the opportunity to provide input on how to reduce risk to crewmembers and passengers during a loss of power and that the FCC will conduct a rulemaking as expeditiously as possible. The Safety Board monitors implementation of its recommendations until final action has been completed; accordingly, Safety Recommendation M-02-17 is classified "Open--Acceptable Response," pending publication of the final rule. The Safety Board would appreciate receiving periodic updates on the status of this regulatory action.

From: Federal Communications Commission
To: NTSB
Date: 10/23/2002
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 10/30/2002 12:40:05 PM MC# 2020910 The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (Bureau) administers the Commission's regulations of the Maritime Radio Services. As a result, the Chairman's Office has requested that the Bureau prepare the Commission's response to the Recommendation. The Commission has been involved in the development of radio regulations for U.S. ships, including passenger ships, for most of its history. It administers vessel radio requirements that seek to promote the safety of life and property at sea. These requirements are intended to ensure that adequate radio equipment is carried on board a vessel to enable it to communicate with shore stations and other vessels, and to come to the rescue of nearby vessels in need of assistance. Ships are required to carry radio equipment to comply with the requirements of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Act) [see 47 U.S.C. 351-386]. The Act's requirements pertaining to U.S. ships are generally implemented through the Commission's Part 80 rules. Small passenger vessels are vessels of less than 100 gross tons that carry more than six passengers for hire. It is our understanding that the Port Imperial Manhattan was a small passenger vessel. Generally, the radio equipment that our rules require a small passenger vessel to carry depends on the vessel's area of operation. The further from land the vessel travels the more radio equipment is required. Small passenger vessels that sail not more than 20 nautical miles from the nearest land and always within communication of a VHF coast station that maintains a continuous watch on VHF Channel 16 (156.8 MHz) must carry a VHF radio installation [See 47 C.F.R. 80.905(a)(1)], but only vessels of more than 100 gross tons must have a reserve power supply for the radio installation. [See 47 C.F.R. 80.917. For this reason, the Port Imperial Manhattan was not required to have a reserve power supply.] The Recommendation proposes that the Commission require all small passenger vessels to be equipped with VHF radiotelephone communications systems that can operate even when the vessel loses power. We agree that such a requirement could increase the safety of crewmembers and passengers on passenger vessels of less than 100 gross tons. Achieving this result, however, would require the amendment of the Commission's Rules. Moreover, such amendment requires a notice and comment rule making pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 553. Thus, it appears that the most prudent course of action at this time would be to provide interested parties, including members and representatives of the maritime community, an opportunity to make their views known and offer alternative suggestions for how to reduce the risk to crewmembers and passengers in the event of a loss of power. We will endeavor to conduct such a rule making as expeditiously as possible. In this regard, we note that we have an ongoing proceeding regarding amendment of the Commission's Part 80 rules. We will include the NTSB's Recommendation into the record of that proceeding. While this course of action would not result in an immediate solution, we believe that it can provide a vehicle by which we can examine ways to address the safety needs of the small passenger vessel operators, crewmembers, and passengers in the most effective and, expeditious manner.