>PASSENGER WEIGHT AND INSPECTED VESSEL STABILITY REQUIREMENTS

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This Final Rule consists of two main actions:
1.      Amended regulations governing the maximum weight and number of passengers that may safely be permitted on board a vessel.
2.      Improved and updated regulations regarding intact stability and subdivision, as well as damage stability.
Effective Date – March 14, 2011, with the following exception:
·         The new Assumed Average Weight Per Person (AAWPP) of 185 lbs will come into effect December 1, 2011.
Key Points:
·         The proposed Annual Stability Information and 10-Year Lightship Stability Verifications were removed.
·         The proposed requirement to confirm at each dry dock examination that draft marks correspond with approved stability guidance was removed due to the removal of the proposed stability verifications mentioned above.
·         A new sub-paragraph was added to sections 115.110 (K-Boats) and 176.110 (T-Boats), which deal with “Routes Permitted”.  The sub-paragraph explicitly calls to attention the OCMI’s prerogative to consider a vessel’s suitability for use in all environmental conditions.
·         Sections 122.304 (K-Boats) and 185.304 (T-Boats) were modified with addition of forecasted visibility and weather conditions to the list of factors to which vessel masters should give special attention prior to getting underway; also, for vessels not greater than 65 feet in length to have means to obtain or monitor the latest marine broadcast.
·         Sections 122.315 (K-Boats) and 185.315 (T-Boats) were amended requiring the vessel master to consider total weight of passengers and variable loads prior to getting underway.
·         Requires small passenger vessels less than 65 feet in length to have draft marks if their stability compliance was determined in accordance with Subchapter S instead of a simplified stability test.
·         Introduces and defines the term Assumed Average Weight Per Person in Section 170.090.
·         The AAWPP is set at 185 lbs.
·         The AAWPP will be updated when the value increases at least by 10 lbs.
·         Section 170.090(c) allows the OCMI to consider and approve another AAWPP based on an alternative mix of passengers.
·         Vessel owner/operators must certify compliance with new stability requirements by providing a written statement along with documentation supporting the total weight and number of passengers and crew permitted to be carried at the new weight NLT 01 DEC 2011, even if no reduction in total persons is incurred.
·         Methods of verifying compliance:
1. Weight ratio – new passenger and crew capacity = existing passenger and crew capacity x old assumed weight per person/new AAWPP.
2. Weight compensation – for vessels that carry either deck or vehicular cargo in addition to passengers; involves reducing the cargo weight carried by an amount equal to the difference between the total permitted weight of passengers and crew associated with the new and old AAWPPs.
3. Direct verification – vessel operator ensures through direct method that the total weight of persons onboard does not exceed the vessel’s stability criteria.
4. Stability calculations – vessel owner or operator may prepare revised stability calculations with the new weight standard.
5. New stability proof tests.
·         The Coast Guard will verify the stability certifications no later than the vessel’s next annual inspection after December 1, 2011.
·         Stability letters for certificated pontoon vessels can only be issued by the Marine Safety Center.