Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation

The Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation has jurisdiction over the United States Coast Guard, including its duties, organization, functions and powers; Coast Guard personnel; the Coast Guard Academy; the Coast Guard Reserve; and the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

These matters are codified in Title 14, Coast Guard, United States Code.  The Armed Services  Committee sets the number of Coast Guard reserve officers. The Subcommittee also oversees maritime transportation safety activities.  In addition to the Coast Guard’s search and rescue responsibilities under Title 14, other maritime transportation safety activities are codified in Subtitle II, Vessels and Seaman, Title 46, Shipping, United States Code.

Some maritime safety and security authorities are included in Title 50, War and National Defense, United States Code.  The Subcommittee also has jurisdiction over navigation and port and waterway safety carried out by the Coast Guard that are codified in Title 33, Navigation, United States Code. Maritime transportation regulatory activities include: regulation of vessels and merchant seaman, including inspection and regulation of commercial vessels, carriage of passengers, carriage of liquid bulk dangerous cargoes; regulation of uninspected vessels; regulation of recreational vessels; regulation of uninspected commercial fishing industry vessels; marine casualties; merchant seamen licensing; manning of vessels; pilotage; documentation and measurement of vessels; and state boating safety programs.

The Subcommittee also has jurisdiction over certain marine environmental protection activities that are carried out by the Coast Guard, and generally related to the operation of vessels, including oil pollution, air pollution, plastics pollution, aquatic nuisance species transported by vessels, and related international agreements.

Prior to the 109th Congress, the Subcommittee had sole jurisdiction over matters related to port security, including the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (Subtitle VI of Title 46, United States Code).

The Subcommittee currently shares jurisdiction over port security matters with the Committee on Homeland Security, and continues to exercise jurisdiction and oversight responsibilities over the Coast Guard’s security activities that impact the Service’s operations (including vessel and facility vulnerability assessments and security plans, security incident response, maritime safety and security teams, foreign port assessments, maritime security advisory committees, and maritime domain awareness).

The Subcommittee also has authority over the regulation of ocean shipping (including international ocean shipping, cruise ship financial responsibility, and unfair foreign shipping practices).  These laws are generally codified in Subtitle IV of title 46, United States Code.  The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) regulates ocean shipping.  The Subcommittee also exercises jurisdiction over water common carriers engaged in the domestic offshore trades as well as matters involving maritime liability.  Maritime cabotage or coastwise trade also falls under the Subcommittee’s jurisdiction.  U.S. maritime cabotage laws govern shipping of goods and passengers by water between any two points in the United States.  These laws are generally codified in Chapter 551 of title 46, United States Code.  Vessels engaged in the coastwise trade must be U.S.-flagged, U.S.-built, U.S.-crewed, and U.S.-owned.  The Coast Guard documents vessels in Jones Act trade.  The Customs Service enforces violations of these laws, and the Maritime Administration controls the sale or transfer of U.S.-documented vessels to foreign owners.

In addition, the Subcommittee has jurisdiction over the merchant marine, except as it relates to national security.  The Maritime Administration administers various programs designed to promote and develop the domestic merchant marine industry.  The Committee on Armed Services has jurisdiction over these programs to the extent that they are directly related to national defense, such as the Maritime Security Program.  The Subcommittee also oversees other promotional programs for U.S.-flag vessels in the domestic and foreign trade, and various other promotional programs for the U.S.-flag fleet such as promotion of short sea shipping, maritime education and training of mariners, U.S.-flag liquefied natural gas tankers, maritime education and training, and regulation of the Federal cargo preference laws.