To understand the role that the Coast Guard plays in making workers safe while they are offshore, you must first know a little about its history.
The role of the United States Coast Guard has evolved since its establishment in 1790. As a branch of the military and federal law enforcement agency, the United States Coast Guard protects the country's coasts. It does this by enforcing the nation's laws at sea, protecting the marine environment, guarding the coastline and ports, and performing lifesaving missions.
Today, Specialist Services RedGuard works with the Coast Guard to manufacture our fleet of portable accommodation modules (PAMs) and support modules and their deployment on our customer vessels and facilities. In this article, we follow the evolution of the Coast Guard from its creation under President George Washington, to its role in how Specialist Services RedGuard's fleet of portable accommodation modules are manufactured and certified.
The creation of what today is the United States Coast Guard can be traced back to August 4, 1790, when President George Washington signed the Tariff of 1790. This act authorized the construction of ten vessels, referred to as "cutters," and the beginning of the United States Revenue Marine. The mandate of the Revenue Marine, which would be later renamed the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, was to enforce the tariff and trade laws and prevent smuggling. The service would continue to grow in size and scope with the United States.
U.S. Life-Saving Service (USLSS) was established in 1871. Approximately 280 stations were built on the East and West Coasts plus the Great Lakes to aid in the rescue of shipwrecked men.
President Woodrow Wilson signed the Coast Guard Act into law. This act merged the Revenue Cutter Services with the U.S. Life-Saving Service to create a new military service and a branch of the armed forces, the United States Coast Guard. Under the control of the Secretary of the Interior, the Coast Guard would be a maritime service dedicated to saving life at sea and enforcing the nation's maritime laws.
President Franklin Roosevelt ordered the transfer of the United States Lighthouse Service to the Coast Guard. This brought the maintenance and operation of all US lighthouses and light vessels under the authority of the Coast Guard.
The Department of Commerce, Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation duties, which enforced laws relating to the construction, safety, operation, equipment, inspection, and documentation of merchant vessels, were transferred to the Bureau of Customs and the Coast Guard via executive order 9083. As a result, the Coast Guard's authority now includes all functions relating to merchant vessel inspection, safety of life at sea, and merchant vessel personnel.
The Coast Guard was transferred to the Department of Transportation.
The Coast Guard is transferred to the Department of Homeland Security, where it currently serves.
Today, the Coast Guard is a unique branch of the military responsible for a wide range of maritime duties, from ensuring safe and lawful maritime commerce to performing rescue missions. The Coast Guard works closely with authorized classification societies (ACS) like the American Bureau of Shipping and also with manufacturers to ensure that all equipment used on merchant vessels meets the standards they have set to ensure safe and lawful maritime commerce.
The Coast Guard's involvement in the deployment and manufacturing of Specialist Services RedGuard's portable accommodation modules can be broken into two distinct sections: Guidance and Certification/Reinspection.
In its role to ensure safety of life at sea, the Coast Guard supplies policy letters that provide guidance on the Coast Guard standards. Letters like 16714 CG-ENG Policy Letter No. 01-16 provide guidance on design, plan review, installation, inspection, and documentation of Portable Accommodation Modules (PAMs) built for or installed on inspected vessels/facilities.
Specialist Services RedGuard uses this guidance as the foundation for creating the design and engineering drawings used to manufacture our portable accommodation modules. The design of the modules is be based on the specifications and requirements provided by the USCG and any additional requirements referenced for the intended host vessel/facility that the modules will be to be utilized on. To ensure high safety standards, Specialist Services RedGuard follows the stringent specifications laid out in the USCG guidance and ABS requirements. These standards are necessary to protect those using the modules in the marine environment.
For certification of PAMs, the Coast Guard works with the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS). The Coast Guard authorizes and sets forth guidelines for cooperation between the two with respect to the initial and subsequent inspections for certification and periodic reinspection or examinations of vessels of the United States. (They do this through a document titled, "Memorandum of Understanding Between the United States Coast Guard and the American Bureau of Shipping Concerning Delegation of Vessel Inspections and Examinations, and Tonnage Measurement, and Acceptance of Plan Review and Approval.) It's through the ABS and its understanding with the Coast Guard that portable accommodation modules, support modules, and any other offshore modules are certified as USCG-compliant and able to work on US-flagged vessels and facilities.
Specialist Services RedGuard will then submit engineering designs for approval of the modules. Once approved, an initial meeting with the ABS is scheduled to lay out the expected timeline to delivery, and define the expectations for fabrication and inspections. The fabricator will then begin manufacturing the module according to the design, with the ABS performing inspections at the appropriate periods within the construction. They also perform spot checks of the process as they see fit. Once the module's construction is complete and has been approved by the ABS, the USCG will issue an approval letter for that module with the relevant information, including its Coast Guard number. A placard is then installed on the module listing its type, manufacturer serial number, and CG number. The module is then certified to the stringent specifications necessary to provide the quality and safety standards to ensure people working within these modules are kept safe.
From President George Washington to portable accommodation modules, the United States Coast Guard has evolved and grown in its mission throughout its history. Working today as a branch of the Armed Forces, a law enforcement agency, a regulator, and providing maritime rescue services, the importance of the Coast Guard continues to grow.
If you need portable accommodation modules for your US-flagged vessel or facility, Specialist Services RedGuard's fleet of portable accommodation modules and support modules are all ABS/USCG/DNV certified and are ready to be deployed. Contact us today!