(a) A vessel owner or operator required by §§ 155.1035 and 155.1040 to have a response plan shall conduct exercise as necessary to ensure that the plan will function in an emergency. Both announced and unannounced exercises must be included. The following are the minimum exercise requirements for vessels covered by this subpart:
(1) Qualified individual notification exercises, which must be conducted quarterly;
(2) Emergency procedures exercises, which must be conducted quarterly;
(3) Shore-based spill management team tabletop exercises, which must be conducted annually. In a triennial period, at least one of these exercises must include a worst case discharge scenario;
(4) Oil spill removal organization equipment deployment exercises, which must be conducted annually; and
(5) An exercise of the entire response plan, which must be conducted every 3 years. The vessel owner or operator shall design the exercise program so that all components of the response plan are exercised at least once every 3 years. All of the components do not have to be exercised at one time; they may be exercised over the 3-year period through the required exercises or through an area exercise.
(b) Annually, at least one of the exercises listed in § 155.1060(a) (2) and (4) must be unannounced. An unannounced exercise is one in which the personnel participating in the exercise have not been advised in advance of the exact date, time, and scenario of the exercise.
(c) A vessel owner or operator shall participate in unannounced exercises, as directed by the Coast Guard COTP. The objectives of the unannounced exercises will be to evaluate notifications and equipment deployment for responses to average most probable discharge spill scenarios outlined in vessel response plans. The unannounced exercises will be limited to four per area per year, an area being that geographic area for which a separate and distinct Area Contingency Plan has been prepared, as described in the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. After participating in an unannounced exercise directed by a COTP, the owner or operator will not be required to participate in another unannounced exercise for at least 3 years from the date of the exercise.
(d) A vessel owner or operator shall participate in area exercises as directed by the applicable on-scene coordinator. The area exercises will involve equipment deployment to respond to the spill scenario developed by the exercise design team, of which the vessel owner or operator will be a member. After participating in an area exercise, a vessel owner or operator will not be required to participate in another area exercise for at least 6 years.
(e) The vessel owner or operator shall ensure that adequate exercise records are maintained. The following records are required:
(1) On board the vessel, records of the qualified individual notification exercises and the emergency procedures exercises. These exercises may be documented in the ship's log or may be kept in a separate exercise log.
(2) At the United States' location of either the qualified individual, spill management team, the vessel owner or operator, or the oil spill removal organization, records of exercises conducted off the vessel. Response plans must indicate the location of these records.
(f) Records described in paragraph (e) of this section must be maintained and available to the Coast Guard for 3 years following completion of the exercises.
(g) The response plan submitted to meet the requirements of this subpart must specify the planned exercise program. The plan shall detail the exercise program, including the types of exercises, frequencies, scopes, objectives, and the scheme for exercising the entire response plan every 3 years.
(h) Compliance with the National Preparedness for Response Exercise Program (PREP) Guidelines will satisfy the vessel response plan exercise requirements. These guidelines are available from the TASC DEPT Warehouse, 33141Q 75th Avenue, Landover, MD 20875 (fax: 301-386-5394, stock number USCG-X0241). Compliance with an alternative program that meets the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section and has been approved under § 155.1065 will also satisfy the vessel response plan exercise requirements.