On March 19, 2018, the U.S. Coast Guard published a formal notice in the Federal Register, amending its regulations to increase the estimated dollar value of property damage required for vessel operators to immediately report the incident to this federal agency. A reportable property damage “marine casualty” increases to $100,000, from $25,000, and a “serious marine incident” in the property damage realm increases from $100,000 to $200,000.
The Coast Guard’s notice explains the increases are intended to catch-up with inflation and maintain the agency’s intent that “relatively minor” or “insignificant” property damage need not be reported.
The notice explains that while these increased thresholds may result in less frequent post-casualty drug testing in property damage incidents, mandatory drug testing following and reporting of other “reportable” incidents remains in place:
“We feel that the various types of reportable casualties detailed in 46 CFR 4.05-1 ensure we are made aware of those incidents that could indicate more serious problems and that may be averted in the future with timely intervention. These include groundings, bridge allisions, loss of propulsion or steering, certain equipment failures, incidents resulting in significant harm to the environment, fire or flooding that adversely affects the vessel’s seaworthiness or fitness for service, injuries beyond first aid, and loss of life—regardless of property damage cost.”