S.C. Code Regs. 80-020 - Volunteer Port Security Force at Charleston, South Carolina
1. The Volunteer Port Security Force (VPSF) at the Port of Charleston is comprised of United States vessels operated commercially at Charleston. In May 2002, recognizing that VPSF vessel crews are likely to be among the first persons to notice unusual or suspicious activities on the harbor, the owners of these vessels voluntarily organized their assets under the auspices of the Maritime Association Port of Charleston (MAPCHA) to provide Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) to the FMSC as exemplified by the VPSF crews becoming aware of suspicious circumstances and persons, and the expeditiously reporting of those observations to the Coast Guard. Around-the-clock VPSF operations run concurrently with the normal operations of those VPSF vessels. A VPSF Operations Plan, approved and edited by the Coast Guard, also establishes training and communications requirements. The VPSF is under the administrative control of the SCNM and the joint operational control of the vessel owners, except when the FMSC takes control under the provisions of 33 CFR Parts 6, 160 and 165. The VPSF is administratively a part of Division II to pursue its MDA mission during Maritime Security (MARSEC) Levels 1 and 2. During MARSEC Level 3, the VPSF mission may coordinated by COMSCNM in accordance with FMSC directives and guidance.
2. The crews of most VPSF vessels are entirely comprised of professional mariners who are licensed by the Coast Guard as Merchant Marine Officers and/or who hold Coast Guard-issued Merchant Mariners Documents. The regulatory requirements for Merchant Marine license and document issuance are contained in 46 CFR Parts 10 and 12, and include experience requirements, examination subjects, physical standards, and renewal provisions. Drug testing requirements are contained in 46 CFR 16. Disciplinary provisions are contained in 46 CFR 5. Merchant vessel manning requirements are contained in 46 CFR 15.
3. Provided that the senior vessel operator on board is a member of either Division I or Division II of the SCNM, and only when directed by COMSCNM, the owner of such a VPSF vessel may visually designate that vessel as an SCNM vessel by displaying the SCNM ensign on the halyard next below the national ensign or at such other appropriate location as directed by COMSCNM. VPSF vessels operating under the SCNM ensign shall be considered to be performing official and necessary Maritime Homeland Security functions related to the continuity of port operations. Such VPSF vessels shall communicate and coordinate their movements with other MHLS assets. During a high MARSEC Level, and pursuant to the applicable sections of 33 CFR Parts 6, 160 and 165, the operation of such SCNM-VPSF vessels may come under the operational control of the COTP. Under those conditions, they shall not be impeded in the performance of those necessary functions unless directed otherwise by the FMSC.
4. It is anticipated that under certain conditions of MARSEC 2, and under MARSEC 3, a significant number of the vessels enrolled in the VPSF will be required to be underway to assure the continuity of commercial port operations and, therefore, be subject to supervision and control by the USCG Captain of the Port (FMSC) pursuant to 33 CFR Parts 6, 160 and 165. In these situations, communications and coordination with maritime homeland security assets will be necessary to assure continuity of port operations. These cooperative relationships will be enhanced if the crew members on each of those vessels are also members of Division II of the SCNM. Therefore, nothing shall prevent Coast Guard licensed and/or documented crew members of VPSF vessels from being members of the SCNM. If they do not already hold Merchant Marine licenses or Merchant Mariners documents, COMSCNM may, upon application, grant temporary status as "Ordinary Seaman" while awaiting issuance of either of those Coast Guard-issued certificates.
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