The Vessel Security Rule applies to:
- Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODU), cargo, or passenger vessel subject to the International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS);
- Foreign cargo vessels greater than 100 gross register tons;
- Self-propelled U.S. cargo vessels greater than 100 gross register tons subject to 46 CFR subchapter I, except commercial fishing vessels inspected under 46 CFR part 105;
- Vessels subject to 46 CFR chapter I, subchapter L;
- Passenger vessels subject to 46 CFR chapter I, subchapter H;
- Passenger vessels certified to carry more than 150 passengers;
- Other passenger vessels carrying more than 12 passengers, including at least one passenger-for-hire, that is engaged on an international voyage;
- Barge subject to 46 CFR chapter I, subchapters D or O;
- Barges carrying Certain Dangerous Cargoes (CDCs) in bulk or barges that are subject to 46 CFR Chapter I, subchapter I, that are engaged on an international voyage;
- Tankships subject to 46 CFR chapter I, subchapters D or O; and
- Towing vessels greater than eight meters in registered length that are engaged in towing a barge or barges subject to this part, except a towing vessel that (1) temporarily assists another vessel engaged in towing a barge or barges subject to this part; (2) shifts a barge or barges subject to this part at a facility or within a fleeting facility; (3) assists sections of a tow through a lock; or (4) provides emergency assistance.
MTSA compliance is performance-based. However, the Coast Guard must ultimately approve each Vessel Security Plan (VSP). In general, each VSP must:
- Designate a Vessel Security Officer in charge of implementing VSP;
- Describe how security measures will be implemented to ensure physical, passenger, cargo, and personnel security;
- Identify the availability of security measures that increase in conjunction with increases in the Coast Guard’s MARSEC Level (i.e., with increases in national terrorism threat levels); and
- Be updated at least every 5 years.
In December 2003, the Coast Guard issued NVIC 04-03: Guidance for Verification of Vessel Security Plans on Domestic Vessels in Accordance with the Regulations Mandated by the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) of 2002 and International Ship & Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code. Changes to this NVIC were made in May 2004 (Change to NVIC 04-03), December 2006 (Change to NVIC 04-03), and again in April 2008: (Change to NVIC 04-03).