April 19, 2021

On February 1, 2021, the Commandant of the US Coast Guard (“USCG”) issued Marine Safety Information Bulletin Number 02-21(“MSIB 02-21”) enforcing Presidential Executive Order 13998 and Centers of Disease Control’s Order “Requiring Persons to Wear Masks While on Conveyances and Transportation Hubs.”

Bulletin 02-21 requires persons to use face masks on board of commercial ships, throughout the duration the voyage, and during boarding and disembarkation. The Bulletin requires ship operators to ensure compliance with the order to wear masks, including the obligation to promptly disembark any person refusing to comply. Ship operators must provide adequate notice to all concerned of the requirements of the Bulletin and Order including using digital platforms and apps, as well as by prominently placing signs in multiple languages. The Bulletin includes an email address where complaints against ships not operating in accordance with the Bulletin can be reported.

Vessel owners and operators, their safety departments, as well as ship agents, must be aware of this new directive and must take immediate actions to fully comply with it. The USCG is expected to enforce this Order and Bulletin during ship boarding. Vessels that fail to implement this requirement may be issued a Captain of the Port Order. Repeated violations could result in the imposition of civil penalties and/or criminal action.

Marine safety issues concerning COVID-19 are constantly under review by the USCG, therefore, all concerned in the marine transportation industry must be up to date in these requirements. On March 22, 2021 MSIB 02-21 was amended by MSIB 02-21 CH-1 to include requirements for seaport operators to ensure that any person entering the premises of the port wears a mask. The amended bulletin also provides additional information on mask wearing in marine transportation, including links to USCG and CDC resources and a Frequently Asked Questions section. Copy of MSIB 02-21 is available here and copy of MSIB 02-21 CH-1 is available here.

For the last 53 years, Jiménez, Graffam & Lausell has been the leading Law Firm in Puerto Rico providing legal services to the maritime industry in many areas, including compliance with local and federal marine safety requirements. If you need legal advice in this or other related areas, do not hesitate to contact our Admiralty, Maritime, and Transportation team. We are ready to assist you.

©2021 Jiménez, Graffam & Lausell. This material is provided for informational purposes only and it is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship. Please consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material.