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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation M-06-009
Details
Synopsis: On March 6, 2004, the small passenger pontoon vessel M/V Lady D, a 36-foot-long by 8-foot-wide enclosed water taxi, was carrying 23 passengers and 2 crewmen en route from Fort McHenry National Monument to Fells Point, Inner Harbor, Maryland, when it encountered a rapidly developing storm with high winds. As the wind and wave intensity increased, the vessel capsized. Most of the water taxi’s occupants were able to escape from the vessel, and all but 3 occupants of the Lady D were rescued within an hour of the capsizing. The bodies of the remaining victims were recovered from the waterway on March 14 and 15. As a result of this accident, 5 passengers died; 4 passengers suffered serious injuries; and 12 people sustained minor injuries.
Recommendation: TO THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD: Establish limiting environmental conditions such as weather in which pontoon vessels may safely operate, and list those limiting conditions on the vessel’s certificate of inspection.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Unacceptable Action
Mode: Marine
Location: Harbor, MD, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA04MM015
Accident Reports:
Capsizing of U.S. Small Passenger Vessel Lady D
Report #: MAR-06-01
Accident Date: 3/6/2004
Issue Date: 3/27/2006
Date Closed: 3/14/2011
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: USCG (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 7/8/2013
Response: Thank you for the April 5, 2013, letter signed by Vice Admiral Peter V. Neffenger, Deputy Commandant for Operations, to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) containing your semiannual update regarding actions to address 42 safety recommendations that the NTSB issued to the US Coast Guard. To assist with future updates and to align our records, we are enclosing a copy of the NTSB’s safety recommendation database history for these 42 recommendations. This response letter will be divided into four parts: • Part 1 – Evaluation of actions to address Safety Recommendations M 09 15 and 16 and M-10-2, recommendations for which Admiral Neffenger provided a substantive update. • Part 2 – List of 6 safety recommendations previously closed. • Part 3 – List of 7 safety recommendations that were the subject of a recent Coast Guard update and that the NTSB is currently evaluating; these recommendations will be addressed in detail in separate correspondence. • Part 4 – List of 26 safety recommendations for which the Coast Guard did not provide a substantive update or for which status has not changed since the last update. Part 1 – Safety Recommendations Updated in the April 5, 2013, Letter: We issued Safety Recommendations M-09-15 and -16, stated below, to the Coast Guard on October 20, 2009, as a result of a review of the involvement of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in several accidents investigated by the NTSB. M-09-15 Implement a program to identify licensed mariners subject to the Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular on Medical and Physical Evaluation Guidelines for Merchant Mariner Credentials (NVIC 04-08) and who are at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea, and require that those mariners provide evidence through the medical certification process of having been appropriately evaluated and, if treatment is needed, effectively treated for that disorder before being granted unrestricted medical certification. M-09-16 Develop and disseminate guidance for mariners, employers, and physicians regarding the identification and treatment of individuals at high risk of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), emphasizing that mariners who have OSA that is effectively treated are routinely approved for continued medical certification. We are encouraged that the Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee is planning to review and revise Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular 04-08, including Enclosure (4), Guidance on Specific Medical Conditions, which details the medical decision making criteria for common conditions (including sleep disorders such as OSA) as they relate to determining merchant mariner fitness for duty. Pending completion of these efforts, Safety Recommendation M-09-15 is classified “Open—Acceptable Alternate Response” and Safety Recommendation M 09-16 is classified “Open—Acceptable Response.” We issued Safety Recommendation M-10-2, stated below, to the Coast Guard on August 11, 2010, as a result of two recent maritime accidents involving Coast Guard patrol boats: the December 5, 2009, collision of the CG 25689 with the small passenger vessel Thriller 09 in Charleston, South Carolina, and the December 20, 2009, collision of the CG-33118 with a 24 foot recreational vessel in San Diego, California. M-10-2 Develop and implement national and local policies that address the use of cellular telephones and other wireless devices aboard U.S. Coast Guard vessels. The Coast Guard’s recent revision of Coast Guard Boat Operations and Training (BOAT) manual, volume I, COMDTINST M16114.32C, section F.2, prohibits the use of cellphones/texting devices and phone applications aboard all boat force assets without the permission of the coxswain, which will only be granted on a case-by-case basis and only when operational safety is not compromised. Because this action satisfies Safety Recommendation M 10-2, it is classified “Closed—Acceptable Action.” Part 2 – Safety Recommendations Previously Closed: M-06-5 (Closed—Acceptable Action, March 14, 2011) Revise regulations to require that passenger capacity for domestic passenger vessels be calculated based on a statistically representative average passenger weight standard that is periodically updated. M-06-6 (Closed—Acceptable Action, March 14, 2011) Identify a method for determining the maximum safe load condition of a small passenger vessel at the time of loading, such as a mark on the side of the hull, and require that the vessel owners implement that method. M-06-7 (Closed—Unacceptable Action, March 14, 2011) Revise the stability criteria for small passenger pontoon vessels for all passenger loading conditions to minimize the potential for capsizing in wind and waves. M-06-8 (Closed—Unacceptable Action, March 14, 2011) Until such time as you revise the passenger weight standard as requested in Safety Recommendation M-06-5 and the stability criteria used to evaluate small passenger pontoon vessel safety as requested in Safety Recommendation M-06-7, develop interim pontoon passenger vessel stability guidance based on static and dynamic intact stability considerations. M-06-9 (Closed—Unacceptable Action, March 14, 2011) Establish limiting environmental conditions such as weather in which pontoon vessels may safely operate, and list those limiting conditions on the vessel’s certificate of inspection. M-11-11 (Closed—Acceptable Action, November 13, 2012) Develop and implement procedures to ensure that your coxswains follow established automatic identification system transmission policies. Part 3 – Recommendations Recently Updated and Under Evaluation by the NTSB: M-10-5 (Open—Unacceptable Response, May 24, 2012; USCG Update February 12, 2013) Require installation of voyage data recorders that meet the international performance standard on new ferry vessels. M-10-6 (Open—Unacceptable Response, May 24, 2012; USCG Update February 12, 2013) Require installation of voyage data recorders on ferry vessels built before the enactment of voyage data recorder carriage requirements that will record, at a minimum, the same video, audio, and parametric data specified in the International Maritime Organization’s performance standard for simplified voyage data recorders. M-12-1 (Open Initial Response Received; USCG Update February 12, 2013) Require new-construction U.S.-flag passenger vessels with controllable pitch propulsion, including cycloidal propulsion, to be equipped with alarms that audibly and visually alert the operator to deviations between the operator’s propulsion and steering commands and the actual propeller response. M-12-2 (Open Initial Response Received; USCG Update February 12, 2013) Where technically feasible, require existing U.S.-flag passenger vessels with controllable pitch propulsion, including cycloidal propulsion, to be retrofitted with alarms that audibly and visually alert the operator to deviations between the operator’s propulsion and steering commands and the actual propeller response. M-12-3 (Open—Initial Response Received; USCG Update February 12, 2013) Require all operators of U.S.-flag passenger vessels to implement safety management systems, taking into account the characteristics, methods of operation, and the nature of service of these vessels, and, with respect to ferries, the sizes of the ferry systems within which the vessels operate. M-12-6 (Open—Initial Response Received; USCG Update March 21, 2013) Develop and implement a policy to ensure adequate separation between vessels operating in the Bayport Channel and Bolivar Roads Precautionary Areas and any other similarly configured precautionary areas in the Houston Ship Channel. M-12-7—(Open Initial Response Received USCG Update March 21, 2013) Graphically delineate precautionary areas on appropriate Houston Ship Channel nautical charts so they are readily identifiable to mariners. Part 4 – Safety Recommendations Not Substantively Updated in the April 5, 2013, letter: M-02-5 (Open—Acceptable Response, February 4, 2013) Require that companies operating domestic passenger vessels develop and implement a preventive maintenance program for all systems affecting the safe operation of their vessels, including the hull and the mechanical and electrical systems. M-07-1 (Open—Acceptable Response, February 4, 2013) Require that all small passenger vessels certificated to carry more than 49 passengers, regardless of date of build or hull material, be fitted with an approved fire detection system and a fixed fire suppression system in their enginerooms. M-07-6 (Open—Acceptable Response, February 4, 2013) Finalize and implement the new towing vessel inspection regulations and require the establishment of safety management systems appropriate for the characteristics, methods of operation, and nature of service of towing vessels. M-08-2 (Open—Acceptable Response, February 4, 2013) Propose to the International Maritime Organization that it mandate the recording on voyage data recorders of heel angles through the complete range of possible values. M-09-4 (Open—Acceptable Response, February 4, 2013) Require mariners to report to the Coast Guard, in a timely manner, any substantive changes in their medical status or medication use that occur between required medical evaluations. M-09-10 (Open—Unacceptable Response, February 4, 2013) Seek legislative authority to require that all commercial fishing vessels be inspected and certificated by the Coast Guard to ensure that the vessels provide an appropriate level of safety to those on board. M-09-14 (Open—Acceptable Response, February 4, 2013) Modify Form 719K (Merchant Mariner Physical Examination Report) to elicit specific information about any previous diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea and about the presence of specific risk factors for that disorder. M-09-17 (Open—Unacceptable Response, February 4, 2013) Require that out-of-water survival craft for all passengers and crew be provided on board small passenger vessels on all routes. M-11-3 (Open—Acceptable Response, February 4, 2013) Regulate and enforce the restriction on nonoperational use of cell phones and other wireless electronic devices by on-duty crewmembers in safety-critical positions so that such use does not adversely affect vessel operational safety. M-11-4 (Open—Acceptable Response, February 4, 2013) Until you can develop regulations governing nonoperational use of cell phones and other wireless electronic devices by on-duty crewmembers in safety-critical positions, continue your outreach program of information and education to the maritime industry on this issue. M-11-8 (Open—Acceptable Response, November 13, 2012) Develop and implement procedures for your special purpose craft–law enforcement that allow crewmembers to compensate for obstructions affecting forward visibility from the helm and the forward port positions. M-11-9 (Open—Acceptable Response, November 13, 2012) Examine your oversight of small boat operations to determine where local procedures are inadequate, implement procedures nationally and at each station (including Station San Diego) to provide continual, systematic, and thorough oversight information, and require action on information obtained to ensure that crewmembers are operating their vessels safely in all conditions and circumstances. M-11-10 (Open—Acceptable Response, November 13, 2012) Require each small boat station, including Station San Diego, to establish specific operating procedures governing small boat speeds that account for prevailing conditions and circumstances affecting the safety of small boat operations. M-11-12 (Open—Acceptable Response, November 13, 2012) Establish a structured data monitoring program for your small boats that reviews all available data sources to identify deviation from established guidance and procedures. M-11-13 (Open—Acceptable Response, November 13, 2012) Conduct a ports and waterways safety assessment for the Sabine-Neches Waterway, determine from that whether the risk is unacceptable, and if so, develop risk mitigation strategies. M-11-14 (Open—Acceptable Response, November 13, 2012) Work through the International Maritime Organization to encourage the application of human factors design principles to the design and manufacture of critical vessel controls. M-11-15 (Open—Acceptable Response, November 13, 2012) Facilitate and promote regular meetings for representatives of pilot oversight organizations to communicate information regarding pilot oversight and piloting best practices. M-11-16 (Open—Unacceptable Response, November 13, 2012) Establish a database of publicly available pilot incidents and accidents and make the database easy to use and readily available to all pilot oversight organizations. M-11-23 (Open—Unacceptable Response, June 12, 2012) Establish standards for new and existing commercial fishing industry vessels of 79 feet or less in length that (1) address intact stability, subdivision, and watertight integrity and (2) include periodic reassessment of the vessels’ stability and watertight integrity. M-11-24 (Open—Unacceptable Response, June 12, 2012) Require all owners, masters, and chief engineers of commercial fishing industry vessels to receive training and demonstrate competency in vessel stability, watertight integrity, subdivision, and use of vessel stability information regardless of plans for implementing the other training provisions of the 2010 Coast Guard Authorization Act. M-11-25 (Open—Unacceptable Response, June 12, 2012) Require each person on deck of a commercial fishing industry vessel to wear a flotation aid at all times. M-11-26 (Open—Unacceptable Response, June 12, 2012) Require owners of commercial fishing industry vessels to (1) install fall overboard recovery devices appropriate for the vessel, (2) periodically ensure the functionality of such equipment, and (3) regularly conduct drills in which crewmembers demonstrate their competence in the use of such devices. M-11-27 (Open—Unacceptable Response, June 12, 2012) Require all crewmembers to provide certification of completion of safety training before getting under way on commercial fishing industry vessels, such training to include both prevention of and proper response to emergency situations as well as actual use of emergency equipment. M-12-8 (Open—Await Response) Align your standards for postaccident toxicological testing of Coast Guard military personnel with the requirements specified in 46 Code of Federal Regulations 4.06-3. M-12-9 (Open—Await Response) Align your standards for postaccident toxicological testing of Coast Guard civilian personnel, seeking appropriate legislative authority if necessary, with the requirements specified in 46 Code of Federal Regulations 4.06-3. M-12-10 (Open—Await Response) Disseminate guidance within the Coast Guard so that commanding officers have unambiguous instruction detailing the requirements for timely drug and alcohol testing of Coast Guard military and civilian personnel whose work performance may be linked to a serious marine incident. Thank you for your commitment to marine safety. We look forward to receiving further updates on the action being taken to implement the following safety recommendations: M-02-5 M-07-1 M-07-6 M-08-2 M-09-4 M-09-10 M-09-14 M-09-15 M-09-16 M-11-3 M-11-4 M-11-8 M-11-9 M-11-10 M-11-12 M-11-13 M-11-14 M-11-15 M-11-16 M-11-23 M-11-24 M-11-25 M-11-16 M-11-27 M-12-8 M-12-9 M-12-10

From: USCG
To: NTSB
Date: 4/9/2013
Response: -From Peter V. Neffenger, Vice Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Deputy Commandant for Operations: Please find enclosed our agreed upon semiannual update of actions on safety recommendations issued to the Coast Guard by the National Transportation Safety Board that are currently assigned an "open" status by the Board and are awaiting Coast Guard response. There are currently 42 safety recommendations with an "open" status issued to the Coast Guard. Of those, we attest that our actions are complete for six, six are pending resolution, and five require long-term agency action. Updates for the remaining 25 have been or will be provided in separate correspondence. Enclosure (1) provides specific information for each recommendation. The Coast Guard published its Final Rule, “Passenger Weight and Inspected Vessel Stability Requirements,” on December 14, 2010. Included under 46 CFR Part 122 and 46 CFR Part 185 are revisions to§122.304 and §185.304, revising those section requiring the master of a small passenger vessel to consider prevailing and forecasted visibility and environmental conditions, including wind and waves, as well as requiring masters of vessels not greater than 65 feet in length to have a means to obtain or monitor the latest marine broadcast. We consider our action on this recommendation complete and request that it be closed.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 3/14/2011
Response: The final rule does not establish limiting environmental conditions such as weather in which pontoon vessels may operate, but merely reinforces the master’s responsibilities to operate safely in all environmental conditions, including wind and waves (46 CFR 122.304 and 185.304), nor does it include any limiting weather parameters on the vessel’s COI. Accordingly, Safety Recommendation M-06-9 is classified CLOSED – UNACCEPTABLE ACTION. The NTSB notes that, in the “Discussion” section of the final rule, the Coast Guard recognizes the need for further work or research on various aspects related to passenger weight and inspected vessel stability requirements. These include • The need to conduct a study of vessel groups composing the U.S. flag inspected passenger vessel fleet that are experiencing significant weight growth over time. • The need for further research to determine the risk associated with passenger crowding on non-pontoon-type small passenger vessels when assessing passenger heel requirements. • The need for additional study of the effects of passenger loading densities and residual righting energy margins, prior to implementing performance-based criteria for non-pontoon vessels, and possibly combining 46 CFR 171.050 and 171.052. • The need to study the simplified stability test requirements found in 46 CFR 178 to ensure that they remain conservative with respect to currently applicable stability requirements. • The need for additional study of the effects of the changes to 46 CFR 170.170 on the existing fleet, prior to implementing a ”calculated equilibrium heel angle” rather than the existing simplified calculations now found in part 170.170. • The need to determine what the significance of increased average passenger weight has concerning passenger seat size and spacing, window and aisle width, and lifejackets and liferafts. The NTSB hopes that the Coast Guard will continue the work necessary to reduce the capsizing risk for small passenger vessels.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 6/26/2009
Response: On April 10, 2007, the Coast Guard advised the NTSB that it partially concurred with the recommendation, stating, however, We do not believe that it is possible to accurately enumerate safe environmental conditions on a given pontoon vessel’s COI [certificate of inspection]. Accordingly, on January 22, 2008, Safety Recommendation M-06-9 was classified Open Acceptable Response, pending timely evaluation and resolution of the issue. In 71 Federal Register 24732, published on April 26, 2006, the Coast Guard advised that owners and operators of passenger vessels certificated for operation only on protected waters should voluntarily operate only in reasonable operating conditions, which were defined as conditions other than the following: when a small craft advisory is in effect, wind gusts are over 30 knots (35 mph), waves are over 2 feet, or sustained winds are over 18 knots (21 mph). On May 22, 2006, the NTSB filed generally supportive comments (enclosure 2). In 71 Federal Register 64546, published on November 2, 2006, the Coast Guard revised the voluntary measures issued the previous April. The update further defined the Coast Guard’s advice to owners and operators of passenger vessels; it also differentiated pontoon vessels such as the Lady D from other passenger vessels. As amended, the voluntary measures read as follows: (1) For passenger pontoon vessels, voluntarily operate in reasonable operating conditions, which do not include: wind gusts over 30 knots (35 miles per hour); waves over two feet; sustained winds over 18 knots (21 miles per hour); or conditions associated with a small craft advisory. (2) For other small passenger, non-sailing vessels, certificated to operate only on protected waters and that are less than 65 feet, give special consideration to the reasonable operating conditions as set forth in item (1) above while complying with the requirements of 46 CFR 185.304 or 122.304. On January 16, 2007, the NTSB filed supportive comments on this notice (enclosure 3). However, despite the earlier notices defining reasonable operating conditions, the Coast Guard’s proposed rulemaking does not define the environmental conditions in which pontoon vessels may safely operate, nor does it require that limiting conditions be listed on a vessel’s certificate of inspection. Instead, the proposed rule would simply require the operator to obtain a marine weather forecast and plan voyages accordingly. The NTSB believes that to assist pontoon vessel operators in planning a voyage, the Coast Guard should provide guidance on guidance weather conditions that may be hazardous to such vessels, based on their stability characteristics. Because the Coast Guard’s proposed rulemaking does not meet the intent of Safety Recommendation M-06-9, it is classified OPEN -- UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: USCG
To: NTSB
Date: 2/13/2009
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 2/20/2009 11:16:05 AM MC# 2090085: - From Walter D. Rabe, United States Coast Guard: Status: Following the publication of our Nov. 2,2006 notice (71 FR 64546), we rcceived feedback fiom the passenger vessel industry indicating that further clarification of the term reasonable operating conditions would help to avert any unintended consequences where Coast Guard personnel would place limits on otherwise safe operation. In a message sent to Coast Guard field units on Aug. 27,2007, our Assistant Commandant for Marinc Safety, Security and Stewardship clarified that the reasonable operating condition standards contained in the Nov. 2,2006 notice are focused on pontoon vessels. These would apply to the Lady D if it was extant. While the Coast Guard is aware of many pontoon passenger vessels that restrict operation as recornmcnded in its Nov. 2,2006 notice, the Coast Guard does not have data on the overall degree of compliance of dl pontoon passenger vessels with the voluntary interim measures. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Passenger Weight and Inspected Vessel Stability Requirements that we published on Aug. 20. 2008 (73 FR 49244) proposes changes to the requirements of Navigation underway that would require masters to pay special attention to prevailing and forecasted visibility and weather conditions, including wind and waves. In comments submitted on the NPRM to thc docket on Nov. 18,2008, the Nl’SH stated its disappointment about the lack of a proposal to require a pontoon passenger vessel’s Certificate of Inspection to include limiting environmental conditions in which it may safely operate and requested the Coast Guard to reconsider its position on this matter. The NPRM comment period closes in March, 2009. Based on comments received, we will evaluate the next regulatory action to be taken. We will keep the Board informcd of our progress on this recommendation.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 11/18/2008
Response: In its comments on the Federal Register notices, the Safety Board supported the language used in the notices and the guidance offered to operators of both pontoon passenger vessels and small passenger vessels under 65 feet. However, in the Safety Board's opinion, the revisions proposed in the NPRM at 46 CFR 185.304, "Navigation Underway," do not meet the intent of Safety Recommendation M-06-9. Section 185.304(a) specifies eight conditions that masters must pay "special attention" to while under way. Although the NPRM proposes changing condition 3 from "prevailing visibility and weather conditions" to "prevailing and forecasted visibility and environmental conditions, including wind and waves," it also would add paragraph (b) to the regulations, as follows: Masters of vessels not greater than 65 feet (19.8 meters) in length must have means available, satisfactory to the OCMI, to obtain or monitor the latest marine broadcast in order to comply with the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section. The Safety Board is disappointed that the Coast Guard has retreated from its earlier position to specify limits on environmental conditions, such as wind speed and wave height, in which pontoon passenger vessels may safely operate. The proposed rule would require the operator only to obtain the latest marine weather forecast and plan his voyages accordingly. That is nothing more than good marine practice. The Safety Board is particularly disappointed that the proposed regulations would continue to rely on the undefined phrase "reasonable operating conditions" on a pontoon vessel's certificate of inspection rather than providing definitive operational guidance to the vessel's operator. Strong winds and waves challenge pontoon vessels to a greater degree than they do monohull vessels. Without specific environmental limitations on a vessel's certificate of inspection, the operator may place passengers at unnecessary risk. Simply having access to a marine weather forecast, as was the case for the operator of the Lady D,would not significantly reduce the risk of capsizing in strong winds and waves. The recommendation to "establish limiting environmental conditions such as weather in which pontoon vessels may safely operate, and list those limiting conditions on the vessel's certificate of inspection" was also made by the Coast Guard study team in its review of pontoon passenger vessel stability for vessels operating in conditions approaching Beaufort force 4 (1.5-foot wave heights, 29-knot wind gusts). The Safety Board believes that to assist pontoon boat operators in planning a voyage, the Coast Guard should provide guidance on weather conditions that may be hazardous, based on the stability characteristics of the boat. The Safety Board is disappointed that the Coast Guard has not indicated actions in the NPRM that would meet the intent of Safety Recommendation M-06-9. The Board urges the Coast Guard to reconsider its position in this matter and continues to believe that limiting environmental conditions should be explicitly listed on a pontoon vessel's certificate of inspection. Editorial Corrections In proposed 4 170.170(a)(2), the term ? in the formula for P (ocean service) should be ft2. In proposed 5 178.330(b), in the formula for M,, the term W, defined as the total test weight, should be in pounds (kilograms), not pounds (meters). In proposed 5 178.340(a), citing the applicability requirements of 3 178.330(b) and (e) appears to be an error; those sections do not contain applicability requirements. Other Considerations As noted earlier, the Coast Guard conducted an impact study to determine the effect on the marine industry of increasing the standard allowance for passenger weight and size used to calculate the intact stability of domestic passenger vessels. As stated in the Coast Guard's announcement,1° the study was also intended to "identify the regulations potentially requiring change." The study was published in March 2007." The subject NPRM focuses on the effects of increased average passenger weight on vessel stability but does not address the effects of increased average passenger size. The impact study identified other areas in 46 CFR that would be affected by increased passenger weight and size-weight loads for structural design; passenger loading based on deck area or rail length; passenger seating widths; sizing of means of escape; window and aisle widths; spacing of seat fronts to seat fronts; buoyancy and strength calculations related to lifejackets, liferafts, and buoyant apparatus; and loading and seaworthiness of liferafts, life boats, and survival capsules. The NPRM does not indicate whether the Coast Guard plans further work related to the effects of increased passenger weight and size on regulations found in 46 CFR. The Safety Board appreciates this opportunity to comment on the Coast Guard's proposed rulemaking regarding passenger weight and vessel stability requirements. The Safety Board urges the Coast Guard, however, not to lose sight of other regulations that could be affected by increased passenger weight, girth, and height. Notation 7679B: The National Transportation Safety Board has reviewed the U.S. Coast Guard's notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), "Passenger Weight and Inspected Vessel Stability Requirements," published at 73 Federal Register 49244-49275 on August 20, 2008. The Coast Guard is proposing to amend regulations at 46 Code ofFederal Regulations (CFR) subchapter H (passenger vessels), subchapter K (small passenger vessels carrying more than 150 passengers or with overnight accommodations for more than 49 passengers), subchapter S (subdivision and stability), and subchapter T (small passenger vessels carrying 150 or fewer passengers or with overnight accommodations for 49 or fewer passengers). The stated purpose of the proposed amendments is to update the passenger vessel regulations "to more accurately reflect today's average weight per person" and to "clarify and update" the regulations regarding intact stability, subdivision, and damage stability. The Coast Guard's proposed rulemaking comes in response to an accident on March 6, 2004, in which the U.S. small passenger vessel Lady D capsized in the Northwest Harbor of Baltimore, Maryland, with loss of life. The Safety Board investigated the capsizing and concluded that errors in determining the allowable number of occupants had permitted the Lady D to operate in an overloaded condition that, combined with the strong wind and waves the boat encountered, significantly reduced its intact stability.2 The Safety Board's accident report raised issues concerning passenger weight standards, vessel stability standards, and policies and procedures related to weather operations. After the Lady D accident and before the Safety Board issued its report, the Coast Guard undertook an action plan designed to evaluate and improve the process of assessing passenger vessel stability. The plan included evaluating the stability standards and assessing the impact on the marine industry of increasing the passenger weight and size standards used to calculate the stability of domestic passenger vessels. The NPRM reflects the results of those studies, as well as addressing recommendations the Safety Board made as a result of its investigation of the Lady D accident. While the Safety Board supports the intent of the rulemaking, it has also identified opportunities to strengthen the proposed regulations, as detailed below. The Safety Board's comments address only proposed regulations that affect small passenger vessels-the vessels addressed in the Board's safety recommendations resulting from the Lady D accident investigation. Passenger Weight Criteria for Stability Assessment Preliminary results from its investigation ofthe Lady D accident persuaded the Safety Board that the Coast Guard was not using a realistic average occupant weight (140 pounds for vessels operating in protected waters and carrying a mix of men, women, and children) in calculating the number of people that could safely be carried on pontoon vessels. Accordingly, on December 20, 2004, the Safety Board issued the following safety recommendation to the Coast Guard in advance ofthe final report: M-04-4 Revise your guidance to Officers in Charge, Marine Inspection, to determine the maximum occupant capacity of small passenger pontoon vessels either (1) by dividing the vessel's simplified stability proof test weight by the per-person weight allowance for an average adult stipulated in Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Circular 12027D (174 pounds per person, assuming summer clothing and a 50-50 gender mix), or (2) by restricting (at the time of loading) the actual cumulative weight of passengers and crew to the vessel's simplified stability proof test weight. In its final report on the Lady D capsizing, the Safety Board superseded Safety Recommendation M-04-4 with the following recommendation to the Coast Guard: M-06-5 Revise regulations to require that passenger capacity for domestic passenger vessels be calculated based on a statistically representative passenger weight standard that is periodically updated. Safety Recommendation M-06-5 is currently classified "Open-Acceptable Response." In April 2006, the Coast Guard published a notice (71 Federal Register 24732) recommending an assumed weight per person of 185 pounds for men and women. In April 2007, the Coast Guard informed the Safety Board that it concurred with Safety Recommendation M-06-5. The NPRM proposes adding new provisions to 46 CFR subchapter S concerning the calculation of assumed per-person weight. The new provisions would replace the weight standard currently found at 46 CFR 178.330. The proposed formula, at § 170.090(e), would use the most recent mean weight data for males and females aged 20 and over (mean weight of males plus mean weight of females, divided by 2, plus 7.5 pounds for clothing). The Coast Guard expects that the weight data, which will come from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), will be periodically updated and released by the National Center of Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Using the CDC updates, the proposed formula would "compute the latest, statistically representative, assumed average weight per person," which would then be used to evaluate passenger vessel stability. The Safety Board notes that the age range (20 and over) given in § l70.090(e) is inconsistent with the range (between 20 and 74) stated in the NPRM preamble. According to the NHANES mean weight data for 1999-2002, the average weight of males and females aged 75 years and older is about 20 pounds less than the figure for adults aged 20 to 74. Using the data for people over 75 would thus bias downward the weight value used to evaluate passenger vessel stability. The Safety Board believes that proposed § 170.090 is responsive to Safety Recommendation M-06-5 but urges the Coast Guard to amend the text of § 170.090(e) to specify the age range as 20 to 74 for both males and females. The Safety Board also notes that if the rule is adopted, administration and compliance will present challenges both to the Coast Guard and to passenger vessel owners and operators. According to the NPRM, the appropriate average passenger weight to be used for stability tests and calculations will no longer be included in the regulations. Rather, when the CDC publishes new average-weight data, the Coast Guard, "without further rulemaking," intends to publish a Federal Register notice that the new data are available. The notice would include revised calculations of average per-person weight in the United States. The Safety Board is concerned that owners and operators not accustomed to tracking Coast Guard notices in the Federal Register could remain unaware of the latest published value of average passenger weight or not realize that the value has changed. The Safety Board therefore urges the Coast Guard to develop procedures that will keep the marine industry and Coast Guard field offices informed of the latest average passenger weight value to be used for stability tests and calculations. Possible vehicles for conveying the information include navigation and vessel inspection circulars and postings on the Coast Guard's public website. Current regulations require masters to verify, "after loading and prior to departure and at all other times necessary to assure the safety of the vessel," that their vessels comply "with all applicable stability requirements.,,3 As the Safety Board observed in its report on the Lady D capsizing, even if the number of passengers permitted on a vessel is based on a higher weight standard, a vessel could still be overloaded if enough passengers exceed the standard weight. To give vessel masters an easy way of identifying whether a particular passenger load could compromise a vessel's stability, the Safety Board urged the Coast Guard to take the following action: M-06-6 Identify a method for detennining the maximum safe load condition of a small passenger vessel at the time of loading, such as a mark on the side of the hull, and require that the vessel owners implement that method. The current classification of Safety Recommendation M-06-6 is "Open-Acceptable Response." The NPRM proposes adding new sections, titled "Stability Verification," to the subchapters that address the inspection of passenger vessels. The new sections would require owners or operators to demonstrate the method masters use to avoid overloading their vessels, based on the most recent stability calculations. Among possible methods cited in the NPRM is "the competent reading of loading or draft marks." The proposed new requirements for small passenger vessels are found at §§ l15.505(a) and l76.505(a). The Safety Board believes that the proposed additions to the small passenger vessel regulations are responsive to Safety Recommendation M-06-6 and urges the adoption of §§ 115.505(a) and 176.505(a). The proposed rules also require verification that a vessel still meets applicable stability requirements "as soon as practicable" after the vessel or its loading is modified, and the use of the latest data on average per-person weight in the verification procedure. The Safety Board supports the Coast Guard's proposal to require immediate revisions to a vessel's stability information that will reflect the latest assumed average weight per person, and that vessels undergoing modification or loading changes will also receive immediate stability verification. Paragraph (b) of the proposed rules would require a vessel's stability to be verified at 10-year intervals. The Safety Board supports this proposed rule. The Safety Board notes, however, that the preamble to the NPRM states that the proposed rules require all vessels to meet the latest stability weight standards "immediately upon the effective date of this rule," no matter when a vessel's stability requirements were issued. The proposed regulations contain no specific provision to this effect. Pontoon Vessel Stability Standards Intact stability standards are found in subchapter T, part 178, subpart C. The NPRM proposes extensive revisions to the intact stability requirements at §§ 178.320 and 178.330 and to the stability standards for pontoon passenger vessels at § 178.340. The Safety Board has concerns about a number of the proposed revisions. Intact Stability Requirements. The Coast Guard's multiphase pontoon stability project launched after the Lady D capsizing included an evaluation of the current stability process and an analysis of alternate stability standards. On April 28, 2005, a Coast Guard study team published its Study on the U.S. Domestic Intact Stability and Subdivision Requirements for Twin Hull Pontoon Passenger Boats Less Than 65 Feet in Length, which reviewed the pontoon vessel simplified stability test (PSST) variables found in subchapter T regulations, as well as industry and international standards. Among other results, the study recommended restricting the applicability of the PSST to defined parameters related to full load submergence (percentage of pontoon diameter underwater when carrying a full load), pontoon diameter, and distance between pontoon centers. The study concluded that the PSST's margin of safety (conservativeness) was questionable if pontoon vessels with characteristics falling outside the restrictions were tested using the PSST. Based in part on the Coast Guard's 2005 study, the NPRM proposes a new subsection, § 178.320(g), which contains nine restrictions on when a multihull vessel "may undergo" a PSST. As recommended by the study, two provisions, §§ 178.320(g)(8) and (9), restrict the applicability of the PSST to vessels that meet criteria for the distance between pontoon centers and the diameter of each pontoon. The study also recommended a full load submergence of not more than 50 percent as a boundary condition for the application of the PSST. The proposed regulations do not include such a restriction, despite the safety concerns raised by the Coast Guard study. The Safety Board's report on the capsizing of the Lady D, which referred to the 2005 Coast Guard study, found that the Lady D capsize condition was 56 percent submergence of the pontoon.4 The Safety Board urges the Coast Guard to include the 50 percent full load submergence criterion in the proposed restrictions on the application of the PSST. The Safety Board believes that the regulations should require the stability of pontoon vessels that do not meet the nine criteria in § 178.320(g) and the 50 percent submergence criterion to have their stability evaluated under the provisions of subchapter S. According to the NPRM preamble, the revisions to § 178.320 are intended to clarify which passenger vessels are subject to the PSST and which to the subchapter S stability requirements. In the Safety Board's opinion, the proposed rules have little potential for clarifying the stability standard applicable to pontoon passenger vessels. Not only do the proposed rules contain technical errors, they are difficult to follow, in large part because of the multitude of cross-references. For example, § 178.320(b) states: "Except as provided by paragraph (i) of this section, each vessel must comply with paragraph (c), (d), (e), (t), (g), or (h) of this section." Paragraph (c) sends readers to part 170 subparts G and H and part 171 subparts A and B. Paragraph (g) sends them to § 178.340. Paragraph (i) provides an exception to paragraph (b) that mayor may not apply to pontoon vessels. In comparison, current regulations at § 178.320 are clear and easy to follow. It is unlikely that the stability standard applicable to pontoon vessels would be misunderstood, inasmuch as current regulations at § 178.320(b) clearly state that "a pontoon vessel operating in protected waters must undergo a simplified stability proof test" unless the owner chooses to comply with subchapter S requirements. The potential for confusion about the standards for pontoon vessels is compounded by the absence of the limiting condition, "operating in protected waters," from the text of the proposed regulations (it appears only in Figure 178.320). The Safety Board believes that the limiting condition is critical and urges the Coast Guard to make it clear in proposed § 178.320(g) that the regulation applies only to pontoon passenger vessels operating on protected waters. The Safety Board is particularly concerned that proposed § 178.320(i) appears to give the cognizant officer in charge, marine inspection (OCMI) the authority to develop his own stability test or to dispense with stability requirements altogether. Current standards at § 178.320(c) allow OCMIs to dispense with a simplified stability test (SST), but that relaxation of the rules has until now been extended only to monohull vessels, not to pontoon vessels. The Safety Board believes that the stability of all pontoon passenger vessels should be evaluated, whether by PSST or through subchapter S calculations, for the loading and environmental conditions under which they are intended to operate. The Safety Board therefore urges the Coast Guard to clearly state that proposed § 178.320(i) applies only to monohull vessels. The NPRM proposes adding Table 178.320 to the regulations as a summary of the intact stability requirements. To make it clear that proposed § 178.320(i) applies only to monohull vessels, as the Safety Board believes it should, Note 2 should be removed from the "Non-sailing" doublehull column of Table 178.320. In addition, the Safety Board notes that an entry for number of passengers seems to be missing from the column for double-hulled sailing vessels (rightmost column). Pontoon Simplified Stability Test. The Coast Guard's NPRM states that in revising § 178.340, it seeks to "codify existing policy on pontoon vessel intact stability, clarify those requirements, and improve consistency of application." The Safety Board believes that the proposed changes do not meet the stated objectives. The proposed revisions involve reorganizing § 178.340 to "align with" § 178.330, which gives the procedures for administering an SST to monohull vessels. The Safety Board finds that the proposed changes would, contrary to the stated objectives, introduce inconsistencies between the PSST and the SST. For example: • The SST includes the weight of personal effects and excludes crew weight in calculating total test weight. The PSST includes both passenger and crew weight but does not address the weight of personal effects. The Safety Board believes that the weight of crew, passengers, and personal effects should be consistently accounted for in the tests. • The PSST includes the weight of sewage tanks, whereas the SST is silent about them. • The current SST procedure requires fuel and water tanks to be "approximately three quarters full." The NPRM proposes to require that fuel and water tanks on pontoon vessels be filled to 100 percent capacity when a PSST is performed. The Safety Board believes that the proposed change does not reflect actual operating conditions for pontoon vessels and could reduce safety margins because it does not account for the negative effects of free surface on stability. The Safety Board urges the Coast Guard to remove the requirement for filling tanks to 100 percent capacity. The Safety Board has serious concerns about the proposed regulations regarding the formulas used to calculate a vessel's stability. Evaluating whether a vessel has the minimum stability for its proposed operation involves calculating the wind heeling moment and the passenger heeling moment.5 The passenger heeling moment is based on the beam of the vessel and the number of passengers carried. The wind heeling moment is based on the projected lateral surface of the vessel exposed to wind pressure. The larger of the two heeling moment calculations is used in conducting a stability proof test on the vessel that involves shifting weights on the deck until that heeling moment is reached. The formulas for calculating heeling moments are found in the current regulations applicable to monohull vessels (§ 178.330). Seven months after the Lady D capsizing, the Coast Guard issued guidance for conducting stability tests that included formulas for calculating heeling moments specifically for pontoon passenger vessels. 6 The formulas are incorporated in the proposed regulations at § 178.340(b). However, a critical change has been made to the formula given in the guidance document for calculating passenger and crew heeling moment. The Safety Board is concerned that the change would reduce the safety margins for pontoon passenger vessels. The proposed formula contains a factor, K, that was not part of the formula given in the Coast Guard's guidance document. K reduces by 2 feet the maximum transverse distance of the deck area accessible to passengers. The consequence of the change in the formula is to reduce the magnitude of the passenger heeling moment in the PSST. There is no discussion in the NPRM preamble justifying this reduction, nor does the public docket contain information supporting a reduction in the passenger weight shift test. If the proposed formula had been applied to the Lady D, it would have reduced the passenger heeling test moment applied to the vessel during a PSST by 25 percent.8 The result would have been to allow a corresponding increase in the number of passengers the Lady D was permitted to carry. The preamble to the NPRM refers to the "overall good safety record of the passenger vessel industry" that "reflects safety factors inherent in the stability requirements applied to passenger vessels." The effect of introducing K into the stability formula would be to reduce the safety factors in the stability requirements for pontoon passenger vessels. Such a change could very well negate the effect of increasing the assumed passenger weight for stability calculations. Any attempt to reduce the safety factors inherent in the PSST is contrary to the interests of safety. The Safety Board does not support such a reduction in safety and urges the Coast Guard to reconsider the proposed change. As part of the proposed revisions to § 178.340, the NPRM has revised the figures intended to illustrate the PSST procedures. The Safety Board considers that the general readability of Figures 178.340(d)(1) and 178.340(d)(2) has been improved. However, inconsistencies between the illustrations could mislead those conducting a PSST as to the positioning of the test weights. Figure 178.340(d)(2) shows the weights raised to meet a vertical center of gravity (VCG) of 30 inches above the deck, while Figure 178.340(d)(1) shows the test weights positioned on the deck. The Safety Board suggests modifying Figure 178.340(d)(1) to show the weights positioned to meet a VCG of 30 inches above the deck. The Safety Board also notes an inconsistency between the text of proposed § 178.340(c) and Figure 178.340(d)(1). The text specifies the following: With the appropriate heeling moment applied to the most adversely affected side of the vessel, the remaining exposed cross sectional area of the hull, without consideration of the cross-structure area on that side, must be equal or greater than-( l) The cross sectional area submerged due to the load shift (for an example, see Figure l78.340(d)(1); and, (2) One-quarter of the cross-sectional area on one hull. For consistency with the text, the Safety Board suggests revising the box in Figure 178.340(d)(1 ) to read, "With load in outboard positions (Position 2), Area A must be equal to or greater than Area B and at least 1/4 of the cross-section area of one pontoon." Finally, the NPRM proposes changing the title of § 178.340 from "Stability Standards for Pontoon Vessels on Protected Waters" to "Pontoon Simplified Stability Proof Test (PSST)." The Safety Board believes that this section should apply only to pontoon passenger vessels operating on protected waters, as specified in the existing regulation, and urges the Coast Guard to modify the section heading to read, "Pontoon Simplified Stability Proof Test (PSST)-Protected Waters." Policies and Procedures Pertaining to Weather Conditions Stability Criteria. As a result of its investigation of the Lady D accident, the Safety Board issued the following safety recommendation to the Coast Guard: M-06-7 Revise the stability criteria for small passenger pontoon vessels for all passenger loading conditions to minimize the potential for capsizing in wind and waves. The Safety Board classified Safety Recommendation M-06-7 as "Open-Acceptable Response," pending the results of the Coast Guard's review of the subchapter S stability criteria and PSST procedures and its proposed corrective action. The Coast Guard's proposed rulemaking does not include a standard for pontoon vessel dynamic stability that, if met, might have prevented the Lady D capsizing. The Coast Guard has maintained that dynamic stability standards for pontoon passenger vessels are unnecessary because pontoon vessels have an acceptable accident record. The Lady D accident cannot be considered as part of an acceptable safety record, and the stability of pontoon vessels is not comparable to that of monohull vessels in bad weather. The Safety Board is unaware of any rigorous effort by the Coast Guard to analytically evaluate the dynamic stability ofpontoon vessels operating in wind and waves and is disappointed that the Coast Guard has not indicated actions in the NPRM that would meet the intent of Safety Recommendation M-06-7. Environmental Conditions. In response to the Lady D accident, the Coast Guard announced on April 26, 2006, voluntary interim measures for owners and operators of all small passenger vessels certificated for operation only on protected waters (71 Federal Register 24732). The voluntary measures included operating only in "reasonable operating conditions," defined as not including times when (1) a small craft advisory is in effect, (2) wind gusts are over 30 knots (35 mph), (3) waves exceed 2 feet, or (4) sustained winds are above 18 knots (21 mph). On November 2, 2006, the Coast Guard issued updated guidance (71 Federal Register 64546) that clarified the scope of voluntary measures published in April. The updated guidance defined "reasonable operating conditions" and addressed pontoon boats separately from other passenger vessels under 65 feet that operate on protected routes. Owners and operators of pontoon passenger vessels were advised to voluntarily operate in "reasonable operating conditions" that do not include wind gusts over 30 knots (35 mph), waves over 2 feet, sustained winds over 18 knots (21 mph), or conditions associated with a small craft advisory. Other small passenger vessels were advised to "give special consideration" to the reasonable operating conditions defined above. The updated guidance was consistent with the following safety recommendation, which the Safety Board issued to the Coast Guard after the capsizing of the Lady D: M-06-9 Establish limiting environmental conditions such as weather in which pontoon vessels may safely operate, and list those limiting conditions on the vessel's certificate of inspection. In its comments on the Federal Register notices, the Safety Board supported the language used in the notices and the guidance offered to operators of both pontoon passenger vessels and small passenger vessels under 65 feet. However, in the Safety Board's opinion, the revisions proposed in the NPRM at 46 CFR 185.304, "Navigation Underway," do not meet the intent of Safety Recommendation M-06-9. Section I85.304(a) specifies eight conditions that masters must pay "special attention" to while under way. Although the NPRM proposes changing condition 3 from "prevailing visibility and weather conditions" to "prevailing and forecasted visibility and environmental conditions, including wind and waves," it also would add paragraph (b) to the regulations, as follows: Masters of vessels not greater than 65 feet (19.8 meters) in length must have means available, satisfactory to the OeMI, to obtain or monitor the latest marine broadcast in order to comply with the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section. The Safety Board is disappointed that the Coast Guard has retreated from its earlier position to specify limits on environmental conditions, such as wind speed and wave height, in which pontoon passenger vessels may safely operate. The proposed rule would require the operator only to obtain the latest marine weather forecast and plan his voyages accordingly. That is nothing more than good marine practice. The Safety Board is particularly disappointed that the proposed regulations would continue to rely on the undefined phrase "reasonable operating conditions" on a pontoon vessel's certificate of inspection rather than providing definitive operational guidance to the vessel's operator. Strong winds and waves challenge pontoon vessels to a greater degree than they do monohull vessels. Without specific environmental limitations on a vessel's certificate of inspection, the operator may place passengers at unnecessary risk. Simply having access to a marine weather forecast, as was the case for the operator of the Lady D, would not significantly reduce the risk of capsizing in strong winds and waves. The recommendation to "establish limiting environmental conditions such as weather in which pontoon vessels may safely operate, and list those limiting conditions on the vessel's certificate of inspection" was also made by the Coast Guard study team in its review of pontoon passenger vessel stability for vessels operating in conditions approaching Beaufort force 4 (1.5-foot wave heights, 29-knot wind gusts). The Safety Board believes that to assist pontoon boat operators in planning a voyage, the Coast Guard should provide guidance on weather conditions that may be hazardous, based on the stability characteristics of the boat. The Safety Board is disappointed that the Coast Guard has not indicated actions in the NPRM that would meet the intent of Safety Recommendation M-06-9. The Board urges the Coast Guard to reconsider its position in this matter and continues to believe that limiting environmental conditions should be explicitly listed on a pontoon vessel's certificate of inspection. Editorial Corrections • In proposed § l70.170(a)(2), the term f in the formula for P (ocean service) should be ft2, • In proposed § l78.330(b), in the formula for Mp, the term W, defined as the total test weight, should be in pounds (kilograms), not pounds (meters). • In proposed § l78.340(a), citing the applicability requirements of § l78.330(b) and (e) appears to be an error; those sections do not contain applicability requirements. Other Considerations As noted earlier, the Coast Guard conducted an impact study to determine the effect on the marine industry of increasing the standard allowance for passenger weight and size used to calculate the intact stability of domestic passenger vessels. As stated in the Coast Guard's announcement,10 the study was also intended to "identify the regulations potentially requiring change." The study was published in March 2007. The subject NPRM focuses on the effects of increased average passenger weight on vessel stability but does not address the effects of increased average passenger size. The impact study identified other areas in 46 CFR that would be affected by increased passenger weight and size-weight loads for structural design; passenger loading based on deck area or rail length; passenger seating widths; sizing of means of escape; window and aisle widths; spacing of seat fronts to seat fronts; buoyancy and strength calculations related to lifejackets, liferafts, and buoyant apparatus; and loading and seaworthiness of liferafts, life boats, and survival capsules. The NPRM does not indicate whether the Coast Guard plans further work related to the effects of increased passenger weight and size on regulations found in 46 CFR. The Safety Board appreciates this opportunity to comment on the Coast Guard's proposed rulemaking regarding passenger weight and vessel stability requirements. The Safety Board urges the Coast Guard, however, not to lose sight of other regulations that could be affected by increased passenger weight, girth, and height.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 1/22/2008
Response: The Safety Board is disappointed that the Coast Guard does not believe it is possible to describe safe environmental conditions on a pontoon vessel’s certificate of inspection, and instead has relied on the traditional restriction of reasonable operating conditions. The master of the Lady D stated that he had successfully operated the pontoon boat in similar weather conditions in the past, and when he left the dock just before the accident, the master of the Lady D had been operating in conditions that he and his company considered consistent with the company’s weather policy. Because the Coast Guard’s and master’s interpretations of reasonable differ, the Board believes that a more descriptive and objective statement of environmental operating limitations is warranted. The Coast Guard has considerable experience with and a sophisticated understanding of small passenger vessel stability criteria, and therefore is in a unique position to convey to small boat operators and crews practical guidance that takes into account the interrelationships between design, operating conditions, and license qualifications, and how they relate to stability, especially in potentially unsafe conditions. Although reasonable may be obvious to the Coast Guard, the term did not constitute adequate practical guidance to the master of the Lady D. The Coast Guard has analyzed this accident extensively, and the Board would like to know what operating conditions the Coast Guard would have considered reasonable for the Lady D, loaded as it was at the time of the accident, and how such reasonable conditions were determined. The Coast Guard’s November 2, 2006, Federal Register notice provided voluntary guidance to clarify reasonable operating conditions, specifically concerning weather parameters for both pontoon and other small passenger vessels. The Safety Board strongly believes that the inclusion of specific wind and wave conditions on the vessel’s certificate of inspection is necessary to provide definitive operational guidance to a vessel’s operator. The Board would appreciate an update on the compliance of the pontoon boat industry with the voluntary guidelines for reasonable operating conditions. The Safety Board notes that the Coast Guard intends to continue to evaluate the pros and cons of establishing limiting environmental conditions, and listing those limitations on the vessel’s certificate of inspection. Pending the Coast Guard’s timely evaluation and resolution of this issue, Safety Recommendation M-06-9 is classified OPEN -- ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: USCG
To: NTSB
Date: 4/10/2007
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 4/18/2007 1:29:30 PM MC# 2070167: - From Brian M. Salerno, Rear Admiral, Director of Inspections and Compliance: We partially concur with this recommendation. We do not believe that it is possible to accurately enumerate safe environmental conditions on a given pontoon vessel’s COI. Instead, the Coast Guard has traditionally restricted small vessels to reasonable operating conditions. As the term reason implies, it involves a cognitive process carried out by a professional mariner having a certain degree of experience in the operation of a given size and type of vessel - and direct knowledge of the conditions to which the vessel is subjected at any particular moment. While, in general, the Coast Guard considers it appropriate to avoid operating a small vessel in conditions that exceed those encountered or anticipated when a small craft advisory is in effect, limiting winds speeds and wave heights alone cannot adequately define a safe operating envelope, even for a particular vessel. Many other conditions involving both the vessel and its environment must be constantly observed, monitored, interpreted, and responded to by the Master in order to evaluate the advisability of embarking on a voyage, or of continuing on a voyage when conditions progressively deteriorate. Not only does the Master have the responsibility to make this determination, he is the only one capable of making that determination. This is consistent with the policy established by Seaport Taxi, as indicated in the NTSB report. While the Coast Guard has suggested voluntary observance of certain limiting conditions beyond which it may be unreasonable to operate, members of the passenger vessel industry have since offered compelling reasons why they consider this approach to be overly restrictive. Vessels come in all sizes, types, and sea keeping abilities. Attempting to take a one-size-fits-all approach by specifying limiting environmental conditions for vessel operation, even if only applied to pontoon boats, is fraught with difficulty and may well have unintended consequences. We intend to continue to evaluate the pros and cons of establishing limiting environmental conditions, and listing those limiting conditions on the vessel’s certificate of inspection, and will seek comment on this matter in the upcoming regulatory project. We will keep the Board informed of our progress on this recommendation.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 1/16/2007
Response: Notation 7783A: The National Transportation Safety Board has reviewed the U.S. Coast Guard’s notice and request for comments on its update to the earlier published “Domestic Vessel Passenger Weights—Voluntary Interim Measures.” The update was published at 71 Federal Register 64546 on November 2, 2006. The purpose of the update was to clarify the voluntary measures for prudent operation for all small passenger vessels published on April 26, 2006. The previous announcement in 71 Federal Register 24732 on April 26, 2006, gave notice to owners and operators of all small passenger vessels certificated only for operation on protected waters. It advised that: (1) For passenger vessels certificated for operation only on protected waters, voluntarily operate only in “reasonable operating conditions” which, do not include the conditions listed below: a small craft advisory is in effect; wind gusts over 30 knots (35 mph); waves over two feet; or sustained winds over 18 knots (21 mph). The updated guidance in 71 Federal Register 64546 on November 2, 2006, further clarifies the scope of this advice and specifically addresses pontoon vessels. The voluntary measures of April 2006 as updated now reads as follows: (1) For passenger pontoon vessels, voluntarily operate in “reasonable operating conditions,” which do not include: wind gusts over 30 knots (35 miles per hour); waves over two feet; sustained winds over 18 knots (21 miles per hour); or conditions associated with a small craft advisory. The updated guidance is consistent with the Board’s recommendation that followed the capsizing of the U.S. small passenger vessel Lady D in the Northwest Harbor of Baltimore, Maryland, on March 6, 2004. Safety Recommendation M-06-9 asked the Coast Guard to “establish limiting environmental conditions such as weather in which pontoon vessels may safely operate, and list those limiting conditions on the vessel’s certificate of inspection.” (2) For other small passenger, non-sailing vessels certificated to operate only on protected waters and that are less than 65 feet, give special consideration to the “reasonable operating conditions” as set forth in item (1) above while complying with the requirements of 46 CFR 185.304 or 122.304. The change defines “reasonable operating conditions” and addresses pontoon boats separately from other passenger vessels under 65 feet on protected routes. The Safety Board supports this change and the language and guidance to operators of both pontoon passenger vessels and small passenger vessels under 65 feet. The Safety Board appreciates this opportunity to comment on the Coast Guard’s updated “Domestic Vessel Passenger Weights—Voluntary Interim Measures.”

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 6/5/2006
Response: During the week of June 5, 2006, Jack Spencer, while at IMO FSI 14, discussed the dynamic analysis of the Lady D with Doug Rabe (USCG). Mr. Rabe advised that his staff believed that the computer program AQWA, used by the NTSB contractor, Alion Science & Technology, JJMA Maritime Sector, was inappropriate for this type of analysis. The USCG was considering questioning the NTSB findings. Mr. Spencer said that he believed the analysis was appropriate and the results were reasonable, and suggested that USCG and NTSB staff meet with the contractor to discuss the analysis before taking any positions in writing. Subsequently, Mr. Spencer contacted JJMA to discuss the program AQWA and to arrange a meeting. A meeting is tentatively scheduled for November 21, 2006.