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Navigation Rules
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ALTERNATIVE COMPLIANCE

The alternative compliance procedures for the International Rules and the Inland Rules are the same, although they appear both in the International Rules section of the Code of Federal Regulations (33 CFR Part 81) and in the Inland Rules section (33 CFR Part 89).

1. Definitions.
2. General.
3. Application for a Certificate of Alternative Compliance.
4. Certificate of Alternative Compliance: Contents.
5. Certificate of Alternative Compliance: Termination.
6. Record of certification of vessels of special construction or purpose.

1. Definitions.

As used in this part:
"72 COLREGS" refers to the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972, done at London, October 20, 1972, as rectified by the Proces-Verbal of December 1, 1973, as amended.
"Inland Rules" refers to the Inland Navigation Rules contained in the Inland Navigational Rules Act of 1980 (Pub. L. 96-591) and the technical Annexes established under that Act.
"A vessel of special construction or purpose" means a vessel designed or modified to perform a special function and whose arrangement is thereby made relatively inflexible.
"Interference with the special function of the vessel" occurs when installation or use of lights, shapes, or sound-signaling appliances under the 72 COLREGS/Inland Rules prevents or significantly hinders the operation in which the vessel is usually engaged.

2. General.

Vessels of special construction or purpose which cannot fully comply with the light, shape, and sound signal provisions of the 72 COLREGS/ Inland Rules without interfering with their special function may instead meet alternative requirements. The Chief of the Marine Safety Division in each Coast Guard District Office makes this determination and requires that alternative compliance be as close as possible with the 72 COLREGS/Inland Rules. These regulations set out the procedure by which a vessel may be certified for alternative compliance.

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3. Application for a Certificate of Alternative Compliance.

  1. The owner, builder, operator, or agent of a vessel of special construction or purpose who believes the vessel cannot fully comply with the 72 COLREGS/Inland Rules light, shape, or sound signal provisions without interference with its special function may apply for a determination that alternative compliance is justified. The application must be in writing, submitted to the Chief of the Marine Safety Division of the Coast Guard District in which the vessel is being built or operated, and include the following information:
    1. The name, address, and telephone number of the applicant.
    2. The identification of the vessel by its:
      1. Official number;
      2. Shipyard hull number;
      3. Hull identification number; or
      4. State number, if the vessel does not have an official number or hull identification number.
    3. Vessel name and home port, if known.
    4. A description of the vessel's area of operation.
    5. A description of the provision for which the Certificate of Alternative Compliance is sought, including:
      1. The 72 COLREGS/Inland Rules Rule or Annex section number for which the Certificate of Alternative Compliance is sought;
      2. A description of the special function of the vessel that would be interfered with by full compliance with the provision of that Rule or Annex section; and (iii) A statement of how full compliance would interfere with the special function of the vessel.
    6. A description of the alternative installation that is in closest possible compliance with the applicable 72 COLREGS/Inland Rules Rule or Annex section.
    7. A copy of the vessel's plans or an accurate scale drawing that clearly shows-
      1. The required installation of the equipment under the 72 COLREGS/Inland Rules,
      2. The proposed installation of the equipment for which certification is being sought, and
      3. Any obstructions that may interfere with the equipment when installed in:
        1. The required location; and
        2. The proposed location.
  2. The Coast Guard may request from the applicant additional information concerning the application.

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4. Certificate of Alternative Compliance: Contents.

The Chief of the Marine Safety Division issues the Certificate of Alternative Compliance to the vessel based on a determination that it cannot comply fully with 72 COLREGS/Inland Rules light, shape, and sound signal provisions without interference with its special function. This Certificate includes:

  1. Identification of the vessel as supplied in the application;
  2. The provision of the 72 COLREGS/Inland Rules for which the Certificate authorizes alternative compliance;
  3. A certification that the vessel is unable to comply fully with the 72 COLREGS/Inland Rules light, shape, and sound signal requirements without interference with its special function;
  4. A statement of why full compliance would interfere with the special function of the vessel;
  5. The required alternative installation;
  6. A statement that the required alternative installation is in the closest possible compliance with the 72 COLREGS/Inland Rules without interfering with the special function of the vessel;
  7. The date of issuance;
  8. A statement that the Certificate of Alternative Compliance terminates when the vessel ceases to be usually engaged in the operation for which the certificate is issued.

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5. Certificate of Alterative Compliance: Termination.

The Certificate of Alternative Compliance terminates if the information supplied under 3.(a) or the Certificate issued under 4 is no longer applicable to the vessel.

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6. Record of certification of vessels of special construction or purpose.

(a) Copies of Certificates of Alternative Compliance and documentation concerning Coast Guard vessels are available for inspection at the offices of Assistant Commandant for Marine Safety and Environmental Protection, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, 2100 Second Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20593-0001.
(b) The owner or operator of a vessel issued a certificate shall ensure that the vessel does not operate unless the Certificate of Alternative Compliance or a certified copy of that certificate is on board the vessel and available for inspection by Coast Guard personnel