46 CFR § 175.118 - Vessels operating under an exemption afforded in the Passenger Vessel Safety Act of 1993 (PVSA).
(1) At least 100 gross tons but less than 300 gross tons; or
(2) Former public vessels of at least 100 gross tons but less than 500 gross tons.
(b) The owner or operator of a vessel must have applied for an exemption under PVSA by June 21, 1994, and then brought the vessel into compliance with the interim guidance in Navigation and Inspection Circular (NVIC) 7-94 not later than December 21, 1996. The PVSA exemption is valid for the service life of the vessel, as long as the vessel remains certified for passenger service. If the Certificate of Inspection (COI) is surrendered or otherwise becomes invalid (not including a term while the vessel is out of service but undergoing an inspection for recertification), the owner or operator must meet the appropriate inspection regulations to obtain a new COI without the PVSA exemption.
(c) Except where the provisions of subchapter H of this chapter apply, the owner or operator must ensure that the vessel meets the requirements of this subchapter, meets any requirements the OCMI deems applicable, and meets any specific additions or exceptions as follows:
(1) If a vessel does not meet the intact stability requirements of subchapter S of this chapter, the vessel's route(s) will be limited to an area within 20 nautical miles from a harbor of safe refuge, provided the vessel has a history of safe operation on those waters. The OCMI may further restrict the vessel's routes if the vessel's service history, condition, or other factors affect its seaworthiness or safety.
(3) The owner or operator must crew the vessel under the requirements of this subchapter. All officers must be endorsed for the appropriate vessel tonnage. The OCMI may require an appropriately endorsed engineer officer for those vessels of at least 200 gross tons. Vessels carrying more than 50 passengers must have an additional deckhand, and all deckhands on vessels carrying more than 50 passengers must be adequately trained. The crew members on a vessel of at least 200 gross tons, except those operated exclusively on lakes and rivers, are required to hold merchant mariner credentials or merchant mariner documents and 50 percent of the merchant mariner credentials or at least an able seaman.
(4) The vessel owner or operator must comply with the lifesaving arrangements located in part 180 of this chapter, except that inflatable liferafts are required for primary lifesaving. A rescue boat or suitable rescue arrangement must be provided to the satisfaction of the OCMI.
(5) The vessel owner or operator must comply with the fire protection requirements located in part 181 of this chapter. When a vessel fails to meet the fire protection and structural fire protection requirements of this subchapter, the vessel owner or operator must meet equivalent requirements to the satisfaction of the cognizant OCMI or submit plans for approval from the Coast Guard Marine Safety Center.
(6) At a minimum, the owner or operator must outfit the vessel with portable fire extinguishers per 46 CFR 76.50. In addition, the vessel must meet any additional requirements of the OCMI, even if they exceed the requirements in 46 CFR 76.50.
(d) The OCMI conducts an inspection and may issue a COI if the vessel meets these requirements. The COI's condition of operation must contain the following endorsement: “This vessel is operating under an exemption afforded in The Passenger Vessel Safety Act of 1993 and as such is limited to domestic voyages and a maximum ___ of passengers and may be subject to additional regulations and restrictions as provided for in Sections 511 and 512 of the Act.”