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The US Coast Guard revises guidance to ensure cyber security is given more importance

The United States is placing increasing importance on cyber as an element of seaworthiness.

In its updated guidance to Marine Inspectors and Port State Control Officers on assessing cyber risk management in commercial vessels, the US Coast Guard has expanded the range of vessels that must comply.
Now all US-flagged vessels that require a Vessel Security Plan (VSP) as defined below must ensure it incorporates cyber:

• Cargo vessels over 100 GRT
• Passenger Vessels certified to carry more than 150 passengers and those above 100 GRT
• All vessels subject to SOLAS
• Barges carrying certain dangerous goods
• Mobile offshore drilling units

‘This instruction provides further evidence of the increasing importance being placed by the US on cyber as an element of seaworthiness. This standards and enforcement regime will only become stricter and less tolerant of failures to implement cyber safety guidance and regulations,’ said Astaara’s deputy chief cyber officer, Philip Ponsford.

‘Non-compliance could result in the detention and/ or re-inspection of the vessel, and we expect other jurisdictions to follow this lead.’

Philip Ponsford.

Vessels that require a VSP must have it in place by 31 December this year.

‘This revision demonstrates the USCG’s focus on the importance of safe cyber operating procedures for vessel operation and navigation and incorporates a much wider range of vessels to those in the original instruction published in Oct 2020,’ added Mr Ponsford.

‘The sanctions to be applied for non-compliance are severe, and all marine casualty and incident investigations will now assess cyber as a contributing factor where the cause is not obvious. Reporting of casualties will include escalation to the appropriate federal authorities to ensure a coordinated cross-government response to mitigate any threat to the wider Maritime Transportation System.’

Astaara Risk Management remains available to advise in scope, breadth and implementation on Vessel Security Plans.

‘Our risk management experts specialise in the maritime industry, and we are therefore adept at spotting weaknesses swiftly and efficiently. We carry out a step-by-step audit, ensuring that vessel and port owners are in the best possible position to take the necessary action,’ said Mr Ponsford.
Source: Astaara

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