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Old 06-04-2016, 06:56   #1
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USCG Approved Life Jackets -- Required on Foreign Flag Vessels?

Does anyone know whether the requirement to have USCG approved life jackets is applied to foreign flagged yachts cruising in U.S. waters?

A friend of mine about to cross from here is asking, and I couldn't answer. European life jackets generally don't have USCG approval.
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Old 06-04-2016, 07:09   #2
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Re: USCG Approved Life Jackets -- Required on Foreign Flag Vessels?

Great question, I've seen this interpreted in different ways; if you are RACING it's clear (see below). You need to have approved PFD's from your flag country. I've written to a friend at the USCG Marine Safety Office for an official answer; till then, I guess tell them you're practicing for a race <grin>

Vessels of the United States used by foreign competitors while practicing for or racing in competition are exempted from the carriage of any PFD required under § 175.15, provided the vessel carries one of the sponsoring foreign country's acceptable flotation devices for each foreign competitor on board.
[CGD 92-045, 58 FR 41608, Aug. 4, 1993; 58 FR 51576, Oct. 4, 1993, as amended by CGD 97-023, 62 FR 33365, June 19, 1997; USCG-1998-3799, 63 FR 35533, June 30, 1998]
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Old 06-04-2016, 07:37   #3
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Re: USCG Approved Life Jackets -- Required on Foreign Flag Vessels?

my understanding is this . . . . there is an international maritime treaty which states that as a matter of reciprocity recreational vessels must comply with the safety equipment regulations of their flag country and will not be required to comply with the safety equipment regulations of a country they are passing thru.

Some of you old timers will remember that NZ tried to enforce NZ safety regs on foreign flagged cruising boats. An American cruiser took them to court. The government appealed it all the way to NZ's highest court, and that court decided that the treaty was clear and applied and NZ could not enforce this law and that foreign flagged vessel had to (only) follow their flag safety equipment regulations.

This has also been tested in Chile, with the same outcome in court, but the chilean armada then came up with various 'clever' ways to work around the treaty.

There are two difficulties - #1 is that treaty may not (I am not sure) apply to 'US inland waters', and #2 most water LEO's are not familiar with this treaty and its wording is quite dense.

The simplest practical answer is to buy a couple cheap USCG stamped foam life jackets, keep them aboard and wear whatever you prefer (you dont have to wear them to comply with USCG regs).
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Old 06-04-2016, 07:41   #4
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Re: USCG Approved Life Jackets -- Required on Foreign Flag Vessels?

This is another one of the 'Not Invented here' rule applications it seems to me. Our top of the range European and SOLAS approved Crewsaver auto inflate hydrostatic life jackets that we shipped over when we moved to USA are not acceptable, yet at the same time were on sale in West marine for those working on superyachts or intending racing in worldwide events, also 'ideal for persons going to work as crew on vessels in Europe. One of the reasons given was the built in harnesses which USCG consider a potential hazard. In the end ( but bear in mind our current boat is US documented) I discovered they were ctually OK to use but could not be considered as part of the boat's required inventory. We inherited a bunch of junky USCG jackets with the boat so had no problems with meeting the required inventory, all kept in a neat bag ready for inspection ( comfy extra dinghy seat), but we actually wore our UK stuff. Since then we Have purchased new West Marine hydostatic auto inflate jackets with harnesses that now DO comply with USCG, made by Mustang in Canada. What a difference a little rubber stamp makes! These can now be counted as part of our required inventory even if stowed not worn.


Niuts? You might think that but I could not possibly comment! ( Urquart, in House of cards)


Would foreign flagged boats need USCG approved stuff? I would sincerely hope not but they might need a sense of humour and a good attorney on tap if they met with Mr beligerent LE Officer.
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Old 06-04-2016, 08:00   #5
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Re: USCG Approved Life Jackets -- Required on Foreign Flag Vessels?

Dockhead,

I can't quote chapter and verse... But no, a foreign flagged vessel simply needs to conform with its flag requirements. Technically they can conform to either their flags requirements of USCG requirements while in US waters. But as soon as they leave must again conform to their home waters requirements.
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Old 06-04-2016, 09:32   #6
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Re: USCG Approved Life Jackets -- Required on Foreign Flag Vessels?

I'd just buy some cheap ones after he arrived, it's easier than having that argument.
I think you can buy a pack of four for $20 or so.
I've never been boarded, but have witnessed some people really being worked over by the FWC, and I have had them just about knock me out of my dinghy with their wake wanting to see my jackets.
Surprising how big a 35' or so Center Console looks from a dinghy
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Old 06-04-2016, 09:33   #7
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Re: USCG Approved Life Jackets -- Required on Foreign Flag Vessels?

My understanding is the same as above, must comply with the flag state regulations, not US (unless taking passengers for hire from a US port; that's a whole different discussion.)

Last I heard the US CG was working on changing the rule for PFDs to eliminate the US-only CG approval (46 CFR 160) and move to accepting an international CE standard. I haven't been following this since I don't need any new ones right now, but it should make things easier in the future.
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Old 06-04-2016, 09:42   #8
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Re: USCG Approved Life Jackets -- Required on Foreign Flag Vessels?

OK, thanks everyone. I'll convey all this information to my friend.

He's sailing across to Florida from Cowes to take up a job down there, and is so excited!

I guess the grass is always greener, but I'm afraid he'll be disappointed in a number of things, and I dread to imagine his first encounter with FWC.

He's also going to have problems with his 8'6" draft in his 60' Van de Stadt boat.

And he's busy studying the black water laws, and installing tanks!
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Old 06-04-2016, 09:58   #9
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Re: USCG Approved Life Jackets -- Required on Foreign Flag Vessels?

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
OK, thanks everyone. I'll convey all this information to my friend.

He's sailing across to Florida from Cowes to take up a job down there, and is so excited!

I guess the grass is always greener, but I'm afraid he'll be disappointed in a number of things, and I dread to imagine his first encounter with FWC.

He's also going to have problems with his 8'6" draft in his 60' Van de Stadt boat.

And he's busy studying the black water laws, and installing tanks!

He will be dissappointed for sure and with his draft might not get close enough to step ashore
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Old 06-04-2016, 10:20   #10
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Re: USCG Approved Life Jackets -- Required on Foreign Flag Vessels?

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He will be dissappointed for sure and with his draft might not get close enough to step ashore
That's looking at it from an East Coat perspective. We get lazy ion the west coast. As long as we're in the ocean and not within the surf line the bottom is far out of reach (except in a very few places). Even in the Sacramento River my 6'9" keel would rarely touch bottom with my bow at the shore.
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Old 06-04-2016, 10:52   #11
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Re: USCG Approved Life Jackets -- Required on Foreign Flag Vessels?

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That's looking at it from an East Coat perspective. We get lazy ion the west coast. As long as we're in the ocean and not within the surf line the bottom is far out of reach (except in a very few places). Even in the Sacramento River my 6'9" keel would rarely touch bottom with my bow at the shore.

Lucky you, I sold my 7ft draft yacht in the UK rather than sail it over to Florida andthen find it too darn deep to use it. In hindsight we should have chosen the left coast option with the flowers in the hair people.
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Old 06-04-2016, 11:03   #12
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Re: USCG Approved Life Jackets -- Required on Foreign Flag Vessels?

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He's sailing across to Florida from Cowes to take up a job down there, and is so excited!
Mmmm . . . . That actually changes the answer . . . . Foreign flagged vessels which "take up residence" can be expected/required to meet the local safety regulations. Along with paying local taxes. The French require that of ex-pats UK flagged vessels.

Is he going to import the boat?
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Old 06-04-2016, 11:12   #13
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Re: USCG Approved Life Jackets -- Required on Foreign Flag Vessels?

The Irony from what I've seen is that the SOLAS and CE approved PDF's are far supperior to USCG approved stuff, they just dont have the USCG approved tags!
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Old 06-04-2016, 11:15   #14
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Re: USCG Approved Life Jackets -- Required on Foreign Flag Vessels?

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The Irony from what I've seen is that the SOLAS and CE approved PDF's are far supperior to USCG approved stuff, they just dont have the USCG approved tags!
exactamente!
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Old 06-04-2016, 11:37   #15
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Re: USCG Approved Life Jackets -- Required on Foreign Flag Vessels?

evan-
I think even the FWP would get a headache trying to figure out if "sojourning" equals "residing" in Florida. A Brit taking a job in Florida could be coming in under the radar, or by work visa, and in any case he and his boat might not be "residing" there.


If the boat is UK flagged, I doubt the USCG or any LEO will be looking at his residency status. UK boat, UK gear, and if the life jackets look serviceable and in the right numbers and location...really, who ever looks for numbers on the tags?


Same thing for flares. They may look at the date, but if the flares exist, are in date, and are in the right number? That's three more points for the skipper than most boaters there can earn.
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