The Coast Guard's Alternate Compliance Program (ACP) is one of the most significant regulatory reinvention
programs of the 1990s. As contained within Title 46, Part 8, Subpart D of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), the ACP is intended to
reduce the regulatory burden on the maritime industry while maintaining existing levels of safety and providing increased flexibility
in the construction and operation of U.S. flag vessels. In this voluntary program, Classification Society Rules, International Conventions,
and an approved U.S. Supplement provide an alternative that is equivalent to the CFR. Compliance with this equivalent alternative standard
is administered through survey and inspection conducted by authorized classification society surveyors. A Certificate of Inspection (COI)
is issued by the Coast Guard to a vessel enrolled in the ACP based upon the classification society reports.
Guidance on the ACP program is found in Marine Safety Manual (MSM), Vol. II, Sec. B, CH 9, and Navigation and
Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 2-95, CH-3. Links to the MSM, NVIC and other marine inspection documents are found at:
The USCG has recently launched the improved Alternate Compliance Program webpage, now known as the Commercial
Vessel Inspection Alternatives and Delegated Functions” site. The site can be accessed by clicking
here. As before, the website contains a full listing of delegated authorization, class
society functions, and Administration Agreements. These are easily viewable in the updated Summary Table of Authorizations.
The Maritime Security Act of 1996 (MSA) authorized the establishment of a Maritime Security Fleet under the Maritime Security Program
(MSP), which serves as a means for establishing a fleet of commercially viable and military useful vessels to meet national defense as well
as other security requirements.
On January 19, 2012, in an effort to establish a more consistent and comprehensive approach to inspecting MSP vessels, the Coast Guard
published a draft Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) requesting comments from all interested parties to ensure that the full
range and significance of issues related to Coast Guard inspection processes for MSP vessels are identified.
Comments are due March 19, 2012.
If you have questions on this notice, call or email Mr. John Hannon, Domestic Vessels Division, U.S. Coast Guard; telephone
(202) 372–1222, email John.J.Hannon@uscg.mil
SIP is an alternative to traditional Coast Guard inspections that was developed in response to the Maritime Regulatory Reform Initiative.
The Maritime Regulatory Reform Initiative challenged the Coast Guard to re-evaluate its regulatory programs and to develop alternatives that
would ensure the same level of safety.
Originally, Coast Guard Districts and OCMIs were encouraged to explore options for streamlining the traditional inspection process. This
resulted in numerous “prototype” SIPs created and tested by local Coast Guard units and Districts. Soon, however, it became
apparent that the diversity of these programs was actually an impediment to each program’s success. Since each local version of SIP
differed in the type and manner of USCG oversight, verification of the vessel’s compliance with regulatory safety requirements became
an issue when vessels were inspected in OCMI zones other than the one in which the SIP enrollment was made. Some OCMIs were reluctant to
accept another OCMI zone’s validation of the vessel’s compliance because there lacked a consistent inspection practice for
ascertaining compliance. Accordingly, it became necessary to develop a consistent national policy regarding SIP.
The significant difference between SIP and the traditional annual inspection program is in the process of how compliance is ensured. SIP
is primarily an “overlay” of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) requirements that regulate vessel safety. It identifies an
alternative process for ensuring compliance with the CFR, where company personnel conduct frequent, periodic examinations of the various
vessel systems, document their findings, and take the necessary corrective actions specified in the USCG approved plans when discrepancies
are discovered. The Coast Guard will still conduct required inspections of the vessel(s), however, the manner of conducting the inspection
will be considerably different. SIP is not strictly or singularly a “self-inspection” program. Under SIP the marine
inspector’s primary focus will be to review the implementation and management of the SIP by the company and check some critical vessel
systems to verify accuracy of the records.
SIP is based on maintaining enrolled vessels in a continual state of compliance. This continual state of compliance is assured through the
development of an OCMI-approved Company Action Plan (CAP) and Vessel Action Plan(s) (VAP).
The company will develop these plans with the assistance of a USCG SIP Advisor, assigned to work with the Company SIP Representative.
For additional information and a list of frequently asked questions, please consult Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular
(NVIC) 2-99 here
or contact the SIP Program Manager.
SIP Program Manager: (202) 372-1216
These are individual pages in the Vessel Action Plan that list each item on the vessel required by regulation to be periodically
The CAP describes a company’s organization, policies, and responsibilities required for participation in the SIP.