H.R. 3619: Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010

H.R. 3619

Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010

October 23, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact

Floor Situation

The House is scheduled to begin consideration of H.R. 3619 on Thursday, October 22, 2009, under a structured rule making 13 amendments in order. A summary of all 13 amendments follows the summary of the bill below. H.R. 3619 was introduced on September 22, 2009, by Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN) and referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which held a mark-up and reported the bill, as amended, by voice vote on September 24, 2009.

Bill Summary

H.R. 3619 would authorize approximately $10 billion for U.S Coast Guard (USCG) operations, including $8.6 billion in discretionary funding for ongoing USCG operations and $1.4 billion for mandatory retired pay.  The authorization is $280 million or 3 percent above the funding level requested by the administration.

The legislation would also modify USCG acquisition practices, place new regulations on certain commercial vessels, alter U.S. port security regulations, and protect operators of a U.S.-flagged ship from liability for using force against any person that participated in an act of piracy.


Title I - Authorization Levels

Operation and Maintenance:  Authorizes $6.83 billion for the operation and maintenance of the Coast Guard, which includes $1.1 billion for search and rescue programs, $802 million for marine safety programs, and $2.27 billion for paying for ports, waterways, and coastal security.

Acquisition, Construction and Improvements:  Authorizes $1.59 billion for the acquisition, rebuilding, and improvement of aids to navigation, Coast Guard facilities, vessels, and aircraft.  This amount includes $1.19 billion for the Integrated Deepwater System Program.

Retired Pay:  The bill authorizes $1.36 billion for retired pay and payments for medical services of retired personnel.

Active Duty Strength:  This legislation authorizes the Coast Guard to have 47,000 active duty personnel for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, the same as the previous authorization.


Title II - Coast Guard

Reimbursement for Medical-Related Travel:  Allows covered beneficiaries living on an island in the contiguous U.S. to be reimbursed for medical travel expenses if the island lacks bridges to the mainland.   

Commissioned OfficersAuthorizes a total of 6,700 commissioned USCG officers.

Sexual Assaults:  Requires the Commandant of the Coast Guard to submit an annual report on sexual assaults involving members of the Coast Guard. 

District Ombudsman: Creates a District Ombudsman program to improve the communication among port and terminal operators, ship owners, labor representatives, and the Coast Guard.

Laser Training System:  Requires the Coast Guard to test an integrated laser engagement system for the training of members of the Coast Guard assigned to small vessels on the use of individual weapons and machine guns.

Minority Recruitment:  Establishes a minority recruiting program for prospective cadets at the Coast Guard Academy.

Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH):  Authorizes Coast Guard veterans to have the same access to the AFRH system as retirees from the other military services.


Title III - Shipping and Navigation

Maritime Drug Enforcement:  Establishes a civil penalty of $10,000 for the possession of a controlled substance on a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

Anchorage Grounds:  Extends the Coast Guard's authority to establish anchorage grounds for vessels from three nautical miles to 12 nautical miles.

Ship Emissions:  Requires the Commandant to study and report on the methods and best practices for reducing exhaust emissions from cargo and passenger ships that operate in U.S. waters.


Title IV-Great Lakes Icebreaker

Authorization:  Authorizes $153 million for the design and construction of a new replacement icebreaker for the Great Lakes.


Title V-Acquisition Reform

Procurement Structure:  Prohibits the use of lead system integrators (LSI) beginning 180 days after the date of enactment of the Act. except for the completion of certain ongoing projects.  LSIs are large, prime contractors hired to manage large, complex, defense-related acquisition programs.  The bill also requires competition for contracts issued by the Coast Guard and any lead systems integrator employed by the Coast Guard.

Contract Terms:  Requires any contract for acquisition exceeding $10 million to be subject to a contractor performance certification made by a third-party or the USCG, rather than the contractor itself.

Cost Estimates:  Requires the Coast Guard to develop cost estimates for projects that are expected to equal or exceed $10 million and to have an expected service life of 10 years.

Acquisition Tests:  Requires USCG to develop a Test and Evaluation Master Plan (TEMP) to guide all developmental and operational testing on acquisitions with total acquisition costs exceeding $100 million or total life-cycle costs exceeding $300 million. 

Notifications to Congress:  Requires the USCG to notify Congress when a project exceeding $100 million, or total life-cycle costs exceeding $300 million, has a cost overrun of over 10 percent.  The bill also requires the USCG to report to Congress on any acquisition with total acquisition costs exceeding $100 million, or total life-cycle costs exceeding $300 million.

Chief Acquisition Officer:  Establishes the Chief Acquisition Officer position within the Coast Guard.


Title VI-Maritime Workforce Development

Maritime Education Loan Program:  Establishes a new government program to provide loans to students to fund their training in the maritime industry.  The House already passed H.R. 2651, the Maritime Workforce Development Act, which authorized $110 million over five years to create two new federal programs to encourage people to study at maritime training institutions.  


Title VII-Coast Guard Modernization

Coast Guard Modernization Act:  Inserts provisions from H.R. 2650, the Coast Guard Modernization Act.  The bill requires the Coast Guard's Commandant to promote maritime safety according to specified priorities, designate Coast Guard positions constituting the marine safety workforce, and establish a management information system for that workforce. 


Title VIII-Marine Safety

Cold Weather Survival Training:   Requires the USCG to report on the efficacy of cold water survival training in Alaska over the last five years.

Fishing Vessel Safety:  Establishes fishing vessel safety standards.  In addition, it allows the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating to establish a Fishing Safety Training Grants Program to provide funding to entities that provide commercial fishing safety training and a Fishing Safety Research Grant program to provide funding for research on methods of improving the safety of the commercial fishing industry.

Protection Against Discrimination:  Allows maritime workers who lose their jobs or are discriminated against because they report safety violations to the Coast Guard to use the same Department of Labor complaint process.


Title IX-Cruise Vessel Safety

Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Requirements:  Adds a number of new regulations and requirements for cruise vessels.  Among other things, the bill requires that cruise vessels have rails located not less than 42 inches above the cabin deck, have technology to detect when a passenger has fallen overboard, video surveillance, and time sensitive key technologies.  The bill also includes increased reporting requirement for incidents of crime on cruise vessels.   The legislation provides civil penalties for the violation of this section and allows the Secretary to deny entry into the U.S. to a vessel if the owner commits an act for which a penalty may be imposed.


Title X-U.S. Mariner Protection

Use of Force Against Piracy:  Sates that if an owner, operator, master, mariner or time charterer uses or authorizes the use of force to defend a U.S.-flagged vessel against an act of piracy, that individual would not be liable for the injury or death caused by that use of force to any person that participated in the act of piracy.


Title XI-Port Security

Maritime Homeland Security Public Awareness Program:  Requires the Secretary to establish a program to help prevent acts of terrorism by seeking the cooperation of commercial and recreational boating industries and the public to improve maritime domain awareness and encourage the reporting of suspicious activities.

Maritime Security Response Teams:  Inserts a new provision requiring the Secretary to establish not less than two maritime security response teams at the Coast Guard's rapidly deployable counterterrorism unit.

Coast Guard Port Assistance Programs:  Authorizes the Secretary to lend, lease, donate, or otherwise provide equipment and technical training and support to foreign port or facility owners or operators to assist the port or facility in its compliance with applicable International Ship and Port Facility Code Standards (ISPS Code).

Review of Potential Threats:  Requires the Secretary to submit a report to Congress analyzing the threat, vulnerability, and consequence of a terrorist attack on gasoline and chemical cargo shipments in port activity areas in the United States.

Port Security Pilot:  Establishes a pilot program to test preventative radiological or nuclear detection equipment on Coast Guard vessels and certain fixed locations in port regions to enhance border security. 

Transportation Security Cards on Vessels:  Specifies that Transportation Worker Identification Cards (TWIC) cards are required by individuals issued a license, certificate of registry, or merchant mariners document under part E of subtitle II of this title who are, "allowed unescorted access to a secure area designated in a vessel security plan."  It provides the same clarification for individuals who work on a towing vessel that pushes, pulls, or hauls alongside a tank vessel.  This is a significant modification long sought by industry and small passenger vessels carrying six or fewer passengers for hire.

Waterside Security Around Especially Hazardous Terminals and Tankers:   Requires the Coast Guard to enforce any security zone established around tankers carrying an especially hazardous material.  Essentially, the bill would require a USCG escort for all Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), Ammonium Nitrate, Anhydrous Ammonia, and Chlorine shipments.  It further requires that the Coast Guard not approve any facility security plan in the Coast Guard Sector in which the facility resides unless the necessary resources are available to ensure compliance with the facility security plan. 

Waterside Security of Certain Dangerous Cargo:  Requires the Coast Guard to conduct a national study to identify measures to improve the security of maritime transportation of "certain dangerous cargo."   The study will include analysis of risks, a review of appropriate roles and responsibilities of stakeholders (federal, State, local and private), recommendations to improve security, and identify funding alternatives.  This section also requires a national strategy to implement the results of the study.

Review of Liquefied Natural Gas Facilities:  Requires the Secretary to notify the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) when a determination is made that the waterway to a proposed waterside liquefied natural gas facility is suitable or unsuitable for the marine traffic associated with such facility.  FERC then has 90 days to inform the Secretary what action it took on the proposal.

Use of Secondary Authentication for Transportation Security Card:  Allows the Secretary to use a secondary authentication system for individuals applying for TWIC cards but who are unable to give fingerprints.  The legislation also allows TWIC card holders to use Federal anti-terrorism background checks to avoid State mandated criminal background checks.  

Requirements for Issuance of Transportation Security Cards:  Requires the Secretary to coordinate with owners and operators to allow individuals with pending TWIC applications to work in secure areas if others already in possession of a TWIC card escort the individuals.  This section establishes deadlines for the processing of TWIC applications by the Department, including Initial Determination of Threat Assessment letters, and appeal and waiver requests. 


Title XII-Alien Smuggling

Terrorist Watch List:  Requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to check alien smuggling suspects and smuggled individuals interdicted at borders of the U.S. against all available terrorist watchlists.

Prosecution and Punishment:  Authorizes punishment for persons who brings an alien who lacks lawful authority to enter to the U.S.  If the offense results in the death of any person, the defendant may be subject to the penalty of death or imprisonment for any term of years or for life.


Title XIII - Miscellaneous Provisions

Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute:  Provides $10.3 million over 5 years to the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute to study the region and ways to improve the integration of the Great Lakes marine transportation system into the national transportation system; analyze the effects of aging infrastructure and port corrosion; establish a model Great Lakes marine transportation system database; and identify trade opportunities with Canada for U.S. flag vessels on the Great Lakes.

Decommissioned Vessels for Haiti:  Gives the government of Haiti the right-of-first-refusal for decommissioned Coast Guard 41 foot patrol boats.

Bridge Study:  Requires the Secretary of Transportation to submit a comprehensive study to relevant Congressional committees on the proposed construction or alteration of any bridge, drawbridge, or causeway over navigable waters with a channel depth of 25 feet or greater that may impede or obstruct future navigation to or from port facilities.


The United States Coast Guard is one of the five armed services of the United States, and was established by Congress in 1915 upon the merging of the Revenue Cutter Service and the United States Lifesaving Service. The legal basis for the Coast Guard is Title 14 of the United States Code, which states: "The Coast Guard as established January 28, 1915, shall be a military service and a branch of the armed forces of the United States at all times." The Coast Guard later moved to the Department of Transportation in 1967, and on February 25, 2003, it became part of the Department of Homeland Security.

The Coast Guard's stated mission is to protect the public, the environment, and the United States economic and security interests in any maritime region in which those interests may be at risk, including international waters and America's coasts, ports, and inland waterways. The Coast Guard is composed of approximately 40,000 active duty military personnel, 8,100 reservists, 6,700 civilian employees, and 36,000 volunteers of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

H.R. 2892, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2010 provided a total of $9.89 billion in discretionary appropriations for the Coast Guard, an increase of $537 million or 5.7 percent over FY 2009.


According to CBO, H.R. 3619 would authorize discretionary appropriations totaling $9 billion over the FY 2010-2014 period. In addition, CBO states that the bill "contains intergovernmental and private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) because it would impose new requirements on vessel owners and operators and others in the maritime industry." However, because these mandates would be based on undetermined regulations, CBO cannot estimate the cost of these mandates.


1) Oberstar (D-MN):  The manager's amendment makes the following technical and substantive changes to the bill:

Ø  Requires a GAO report on the USCG's effort to recruit minorities.

Ø  Requires the USCG and the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a study on new technology to reduce air emissions from water vessels.

Ø  Prohibits the use of Loran-C radio navigation stations if the USCG certifies that the termination of the station would not adversely impact maritime safety.

Ø  Authorizes the Secretary to delegate the American Bureau of Shipping or other classification societies the authority to review and approve plans for offshore facilities.

Ø  Modifies the bills waiver of liability against a person using force against a pirate.  The amendment adds language stating that a person could be held liable for harm caused against anyone engaged in piracy if the person using force "knew at the time that it was substantially in excess of what was reasonable."

Ø  Requires the Secretary to conduct a study on the use of facial and iris recognition to identify individuals for security purposes.

Ø  Requires the Secretary, acting through the USCG, to initiate a study to identify measures to improve transportation of dangerous materials.

Ø  Amends the bill's requirement that the USCG escort all LNG, LPG, Ammonium Nitrate, Anhydrous Ammonia, and Chlorine shipments.  The amendment requires that the USCG be responsible for the enforcement around dangerous cargo vessels and allocate available resources to deter and respond to any security incident.  The amendment is meant to provide more flexibility to the USCG to respond to urgent search and rescue cases.

Ø  Requires the Secretary to assess the feasibility of efforts to mitigate the threat of small boat attacks in security zones of major ports and report the findings to Congress.

Ø  Requires GAO to conduct a study on background checks and determine whether State and local background checks for transportation security duplicate federal efforts.

Ø  Requires the Secretary to allow any individual with a pending application for a transportation security card, who needs to work in secure a area, to have access to such an area for that purpose through an escort by another individual with a security card.

Ø  Prohibits a State from requiring separate background checks for any individual with a TWIC.

Ø  Authorizes the USCG to establish centers of maritime security to educate and train in maritime security.

Ø  Requires the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute to evaluate the employment base supported by Great Lakes marine transportation.

Ø  Requires the USCG to issue a report on human errors that cause oil spills.


2)  Mica (R-FL):  Requires the GAO to submit a report containing a review of background checks required under State and local transportation security programs, a determination of whether those checks conflict with federal programs, and a determination of whether those background checks assist State and local governments in carrying out security responsibilities.  The amendment would also require the report to include recommendation on how to reduce redundant background checks and facilitate background sharing.  Finally, the amendment states that the Secretary may not prohibit States from requiring separate background checks.


3)  Hastings (D-FL):  Requires a study examining the Coast Guard's ability to respond to effects resulting from changes in U.S. immigration policy toward Haiti.


4)  LoBiondo (R-NJ)/Coble (R-NC):  Requires a study on military family housing and military unaccompanied housing available to members of the Coast Guard.  Authorizes the USCG to use funds to provide child development services.  Authorizes the Navy Secretary to provide support services to chaplain-led programs for Coast Guard members, including activities that build and maintain a strong family structure.  Authorizes the President to award a Coast Guard cross and silver star when a Coast Guard member distinguishes himself or herself in armed conflict.


5) LoBiondo (R-NJ)/Michaud (D-ME):  Requires the Secretary to study whether there is a continued need for a supplemental air and maritime navigation systems, such as Loran-C, as a backup to Global Positioning Satellites (GPS). 


6) Himes (D-CT):  Establishes the America's Waterway Watch Program within the Department of Homeland Security and authorizes $3 million for the program through FY 2015.  The program would function as a citizen watch program that promotes voluntary reporting of suspected terrorist activity and suspicious behavior along our waterways.


7) Flake (R-AZ):  Prohibits funds in the Fishing Safety Training Grants Program from being earmarked.


8) Flake (R-AZ):  Prohibits funds in the Fishing Safety Research Training Grants Program from being earmarked.


9) Kirkpatrick (D-AZ):  Requires the Secretary to develop a strategy to combat the flow of contraband through the use of submersible vessels.


10)  Kratovil (D-MD):  Requires the USCG to conduct a study on the facility infrastructure requirements need to fulfill the Coast Guard's missions and capabilities and report the findings within 180 days.


11) Nye (D-VA):  States that the safety provisions of the bill shall not be construed to impair the Coast Guard's homeland security missions.


12) Stupak (D-MI):  Requires the USCG to conduct a study and analysis of the feasibility of the restoring the Fresnel Lens in the Presque Isle Light House in Michigan to operating condition to meet the safety needs of commerce and submit the report within 180 days.


13) LoBiondo (R-NJ)/Coble (R-NC):  States that an owner, operator, time charterer, master, or mariner who uses force to defend a vessel of the U.S. against an act of piracy shall not be liable for injury or death cause by the use of force.  Requires the Coast Guard to work through the International Maritime Organization to establish agreements to promote coordinated action among flag- and port-states to protect against piracy.